Time Traveler: Photographing European Street Art & Graffiti

Time Traveler: Photographing European Street Art & Graffiti


By: Ryan Seslow

Taking action on traveling opportunities as often as I can, makes me lucky, I admit it. Since 2005 my sweetheart and I have been on a two month per year streak of visiting European cities. A native and well-traveled European herself, and me- a fluid explorer of easy adaptation, we are up for the challenge and excitement of exploring new cities and cultures.

Between 2006 -2009 I began documenting and collecting a series of photographs that emphasize the graffiti and street art in the cities I had spent more than 4 weeks in. As a longtime lover and participant in the graffiti and street art medium, I am always excited to discover what artists are doing around the world. There are tons of fantastic sites and daily blogs that are covering the continued evolution of the street art and graffiti medium, but there is nothing quite as good as seeing the real thing.

Sketch books and my cameras are the usual means of immediacy while I travel, with a good still and a video camera constantly attached to my hand. As a college professor of fine arts, I have a great need to share, discuss, debate, accept, and integrate the content discoveries into my existence. Documenting also allows me to create new works, show  art on a regular basis both domestically and internationally, thus cultivating images of street art into video was a symbiotic step in artistic visualization.

The works are site specific, the entire surrounding environment play a role in the composition of how the art functions. Graffiti and street art  is a form of public art. Everyone has the same potential viewing opportunity, and creates a form of equal inspiration. Some works are outright blatant, but some of which are more subtle, clever and demand your keep eye for retention, and each time I experience new works in a new city, I’m energized.

The video I created is a collection of still images that have left a lasting impression on me and my work, giving my perception of a “traveled to location” a new context. From Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Lyon, Rouen, & Paris France, Verbier, Switzerland, to Antwerp, Belgium, the video also inspired me to conduct several interviews with some of the artists working in the medium, some of which still require translation.

The other side is the debate about graffiti and street art equating to vandalism, a controversy which will go on forever, but the fact of the matter is, its here to stay, and you can find it growing in every part of the world.

The human need to express oneself in an action of immediacy, or in the event of planned longevity seems to be ongoing.

So, next time you pass by street art while traveling, think about what an artist might have been exploring, thinking, sharing to create a truly unique and personal travel moment to take home with you.

“Photographing European Street Art & Graffiti: Video 2006 – 2009” video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk8521pTMpY