#StreetArt Barcelona Spain

Barcelona is an incredible city for street art where practically every metal gate covering a storefront has characters, lettering, stencils, or pasteups.  It was visually one of the coolest places to explore because you had to constantly be looking - up, down, side to side.  I've posted pictures and some notes about a street art tour done with Barcelona Street Style Tour.  These are but a sampling of images I saw in the day and half I had to explore.  


Pasteups, Stencils



Complete set of Barcelona Street Art photos:  


Some final thoughts - Street art and graffiti are illegal in Barcelona.  These artists risk arrest and a fine of...I heard... 3000 euro.  On some deep level I admire artists who must create and take risks to do so.  I realize that naysayers talk about legality, vandalism, blah blah blah.  I understand all this BUT - at the end of the day, the mosaic of colors, textures, and images ornament the city in a way that contributes to Barcelona being Barcelona.  Barcelona is a rich, colorful, and vibrant city - in part - because street and graffiti artists contribute to the built environment, augmenting, coloring, and creating a language and aesthetic.  It's really quite beautiful and inspiring.  

#Streetart Barcelona Street Style Tour #ILA2015

In my mind, any location deserves a deeper look with regard to the built environment and street art or graffiti found visible to the public.  So when I learned that the International Leadership Association (ILA) was holding their annual conference in Barcelona, I was ecstatic for Barcelona is recognized internationally as a vibrant, creative, abundant street art scene.  

ILA 2015 Post Conference Tour/Workshop:  Barcelona Street Art: An Exploration of Street Art, Culture, Politics, and Culture 

My basic idea was that a tour/workshop featuring Barcelona's street art would be fun affording participants an opportunity to explore boundary and intersectional questions pertaining to: street artists, their art, expression, and subculture versus the streets, and public versus private spaces including who decides what is acceptable; formal (often commissioned) versus informal art; and legality and criminality of artist’s activity.   So I contacted Barcelona Street Style Tour - co-founded by Joachim Castaneda and Mike Frankos assisted by Dominic Attard to see if they might be interested in designing a street art tour specifically for ILA participants - a process that required developing a proposal and selection via a competitive process.  Our proposal, selected for a post-conference tour, included two parts:  (a)  Street Art Tour led by Mike Frankos and (b)  How-to Make Graffiti workshop conducted by Dominic Attard.  

Barcelona is a city with a rich cultural, artistic, and political history. Barcelona’s urban art takes a variety of forms ranging from simple written words to elaborate murals, graffiti, street art, pasteups, tags and stencils. This tour highlighted Barcelona’s graffiti and street art movement showcasing the latest works of art found adorning almost every wall in the city center. For an introduction to Barcelona street art, see Las Calles Hablan is a documentary film about "discovering a hidden world, an extraordinary subculture and the struggle between an artistic community painting for freedom of expression and an increasingly restrictive dogmatic government."  Some highlights of the tour through pictures:  



  1. "Seeing" and observing what is going on within our built environment  is a capacity that must be taught and exercised.  One participant noted, "Now that you see street art, you see it every where."
  2. Street art adds vivaciousness, stories, and richness to the built environment.  The artists who put their works on the streets are people, with stories, and for a variety of reasons, a desire (need?) to express themselves using this media.  
  3. Street art represents a sub culture with rules, norms, and shared understandings.  For example - Barcelona based street artists paint on the roll down metal doors.  Per Mike, travelers are those who paint on the walls...  Placement of tags, signatures, etc. follows rules of the street with regard to respect for artists' work.
  4. Street art takes a variety of forms and styles:  murals, paintings, stickers, pasteups, stencils; characters, figures, scenes, words, shapes, abstracts, etc. 
  5. Street artists have reputations - some artists like Pez have international reputations, they are known, their style is recognizable.
  6. Street art is illegal in Barcelona, offenders face a 3000 euro fine but street artists take the risk, their work is evident throughout the city.
  7. Highlight:  Visiting Base Elements Urban Art Gallery 
  8. A tour/workshop like this raises questions:  Where else is street art?  What is the 'scene' like in the US?  Are the same issues facing US street artists?  Who is studying the phenomena?   How do we incorporate more experiential efforts like this into the ILA.
  9. Post-conference was perfect because ILA participants were relaxed - their presentations were done, nothing was ahead of them except fun.
  10. Next time I would build in a snack break or more time in advance of the tour so people could grab food.
  11. When doing an event like this particularly in an international context - people likely won't be checking email, have a communication contingency.
  12. Do more of these sorts of events at ILA conferences.  Presentations/workshops are fine and serve their purpose but ours is a very educated, thoughtful group - they don't need in your face scholarship to think, learn, and ponder (grin).

