The history of street art in Shoreditch


During the early 90s, Shoreditch wasn’t known for being a place that tourists would flock to see. However, over the last 20 years, the neighbourhood has become a cultural hotspot that has birthed some of London’s best alternative artists.

Book your stay at the M by Montcalm Shoreditch London to explore the local area. You’ll find that our hotels near Shoreditch are surrounded by incredible urban artwork from the city’s most talented artists. Here’s a quick look at the rise of street art in Shoreditch.


The early years

During the late 80s and early 90s, concrete jungles such as Hackney and Shoreditch served as canvases for who were then considered vandals. It was rebellious youngsters and alternative artists ahead of their time that gave rise to tagging culture. This was the practice of signing a wall, building or surface with your ‘tag’. As tagging became more popular, we saw more artistic variations on the streets of Shoreditch. Creative lettering and colouring began to take graffiti to a whole new level and set in place the foundations for a new form of art.

As taggers ad graffiti artist began to experiment more, Shoreditch became a petri dish for experimental creativity and expressive urban art. What once were nicknames sprayed on the side of buildings were now evolving into more complex designs that required genuine artistic skill to create. It was during the late 90s that Shoreditch began to experience cultural, architectural and commercial changes that turned it into the alternative urban oasis it is today. It was also around the time that a certain street artist named Banksy appeared.

Coming of age

Throughout the 2000s, graffiti began taking on a whole new form. The creations that were now being applied to the streets of Shoreditch were drawing more attention with new design styles that began to incorporate social and political messages. After Banksy exploded onto the scene with his many counter-cultural street installations, more artists began popping up all across the country. However, London and Shoreditch remained the epicentre of the movement, with the local community showing support and appreciation for the newly emerging art form.

The last decade has illustrated just how far street art has come from being an anti-social crime. It is now respected as a genuine art form by art institutions and galleries all across London. Famous art houses such as the Tate Modern and the Serpentine Gallery have featured work from popular urban artists over the last decade. Shoreditch has championed the rise of street art by making efforts to preserve the work created and by providing space for new artists to showcase their work and develop their skills.

More artists and collectors within the industry are now talking about street art and looking for ways to take the practice even further. The development of projects around Shoreditch such as BSMT Space has helped emerging street artists gain recognition for their work. A stroll through the heart of Shoreditch will allow you to see just how far the world of street art has come.