What’s the difference between graffiti and street art?



Graffiti which is believed to come from the Italian word “graficar” has a rep for being illegalThis word’s meaning is linked to drawings, patterns, marks, scribbles or messages painted, carved or written on the wall or on any surface. It’s history dates back to the 70’s in Philadelphia and New York City with artists marking on metros. Another definition is “to scratch” and because of this people debate whether or not cave painting were the first works in graffiti-style. Culturally, graffiti has been tied to other words such as vandalism and protest. It’s more of a competition between artists for territory and usually the tag is just the signature of whoever is doing the artwork. The goal is to get their name everywhere.

Street Art


When we think of street art (arte urbano) these are usually pieces that have been commissioned or paid for by the building that the artwork will be displayed. Also, there is typically more technique used in the piece with mediums such as murals, stencils, and posters. Handmade stickers are popular with street artists because of the speed at which a visual is placed into a public venue. The goal of street art is to make a political or social statement which might possibly be directed toward social criticism. Overall, street artists want the public to not only see their work, but to connect, understand what they are seeing, and then have an emotional response.

What are some well-known artists you should know?

Juan Carlos Argüello Garzo



Under the alias Muelle, Juan Carlos Argüello Garzo was a pioneer of street art in Madrid since the early eighties. Unfortunately he died at the age of 29, but before that you couldn’t walk down a Madrid street without seeing his logo on walls or public spaces. People say that he could be known as the Banksy of Madrid. Next time you’re strolling around see if you can find his tag.




Eltono is a French artist born in Paris in 1975. His work has evolved over the years and mostly influenced by his history with graffiti. It all started in 1989 where he tagged mostly on train tracks and highway walls. Since then, his work has evolved over the years and is known for his colorful mural paintings that are displayed around the world. Check out more of his work here.

The Rotu Band



La Banda del Rotu is a street art crew from Madrid that’s made up of five artists. Their work is made up of crazy doodles that have a little bit of humor behind it. Their inspiration comes from many things including comics, music, and literature. When searching for their work the best place to start is in the Lavapiés neighborhood around the Tabacalera. Read more about Lavapiés below.

What neighborhoods should you visit?



When exploring street art in Lavapiés you should check out the Tabacelera. This building used to serve as a tabacco factory but now it is used as a social center. Here you can find activities like yoga, photography, and fine arts.

There are great opportunities to visit this neighborhood to walk around and view art, and that’s during one of Lavapiés many great festivals. The most well known festival is Tapapiés, but if you’re more of an arty than a foodie than C.A.L.L.E. is the festival for you. The goal was for both merchants and artists to come together, share their talents, and bring more business to the neighborhood. It all started in 2o13, and since then over 100 artists have contributed 200 artworks. Stay tuned for what’s to come in 2020!



In Malasaña you should start your journey at the Tribunal metro stop. Here you have many options but we recommend taking  the Fuencarral Street exit and head toward La Palma Street. Also, you can stroll down San Pablo Corredera Alta and San Vicente Ferrer where you can find graffiti, street art, and more.


Like Lavapiés, there are some great festivals that allow merchants and artists to collaborate. Pinta Malasaña is the most popular where businesses provide their windows, metal closures, and walls to artists to fill with amazing artwork. It’s a big turnout with over 300 artists who come to participate during the month of April of every year. In February there is another great exhibition Urvanity. Here you will find artwork in places like the Barceló Market and the COAM (Official College of Architects).

La Latina


La Latina is a short walk from Lavapiés and is filled great artwork. One of the best places to visit is the plaza of Mercado de la Cebada. It’s renovation has an interesting history when Boa Mistura took over the space and created something beautiful. Boa Mistura is an urban art group that developed in Madrid in 2001. Their work is not only in Madrid but in other countries around the world including Italy, Greece, and Portugal. Their style is very colorful and ironically enough the project at the market has the word “COLOR” written with one letter on each of the 6 domes. Each dome has its own color either red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple.


Their style is very colorful and ironically enough the project at the market has the word “COLOR” written with one letter on each of the 6 domes. Each dome has its own color either red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple. What’s unique about the work is that it uses the technique of anamorphosis, which shows a distortion in perspective and can only be viewed from a certain angle.

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