Exploring London's 3 best graffiti neighbourhoods / by Tom Oliver Payne

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been exploring. And not much has changed now that I’m in my 20s. But when I go somewhere new, I don’t just sit in a café, or see a boring landmark. Instead, I discover random parts of a city, hang with other creatives and check out exciting new ideas.

This week I teamed up with Converse to explore my own city like I haven’t before. I decided to seek out the neighbourhoods which not only attract street artists from across the world, but are at the forefront for young artists who are forging new paths.

Converse (Chuck Taylor II Neon) was the perfect partner to explore the adventure this incredible city has to offer. Chuck II is a product synonymous with pushing creative boundaries – something which is fundamental to who I am. That, together with a commitment to enabling young people to think bigger, they were a refreshing wingman on my exploration of London’s urban art.


1. Shoreditch

Shoreditch is the centre of London’s street art scene. Streets like Brick Lane may be popular with tourists, but it’s also where artists have their work recognised right across the world.

I took off up Hanbury Street, which is coated with some of the best murals I’ve ever seen. Then, heading to the Nomadic Gardens, I met some barefoot hippies and chilled in one of the most colourful public spaces in London. Huge art works spread across the railway tracks and small little throw-ups surrounded the community campfire. Awesome.

Shoreditch may be the centre of London’s street art scene, but that’s not to say leave it off your bucket list – just make sure you explore the backstreets.

2. Camden Town

Camden Town has been synonymous with music and creativity since the 60s. And today, it continues to be more inspirational than ever.

Heading past the world-renowned Camden Lock Markets, it was just a matter of seconds before I was down some laneways and surrounded by some seriously amazing shit. A super detailed artwork by Otto Schade acts as a memorial to Amy Winehouse, and a huge piece by Dan Kitchener is – in my opinion – his best addition to his ‘Liquid Lights’ series.

But there was one bit of paint that caught my attention in particular. Created by Pang, this was beautiful portrait of a recent Syrian refugee in London. Apparently the man came to the alleyway himself to help complete the piece - a cool reminder how art can influence the political world.

Camden’s creative scene has continually broken barriers, and just like the music, its street art scene seems to only get better with age.

3. Hackney Wick

Hackney Wick is a neighbourhood where young people are generally free to make noise, party, and paint walls. Not only does the cheap rent offer the perfect place for creatives to live, but its huge old warehouse spaces give plenty of room for imaginative musicians and artists to experiment with fresh ideas. Just about every wall in Hackney Wick is covered with vivid colours from an emerging new artist.

By the time I was done checking out the The Wick’s graffiti scene, it was time to indulge in some music. It’s a good thing my Chuck II’s were super comfortable for the full day out… and of course a night on the dance floor.

As a young creative in London, it’s important I’m always seeking out the next opportunity. It doesn’t matter where I am, or what time of day it is, I’ve got to be ready for whatever comes my way. Psyched to team up with Converse on this adventure, I couldn't imagine a better collaboration to explore the neighbourhoods at the forefront of the city’s street art culture.

Chuck II's are available from Converse.com.

Photos by Sam Jackson and Mali-Koa.