Graffiti Art of Queen West Street Toronto

Every city we’ve visited have had its share of street art. In Toronto, the graffiti art is most concentrated in the Queen West Street neighborhood of the city. On a cold and breezy day, we scoped the neighborhood, hunting graffiti that is so controversial in this city.

HUG Me Tree

History Unleashes Genius is the acronym for the HUG Me tree. The story of this tree originates from an artist by the name of Elicer. HUG is the name of his graffiti crew. One day, Elicer beautified a stump with his graffiti art. The people of Toronto, including tourists, liked the tree so much and were compelled to hug the tree because it said HUG. Because of this, Elicer decided to make it official and spray painted Me next to the HUG, thus officially becoming the HUG Me Tree and a landmark of Queen West Street neighborhood.

During winter or colder months, the tree is kept in a box. Once the weather warms, the box is removed, and Elicer will put up another painting. So what you see is never the same graffiti art on the tree. Unfortunately on our visit, the tree was still boxed up and looking lifeless. No hugs were given.

Through the Alleys

The alleys of Queen West Street are plastered with graffiti art. We saw a lot of tagging and throw-ups more than we did murals, but there were a few decent paintings noticed. Some paintings seen were done by Elicer, as you’ll see in the pictures.

A mural with a throw-up beneath it from another artist disrespecting the artist who did the mural. Throw-ups in graffiti term basically mean a tag in bubble letters. A regular tag is the most common scribbling of a name you see that is usually considered vandalism. A throw-up is basically a more elaborate tag as seen in this picture. Anytime a tag is seen on a mural is a sign of disrespect. This is different from the artist’s signature.

Painting by Elicer

This mural was done by two different artists. The robot came after the moose, which seems to be talking and giving a message to both moose and people.

Product placement, a paid mural by Jagermeister who hired a local graffiti artist to do the job. This used to be a bar but is sadly going to be replaced by Taco Bell.

This mural is the most disliked piece by the locals because it doesn’t really convey real Toronto, and the picture of the streetcar is incorrect.

“Graffiti Alley”

Graffiti Alley is an unmarked and not-so-well-known place. Most of the locals don’t even know about it or have never visited the most concentrated alley for graffiti art. This alley is an unrestricted zone, meaning it’s a free-for-all without any permissions or fines. Any artist can come and provide their unique graffiti, adding to the street art.

Another cool painting by Elicer.

The biggest mural in Graffiti Alley

Sections of the “biggest mural” dissected

The Toronto Fish. This depicts the people of Toronto because everyone is apparently in sunglasses, holding their cell phones and coffee.

This section of the alley, graffiti artists from all over had a party and painted this mural together, creating a treasure map with their names and where they are from.

Tags, throw-ups, paintings, murals, whatever is graffiti related, they are all controversial for the city of Toronto. Some people appreciate them. Some don’t. We always appreciate cool graffiti art, whether it’s in mural form or not. But, we can’t say we’re big fans of tagging or throw-ups.

What do you think? And which painting do you like the best?