Shades of Toronto Graffiti (Part 1 – Overview)

Toronto, being the big city that it is, has more than its share of diverse street or wall art, more commonly called graffiti.  This isn’t every one’s cup of tea, but it’s hard to ignore the creative expression that goes into these highly stylized works.

Among the varieties to be found gracing the corner wall of an old building, on either side of the occasional alley way or wherever else you may find these quirky pieces are classic graffiti tags, the enigmatic or humorous character scenes, the images laden with social or political messages, and designs that are as much about vibrant colors as anything else.  I took a lot of shots of these recently, so have broken them up with some being posted here and others planned for a later set of shared images.








Similar Posts on O’Canada:

∅ Ossington Avenue Graffiti

∅ Montreal’s Vibrant Walls of Graffiti

∅ Wall Art a la Montreal

63 responses

  1. While I’ll always have an issue with people defacing property that isn’t theirs (no matter how nice it may be), there’s no denying the talent and skill that goes into a lot of graffiti art. If only every town had designated “graffiti areas”, and graffiti artists stuck to them, then I think this art form would be much more acceptable and loved — and the style deserves to be!

    • Wendy, wonderful observations. While graffiti can be found all over in Toronto, to your point there is a graffiti alley — Queens Alley — that has become a designated street art area. Because its spans several blocks in length it showcases quite a variety of styles.

    • I’ve often wondered, though, whether the illicit nature of the canvas is somehow an integral part of the artistry. Would the artistic process and its end result be altered if the canvas were legitimized in “graffiti areas”?

      • Oh, tbh, I definitely think that’s the whole draw of graffiti for some of these artists — it’s less about the art itself and more about the feeling they get from doing it in a place they shouldn’t. It’s the rush and the game of not getting caught.

        I do know of some cities that have put up designated areas for graffiti artists to showcase their work, in an effort to keep the rest of the city ‘clean’… and the artists still want to paint where they shouldn’t and ignore the designated areas. And honestly, this is the problem with this art form — the artists who could paint the exact same pictures in the exact same way, anywhere… but choose not to. The art would still be the same. But the feeling they get from creating it would be different. And I personally don’t think that justifies putting it where you’ve been asked not to, you know?

  2. I’m about to revisit Toronto, and want to gorge on street art… Were you there recently, can you suggest particular hot spots? I know Graffiti Alley (aka Rant Alley), the alley behind Ossington, the whole alley stretch both n. and s. of Queen West, also parallel to Danforth in the east .. but all this in general. If you have a specific current favourite, do tell!

  3. I agree with Wendy that these artists are very skilled and talented but it’s annoying to see it in non-designated places. However, it’s definitely become much more sophisticated from what I remember years ago; it’s been recognised as a true art form as it should be.

  4. I always find that graffiti art seems to reflect the culture surrounding its creations, Brett. Such is the case here in Chicago; the graffiti art often captures many of the dark and desperate lives of the artist. I quite like the Toronto art you have presented, Brett! It feels much more uplifting than that which I see here! Cher xo

  5. I love taking pictures of the street art in every city I visit. Last October, while in Brooklyn, we took a guided tour with a guy working with local artists, and it was very eye opening. From graffiti and simple tagging, to elaborated and allowed murals, I learnt a lot, and appreciate what I see even more now 🙂

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