Barcelona Street Style Tour

What a great company and group of guys to work with in organizing this tour - fun, responsive to the goals we set forth for the tour/workshop, and interested in the group's makeup and interests.  Joachim took the lead on logistics, scheduling, and helping work out the details with the ILA.  He is efficient, responsive to emails and demonstrated enthusiasm for the project.  Mike Frankos conducted the walking tour - he is a playful spirit with a wonderful gift of gab, and a great story teller knowledgeable about Barcelona and her street art.  He delivered a fun and informative experience. Dominic who conducted the hands on how to create graffiti workshop is a gifted teacher, patient and instructive with a friendly spirit.  Both Mike and Domnic had such a warm sense of humor - something I look for in those I associate with!  

If you find yourself in Barcelona, take the BSST as a way to explore and learn more about street art and to wander the streets with the best.  For corporate planners - if you want an experience that gets your team outside of the office in a group exercise, consider working with BSST to design an experience.  The walking tour plus how-to workshop was a fantastic way to bring people together in a common experience, expand individual capacities to 'see' and provided an opportunity for people to explore their creative side..  


I am originally from San Diego, CA and have spent 15 years living between San Francisco and Barcelona, Spain. In 2002, I left San Diego to attend the University of San Francisco, where I studied fine art with an emphasis on painting. In 2009, I moved from San Francisco to Barcelona, Spain to further my investigation of contemporary art. I attended Metafora Escola d’Arte Contemporani and began to heavily expand my portfolio towards abstract graffiti doing large scale murals all over Spain, Austria and Germany. It was after my first year in Barcelona that I decided to remain in Spain taking on various artists’ assistant positions to some of Spain’s top street artist, and working alongside various platforms promoting street art and graffiti as social and educational initiatives. It was 2012 that Mike Frankos and I launched Barcelona Street Style Tour (BSST) offering an in-depth, up close and personal tour showcasing Barcelona contemporary youth culture with a large emphasis on street art and graffiti.
— Joachim Castaneda, BSST
I am 35 years of age, originally from California and I have been living in Barcelona for almost 5 years. I co-founded Barcelona Street Style Tour with Joachim Castaneda back in 2012 and have been guiding the bulk of the tours since then. Although I am not an artist, I have enjoyed and appreciated street art Graffiti since I was a child.
— Mike Frankos, BSST
I first entered into the world of graffiti in the early 2000’s mainly painting on the train line and focusing on making public property look much nicer. These early years, I think of as the refining years, and post this period, I moved into commissioned murals and pieces. I now find myself living in Barcelona, still painting, but not anywhere illegal anymore, in the comfort of a studio.
— Dominic Attard (aka Rate Oner), BSST


Barcelona Street Style Tour website.  Retrieved from  http://barcelonastreetstyletour.com   

Base Elements Urban Art Gallery website.  Retrieved from http://baseelements.net

Dominic Attard website.  Retrieved from  http://motiquedesigns.wix.com/streetart

International Leadership Association website.  Retrieved from  http://www.ila-net.org

Las Calles Hablan documentary.  Retrieved from  http://vimeo.com/60149775