Graffiti in Berlin is something that most are shocked by when they first come to Berlin. Graffiti artists have been trying to push the boundaries for decades, starting with tags, then wall art and then onto spraying entire trains.
I think buildings which are grey (and rather mundane to look at) are if anything, updated when they get splashed with colour. Others may see it differently when it comes to bad graffiti, or inane vandalism.
“Shame about all the graffiti”
The best graffiti or street artists are those who create optical illusions, improve an otherwise large block of concrete, or make the passer-by think a little.
Being a HSP, I tend to notice small details (such as tags) and enjoy recognising those who have splashed colour and stories all over the city. Graffiti originally blew up during the Cold War between East and West Germany where artists protested the Iron Curtain via covering it in art, political statements and colour as a sign of resistance. It is still seen as a way of expressing feelings, political stances and showing general resistance. The most amusing artist was SOZI36 who insisted on writing messages on furniture all around Kreuzberg. Even Banksy got involved with Brexit.
Graffiti is done using coloured market pens, thick black markers or cans of spray paint. From bubble to oldschool, billboard to block to realistic, Berlin artists cover it all. The subway in New York in the 80’s used to be covered with tags (even on the inside), something that I did see whilst in Rome. These days BVG has cleaned up the U-Bahn trains and stations (sad times) and is said to spend around €5m per year on doing so.
Let’s just a moment to appreciate this:
Source: Berlin Writers
A brief touch on graffiti artists in Berlin
1. GRAB1 (NHS)
GRABONE is mainly known for the sheer quantity of tags he has across Kreuzberg in Kottbusser Tor and Schlesisches Tor. His pieces are mainly in the Hall of Fame which has been several spots in Berlin, where it is legal to spray: one was in Hallesches Tor, the other in Gleisdreieck park. He tends to do intricate pieces with many colours and white highlight, either spraying GRAB, GREB OR GRAB1. Check out his instagram here. (source: @Grabscher_187_)
2. Hulk (UTS, RTZ)
This is one of my favourite oldschool style pieces; he is very well-known around Berlin. Source: Poet73
3. Phos (RTZ)
Look how perfectly placed his tags are. Source: ilovegraffiti
ÜF (Berlin Kidz) are known for abseiling down buildings, the church in Mehringdamm (how on earth did they manage that) and features his stuff all across Kotti. It’s just epic. They have done some risky stuff and in this video:
Source: Amber Strother
Even a graffiti novice knows these guys, people have spotted their pieces around the world. They tend to try to put huge pieces on roofs, the idea is to be seen and for others to wonder how you even got up there. Source: ratsangthugs
6. CBS “Fists”
A lot of street art and graffiti artists came flooding into East Germany after the Fall of the Wall (9 November 1989) after the Stasi did so much to prevent it. Source: CBS Flickr
7. SOBR “it’s time to dance”
These people just reminds me of different types you’d see at Sisyphos. It captures good mood, freedom, diversity. It’s the bomb. The confetti makes it. Source: leavinglovingliving
This guy is just daring and is featured all over Berlin Writers. I think the idea of spraying the walls of the U-Bahn without getting run over or caught, and for it to still look so neat takes a lot of skill. Source: @g.eschlossen
Let me know of any new names you’ve seen, your favourite graffiti artists in the comments – there are too many to feature.