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Beautiful City

Beautiful City: Graff On The Web


If you’re planning a trip to Istanbul in the near future, or even if you aren’t, there’s a new app for iPhones that hopes to deliver a different sort of travel guide to the ancient city. The app is called “Street Art Istanbul”, and it’s part map, part photo gallery, and all educational. The front page is a well-curated catalog of photos of street art and graffiti, along with information about the artists and the neighborhoods where the art is located--they even include restaurant recommendations. From here, you can go to a map, featuring pins that show exactly where each piece resides. It’s even possible to upload your own photos and locations, although the level of curation suggests that there’s likely a heavy moderation process, which is probably a good thing.

Graffiti on the web isn’t new. One of the best places to get started is on Instagram. Searching for the hashtag “graffiti” will get you more than you can handle, but I can easily recommend users “rolling for miles” and “rail side rebellion” as two feeds that provide quality photos on a regular basis.

For history and documentary buffs, YouTube can keep your evenings occupied for weeks. The best place to begin, however, is at the beginning, with the seminal graffiti documentary “Style Wars”, from 1983. The full movie is available, and it documents graffiti in New York City during one of the most explosive and prolific periods of its history.

For an origin story from the other side of the country, you can check out “Piece by Piece”, a film that examines the history of graffiti in San Francisco, and offers a fascinating look at how artistic styles can form at the local level.

There’s so much on the web, this list only scratches the surface. But use caution, or you might find yourself becoming a graffiti aficionado.