Joe Louis is a street artist

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By now, many people are familiar with Banksy, probably the most famous street artist alive today. His iconic graffiti murals often carry with them social commentary on authoritarian institutions. If you haven’t heard of him, I encourage you to watch the film Exit Through the Gift Shop and be prepared to laugh out loud. Other street artists have also gained fame over the last decade. Shepard Fairey has been in the scene for a long time but was launched into celebrity with his HOPE depiction of Barack Obama. Others such as Basquiat and English continue to gain recognition.

The popularity of street art likely has something to do with its accessibility. Many people I talk to don’t really “get” contemporary art. A line on a canvas or a dot. A monochromatic geometric shape seems too simple to be art. “Even I can do THAT!” Street art on the other hand has clear visual appeal and requires a high level of talent.

Even more than the art itself, is the subculture that wraps around the street art world. There is an inherent coolness factor that street art exudes from its roots as an illegal, counterculture trade. Street art started with people vandalizing walls with spray paint and stencils in public areas under the protection of only the dark night sky. Nowadays you’ll pay a hefty commission to hire a talented artist to “decorate” a wall.

Go to the heart of the matter
Some cities are known as hotbeds of street art. In addition to New York City, Los Angeles, and Berlin, Melbourne is known as an incubator of art. Head to downtown and you’ll see walls plastered with names, pictures, and scrawls. No need to pay admittance to a museum.

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By the book
You are actually legally allowed to create street art in Melbourne provided you have a permit and choose an appropriate location. Sure it takes away from the adventure and the adrelanine, but at least you won’t have to spend a night the brig. Plus your art won’t be removed immediately.
You can apply for a permit at:
Coordinator Urban Engineering – Engineering Services
4th Floor, 200 Lt. Collins Street City of Melbourne
Melbourne VIC 3000

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Team work
Don’t want all the hassle? Sign up with a group to take a tour and a workshop. Guides have local knowledge and can show you the best of the underground street art world as well as show you the basics of spray painting and stenciling. Make your statement.


Resources

Melbourne street art: http://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/ForResidents/StreetCleaningandGraffiti/GraffitiStreetArt/Pages/Whatisstreetart.aspx

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