Mexican Street Art: The Best Mexico City Street Art Tour – Stylewalk MX Review

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Mexican street art is colorful, diverse and incredibly complex. And the street art in Mexico City is one of the best places to witness it. On our recent Mexico City street art tour, we spent several hours walking from piece to piece in the city. During that time, we learned about the process, the lingo, and the people behind some of the most dynamic street art in Mexico City. Here is a taste of our Mexico City street art tour with Stylewalk MX.

_Dragonfly Mexican Street Art Best Mexico City Street Art Tour

Mexican Street Art Best Mexico City Street Art Tour

jocan painting Mexican Street Art Best Mexico City Street Art Tour

Mexican Street Art in Mexico City

For our Mexico City street art tour, we partnered with Stylewalk MX. A small bespoke travel company, Stylewalk MX specializes in authentic experiences in Mexico City’s dynamic creative scene. Stylewalk MX offers Mexican experiences related to food, nightlife, historyarchitecture, and more. Yet I was most interested in their art and design-based tours.

For example, they offer a World Design Capital tour. This Mexico City tour focuses on the best up-and-coming design houses in the city. Instead, we decided on the Mexico City Street Art Tour, and I’m glad we did. You can find Mexican street art all over the country. Yet in Mexico City, it reaches its apex of creativity and scale.

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TDLR: A Quick Rundown of Our Mexico City Street Art Tour

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If you’d rather just look at the pics and get a quick summary of this review of Stylewalk MX’s Mexico City Street Art Tour, then read the bullet points below.

  • The Stylewalk MX Mexico City Street Art Tour is 2.5 hours long and is all walking.
  • The tour is near the Historic Center of Mexico City. The area is safe, flat and has few curbs and stairs.
  • The Mexico City Street Art Tours are in English or Spanish.
  • There is a lot of walking and the sun is harsh at this altitude. So bring water, snacks and sun protection should you need them.
  • After the tour, your guide can assist with onward transportation. Ask them if you want help getting back to your hotel or other destination.
  • Stylewalk MX was extremely professional. For example, once we booked, we received an email confirmation with detailed instructions. This included maps to the meeting point (Google Map & PDF), and clear directions to give a taxi or Uber driver.
  • Since we told them where we were staying, it also included how long a taxi/Uber would take (approximate).
  • Our email also included information about our guide and his contact details. I was able to contact the guide via Whatsapp days before the tour to confirm anything if I needed to.
  • For more info, take a look at the Stylewalk MX website.

Our Mexican Street Art Guide

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Jocan Mexican Street Art Best Mexico City Street Art Tour

At 10 am, we met with Jocan Deka, our Mexico City street art guide. Along with a few others, we set off on a walk that would only cover maybe half a dozen city blocks, more or less. Yet over the course of the next 2.5 hours, we saw some of the most spectacular Mexican street art in the capital. We learned about who made it and how it was made. We also learned a little about the art form’s unique culture and vocabulary.

Jocan once worked at the Fifty-24 Gallery and is deep in the Mexico City street art scene. He knows the players, new and old. He also knows the organizations and infrastructure behind the scenes. For example, much of the best Mexican street art is actually commissioned by the government or other organizations. In addition, there is a hierarchy in the Mexico City street art scene. There are decision makers: people who choose who paints what, and where. Jocan knows these people. From the newest tags on a wall to the largest commissioned piece by global graffiti giants, Jocan helped explain this world to us. And he did this in the span of five or six blocks.

Let that sink in: I’m guessing we covered less than ten blocks of one of the largest cities in the world. It’s possible that this little corner of this historic district has an unusually high concentration of Mexican street art. Even still, it simply blows me away. How much amazing Mexican street art is there across a megapolis like this?

Tagging, Bombing, & Commisioned Work: Mexican Street Art

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One of the first things Jocan taught us about was the graffiti basics of tagging and bombing. “Tagging” is essentially leaving your mark quickly in a spot via a unique spraypaint signature. “Bombing” is like this but often on a larger scale. This is where you often see thick, almost indecipherable script spelling out the name of the artist or his crew.

Jocan talked about the spread of tagging and bombing from 70’s and 80’s. Originally from New York City, soon it made its way across the world and into Mexican Street Art. Are there gang affiliations in Mexican Street Art. Yes, but only some of it. In fact, most Mexican Street Art is made by Mexican Street Artists only. Yet Mexico City has also commissioned street artists from countries such as France, the United States, and Spain.

Jocan explained how some young artists go from a simple tag on a wall to landing large-scale commisioned work.

Variety & Vitality in Mexico City Street Art

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One of the most amazing parts of our Mexico City street art tour is how diverse and current it is. The color palette is never the same. The painting style and design elements aren’t either.

For example, one of my favorite walls had three large figures. Each figure was a completely different style than the next. The first was a portrait with almost Van Gogh-like brush-strokes. The next had a hyper-realistic head fused to a cartoonish x-ray skeleton body. Finally, the third figure was akin to Japanese anime, with clean, comic-book lines and exaggerated features.

