There are two words that sum up Berlin for me. Sexy-grunge.
I can honestly say that I have never come across a city that I have described as Sexy-grunge before – so I knew I was going to fall head over heels for Berlin!
This city has been sitting at the top of my bucket list for far too long, so when I saw that it was the last stop on the Topdeck Eastern Wanderer trip, I immediately started planning my urban adventure.
With 24 hours to explore and an abundance of artwork to discover, I set off on an Alternative Street Art tour that would bring me to see some of the greatest examples of street art and graffiti in Berlin.
One of the things that sets this tour apart is the fact that every guide is a street artist/graffiti writer themselves. Our guide, Curtis, was a Brooklyn native who knew the street art of Berlin like the back of his hand. These guys are the real deal, the experts, the people who know the Berlin street art scene inside and out.
As we wandered from east side to west, we discovered the history and culture behind this art form, as well as the (often highly dangerous) work that goes into it and stories behind some of Berlin's most famous pieces.
Don’t be fooled, street art is still very much illegal in Berlin, and apparently the artists want to keep it that way – because that's what makes it so fun!
When it comes to ‘tagging’ and ‘bombing’ in the street art world, the bigger the risk, the more respected the artist will be. The higher the building the better, and if you need to hang upside down off a bridge, you’re sure to gain some serious brownie points.
As we delved into the many stories about Berlin’s famous urban art, I began to really understand the reasoning behind this art form. Graffiti and street art are simply another form of communication. The artists want to be remembered; they want their work to be seen. It’s their own unique stamp on the world (and they will do whatever it takes to get their stamp seen far and wide).
After wandering the streets of Berlin, it was time to visit the artists’ workshop space (which is located in a former abandoned margarine factory, in case you were wondering) – and yes, it is exactly what you are picturing in your mind right now! Insanely detailed masterpieces cover every inch of the walls from floor to ceiling. Here we got the opportunity to try out the techniques we had learned about on the tour and make our very own canvas piece to take home with us.
Not only did I get to finally knock Berlin off my bucket list, I also got to add ‘Badass Street Artist’ to my CV as well. Not a bad way to end one of the best trips of my life!
Jess Glynn is an Irish Photographer, Vlogger and a self-professed social media addict. She's always on the prowl for a pop of colour and positivity in the world, and has recently packed up her bags to embark on a one year trip around the world - her second gap year in the past five years. She classifies her camera as an extra body part, so you definitely won’t find her without it as she documents her colour-filled adventures over on her YouTube channel and Instagram channel (@The_GapYear_Guru).