The second to last day of our wonderful London trip was spent in the city’s most colorful area: the East End. Our group of 9 was split into 3 groups so everyone’s experience was a little different, but we all walked away with a greater appreciation and understanding of street art.

Sophie, Olivia and I ended up together on a tour with Doug, an Irish man with a ponytail, canvas murse (that is, a “man purse”) and the ability to put social issues into poetry. The tour started with showing us some more well-known street artists, especially those who had traveled to London. These included VHILS, Space Invader, Cranio, Stik, DALeast and ROA. The only street artist I had heard of before this tour was Banksy, a street artist who often makes political statements through his work.

Me by a Banksy that reads: "If nothing else, believe in art."

Me by a Banksy that reads: If nothing else, believe in art.”


Not all street artists are political though. One artist that we came across, ROA, makes giant animals on the side of buildings.  There is no social or political rhyme or reason to it.

This giant crane was done by ROA in 8 hours.

This giant crane was done by ROA in 8 hours.

We also learned that most of these artists are commissioned to paint on buildings. Doug told us about the consequences of painting illegally, even if the art work isn’t offensive, and that most artists want to avoid this. All you have to do is receive written permission from the owner of the building.

The tour gave us all a great beginners’ lesson into the world of street art. It also showed us the “alternative” side of London, the side filled with diversity, art and a full sense of community.

For more on the social and political views of our tour please see my next blog post!

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Samantha Schwanke

Samantha graduated in 2014 with a BA in English and a Mass Communications minor. She is from Owatonna, MN and her hobbies include hanging out with family and friends, playing musical instruments (flute, piccolo, piano and accordion), watching movies, shaving her dog and stitching kitchen towels….you know, the normal stuff. ​