Jocan explained how spraypaint and other materials rendered all these techniques.

Collaborations in Mexico City Street Art

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Not far away from here, we saw a large-scale piece created over several years by different artists. The first component was two Mexican dolls. Months later, a different artist was commisioned to add to it. What did he do? He created a monster that ate the head of one of the dolls. Time passed and a third artist from Spain arrived to add a jackal-like creature on the left. Finally, a Mexican street artist added a hyper-realistic image of a child from the Yucatan on the right. The entire piece took years to create, yet its effect is timeless.

Mexican Street Art as Communication

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Street art in Mexico City is always changing. Jocan explained to us as we walked that there’s always a chance that we’ll stumble onto something new. It could be an entirely new completed work. It could simply be a “conversation” happening between Mexican street artists on the walls we pass.

Jocan showed us some of these “conversations,” and gave us some insight into how to read along. For example, it’s not uncommon for someone to paint directly over the work of another. That could be a comment on the skill of the artist or a beef with his team. We saw one beautiful piece that had just been written over — a very poorly executed bomb. Sometimes when new and unskilled Mexican street artists leave their work on walls, you’ll see the word “toy” written nearby. This is to explain that this artist is a child — a novice. In other words, the perpetrator is merely a child using toys, not a craftsman creating art.

The Politics of Mexican Street Art

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One of the most interesting aspects of Styelwalk’s Mexico City street art tour was the political aspect of many works. Without a guide, we would have never understood the underlying meanings of a lot of Mexican street art. For example, Jocan took us to a wall where we saw a jaguar bearing down on some cowering rabbits. I noticed the number “43” on the arm of one of the hares, but it was Jocan that explained why. The rabbits were the students who went missing in the 2014 Iguala Kidnapping, where 43 male students disappeared.

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The final piece we saw held a similar theme. We see a mother waiting for her son to come home. She embraces a shadow, that disintegrates into shadowy birds in flight. This is a massive stencil work. Anyone who appreciates Banksy’s work can see what time and effort it would take to make a stencil of this size and detail.

Making Our Own Mexico City Graffiti

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spray paint Mexican Street Art Best Mexico City Street Art Tour

For the final chapter of our Mexico City street art tour, Jocan took us to a rooftop. Here we would make some Mexican street art of our own. Stylewalk MX had an agreement with the downstairs cafe to allow their guests to used the walls of its roof as our canvas.

First, Jocan pulled out the spray paint cans and demonstrated how to use them. For instance, different nozzles on top made different effects, such as thinner or thicker lines. There were stencils available if we wanted, or we could create our own designs.

Here, the kids went nuts. Spray paint is so much fun to play with, and if I had any complaint of this tour, is that I wish we’d had more time here! The kids loved it.

TIPS for Your Mexico City Street Art Tour with StylewalkMX

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  • We can recommend taking this Mexican Street Art Tour without hesitation. If you choose to go, please consider these things:
  • The tour is a full 2.5 hours of walking and standing. Mostly walking. To fit so much in, Jocan moved fast. We suggest bringing water and snacks with you. And go to the bathroom before you arrive. I’m sure they can arrange a toilet break, but better to avoid them if possible.
  • Because the tour moves fast, we often took pictures as Jocan was talking. Otherwise, we would have held the group up. (Then again maybe we take more pics than the usual guest). There are amazing photo opportunities here. Want to capture some of the best Mexico street art with your camera? Or at least have it as background for selfies? Then start snapping once you arrive.
  • Mexico City is often a very sunny place. And at this altitude, the sun is harsh. Wear a hat and long sleeves, or bring your favorite sunscreen.
  • To be on time, ask Stylewalk how long a car ride will be from your accommodation. That way you can book a ride accordingly.
  • For more info, contact Stylewalk MX at their website.

Have You Seen Any Street Art in Mexico City?

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Where have you seen street art in Mexico? Do you have tips on where to see great Mexico street art of graffiti in Mexico City? Like I said earlier, we’ve now only covered the tiniest fraction of the street art Mexico City has to offer. We’ve seen some great murals in San Miguel de Allende, and I know Oaxaca has it’s share of great Mexican street art. Where should we look for more?

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Disclosure: Stylewalk MX sponsored this Mexico City Street Art tour.  However, my opinions are my own and I only recommend places/services that I believe will genuinely help your travel. We honestly loved this Mexican street art tour and recommend it highly. We plan to use Stylewalk MX on our own again in the future: so many of their tours sound great: not just the Mexican Street Art tour! That design one and the architecture too.

Comments

  1. One of the reasons I’ve fallen in love with street art is its dynamism – you can visit the same place within a span of a year and you will see two different art work, maybe even a new one!

    Lovely pictures you have there and a walking tour really helps travelers understand the art behind street art.

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