Graffiti has had a rather tumultuous history. People have always viewed it as a gateway for spreading political messages and agendas while some see it as a plain expression of art.
The graffiti art form has also been branded as vandalism for ages. But since times have changed, views about the controversial art form have also been changing. There are different clans and there are turf wars regarding the art going up on the walls. When it comes to festivals, it’s quite rare to see artistic angles being given a front stage. But over the years, we’ve seen a gradual change in that trend as more and more cutting edge graffiti festivals have started popping up and attracting large crowds to delve into the creative minds of the artists who painstakingly create these masterpieces on the walls of cities.
We take a look at some of the best graffiti festivals in the world!
1.Art Basel Miami, Miami
It would be a total faux pas to not start of the list with the famed “Art Basel Miami“! The festival, which takes place at the Miami Convention Center for 5 days, transforms the city walk into a mural that is one for the ages. Vibrant colours pop out from white walls and not a single garage door is sprayed. The festival sees some of the best artists come over to dabble in the art form and but their best work forward.
2. Roskilde, Denmark
The festival begins with a strange ritual of everyone stripping bare naked and sprinting across the grounds. But the main attraction still is the countless artists with their arsenal of spray cans of wild colours, right from mattes to neons. But graffiti did not start out as you would think at the festival. According to sources, earlier attendees of the festival used to pack spray cans with their clothes and tents when making their way to Roskilde. The event managers eventually welcomed the artistic out pourand started hiring professionals to don the walls with some mind blowing art pieces.
While the music still is the highlight of the festival, there sits a dedicated graffiti centre at the festival venue where you can see some of the greatest creative minds at work.
3. UpFest, Bristol
Bristol’s very own FREE graffiti festival, UpFest has been at the forefront of being one of the most prolific street art festivals around the world. The festival sees over 300 artist from 25 countries converge in Bristol over a span of 3 days to cover the walls of the city in the most original and imaginative art one could imagine. The festival has been famous for letting artists choose a wall to work on and put their signature work on it. The art they do is then retained for a whole year and is total eye candy for tourists who visit the city. The art is then painted over the next year for the next edition.
The 2016 edition saw some highly imaginative pieces of art go up on the walls! Needless to say, the walls are going to be a wonder to look at for the whole year!
4. POW! WOW! Festival, Hawaii
The month of February sees the city of Honolulu in the Kaka’ako district transform into a canvas of bright colours and people. POW!- signifies the “impact the art has on a person” and WOW!- captures “the reaction they have to the art”. Over the past few years, POW! WOW! has become recognised by people and artists all over the world as one of the biggest hubs for cross culture networking.
Apart from hosting art shows,the festival is known for broadening their horizons and doing gallery shows, lecture series, schools for art and music, mural projects, concerts and live art installations across the globe. Add to this the picturesque backdrop of Hawaii, and you’ve got yourself a winner on your hands!
5. Life Is Beautiful, Las Vegas
Life Is Beautiful burst into the scene in early 2013 in Las Vegas, Nevada, the land of the opulent. Lively street art takes over the sprawling downtown blocks occupied by the festival, and smooth, evenly painted surfaces counter Vegas’s madness. One of the festivals programs is “Rise Above”, in which almost 20 blocks have been dedicated to the art to turn it into an art inspired playground for budding artists. 20 artists are brought in to produce some eye-dropping visuals on the walls of the city.
It’s a brilliant initiative by the city to make it more livelier and give it a splash of colour and life!
Graffiti has been one of the biggest conduits for bringing change in a way that stands out from all other means of communication and entertainment. It’s great that everyone around the world is actually taking notice about the messages it portrays apart from the creativity that stems from the art itself!