The debate between various councils, police, street artists and traditional artists about the difference between street art and graffiti and its right to a place on our streets is still on-going.

Graffiti largely describes the act of vandalism that involves defacing public or private property, most commonly with spray paint. It often presents the owners of a property with a hefty bill to have to get professionals in to clean it off and then repaint where necessary. This could leave you wondering why anyone would refer to this as art. Some artists with ulterior motives, however, have taken to the streets to present their art to the world.

Some street art has been left untouched and become a ‘go-to’ site on the streets of London and other cities around the world. Banksy in particular is known for his political agenda based street art pieces. Others have tried to replicate his style and vision but haven’t quite managed to rip off the street art master. Read more here to discover Londons best street art tours now!

However, graffiti known as ‘tagging’ is where someone has a particular design with largely undistinguishable (to the average person’s eye) letters and this is what is commonly seen as vandalism.

The capital is home to all types of street art designs and depending on where you are in the city, you will experience different designs. A lot of street art and graffiti is sourced from cultural differences and dates back many, many years. Some of the more affluent districts of London are untouched and are seemingly immune to street art, whereas other boroughs are almost tattooed with it, creating its own unique cultural identity.

While graffiti of any kind is an act of vandalism on a monument in the UK, in other countries it is acceptable and is actually encouraged and endorsed. For example, on the Great Wall of China officials have sectioned off a part of the wall so that visitors can engrave their initials rather than defacing the whole wall.

Another similar example is the trend of ‘love locks’, particularly in the world’s most romantic city – Paris. Couples over the last decade have taken to attaching padlocks to bridges in Paris with their initials on or just a heart. While this is not graffiti or street art in the traditional form, it is an unconventional way of publicly sharing emotions and is not seen as an offence in the French capital.

So while the fine line between street art and graffiti is still somewhat unclear, you can rest assured that London has an incredible and interesting amount of ‘street art’ to offer. Not only will East End Tours Street Art London Tour take you to some of the hidden treasures of this art form, it will also highlight some of the old communities and how they have developed through time in the UK. Our tour guides live within the capital and know the streets of the tour like the back of their hand, so you can be certain you’re in the best company with East End Tours.