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10 Places Where Graffiti Is Legal

California Warsaw Melbourne Copenhagen Zürich Paris New York City Insider Guides
by Juliane Huang Jan 29, 2009
Graffiti has long been a part of human history, but it wasn’t until the emergence of hip hop culture that graf began gaining recognition as an art form around the globe.

GRAFFITI IS CONSIDERED vandalism in most places. Because of this, the risk graf artists, or “writers” take when they tag, and the speed and efficiency with which they must create their pieces, have helped shape the form itself.

More and more people however, in various places around the world, are recognizing graf as a legitimate art form and now provide legal spaces for it. Below are 10 places where tagging is legal, and in some cases, encouraged. It can also be highly competitive. Bring skills or just enjoy.

1. Hosier Lane, Melbourne, Australia

This famous spot is popular among tourists and artists alike. Located in the southern edge of Melbourne, Hosier Lane allows for all kinds of street art and even seems to encourage it, as the lane has been featured in travel guides and advertising campaigns. Graffiti artists, if there was ever a place for you, this is it.

Elsewhere in Melbourne, street art is just as prevalent though maybe not as heavily advertised as Hosier Lane. Even Banksy tagged it. The owners of the building then installed a perspex screen over the work to prevent it from damage or destruction.

2. Warsaw, Poland

Topiel Street provides ample wall space for writers and stencil art. No hassle from the local police!

3. Tesnov, Prague

Well-known among the denizens of Prague, near the Florenc metro station. Relatively safe, this site offers completely legal tagging with the added benefit of good lighting from nearby street lamps.

4. Queens, New York, United States

Dubbed 5Pointz, this full city block in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City is free to the public and almost entirely covered by graffiti. Artists who are interested in putting up their work here must first be reviewed and granted permission by curator Meres One.

Murals are allocated a certain amount of space and exhibition time based on the quality and durability of the work.

5. Paris, France

Legal tagging sites are sprinkled all over France. Just be wary of the graffiti groups, as some can get a bit territorial and aren’t afraid of confrontation.

6. Taipei, Taiwan

Many artists take advantage of Taiwan’s legal gray area concerning graffiti and vandalism, posting their work all over the city. Police officers openly admit to not getting involved unless there is an owner complaint or property damage.

7. Zürich, Switzerland

Independently run by a group of artists and sanctioned by the city, Rote Fabrik in Zürich was originally a lakeside silk mill. Now this alternative cultural center is one of the few places in this city where graffiti art is not just legal, but encouraged.

8. Sydhavnen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Lauded as a must-see sight in Copenhagen, the hall of fame wall near Sydhavnen is home to some massive and complex pieces. Though individual pieces may not last long due to the popularity of this location, enough visitors stop by each day that artists’ creations gain significant exposure once put up.

9. Burghausen, Germany

Running 150 meters long and 8 meters high, the graffiti wall in Burghausen, Germany is open to all artists who bring their own paint and creative minds. The city is located in the southeast portion of Germany, close to the Austrian border.

10. Venice, California, United States

The Venice Graffiti Pit located in Venice Beach is world famous for being an open and creative space for street artists. It is not uncommon to see an artist in the middle of working on a mural her. The only downside? Artwork gets painted over by other artists in rapid succession.

Though doing graffiti legally may not be as adrenaline-inducing as tagging illegally, the luxury of time allows for more detailed and intricate artwork.

Graffiti artists, aficionados, and admirers may visit this site for specific directions and a comprehensive list of sites. 

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