In 2011, a 16 year old boy was shot and killed by police when he was caught creating street art in Bogotá. The police officers attempted to justify their actions by falsely claiming that the boy was involved in a bus robbery. The incident started a city-wide protest and as a result, street art is no longer seen as a crime in Bogotá. Today, especially in the Candelaria and Centro areas, street art is everywhere.
Like the rest of the world, street artists in Bogotá use walls and bridges along major highways and the walls of old warehouses to display their art. But in Bogotá there is another option too, businesses often cooperate with street artists to offer their own homes and businesses as blank canvases.
The owner pays for the materials, the artist gets a ‘canvas’ on which they can create their art, knowing that it will be welcome and not be painted over or removed. This legitimacy together with the permissive attitude towards street art, means that some of the art is large scale and some of it has been around for years.
Street Art Tour
If you’re in Bogotá, we definitely recommend taking the Bogota Graffiti Tour. The tours are run by street artists and other people involved in the Street Art scene. The tours are free but accept donations depending on what you think the tour is worth. The tour makes for an interesting, fun and informative few hours and is a great way to learn about Colombia’s social and political history too. It’s well worth a decent donation.