Discover Los Angeles Street Art Car Free

"I Was a Botox Junkie" in the Arts District | Photo by Matt Marriott

From its origins in the 1960s, street art has become an established worldwide art movement. Los Angeles artists were among the pioneers of this art form, and today L.A. has thousands of street murals depicting life via artistic styles that can range from classical to modern, and impressionistic to punk and hip-hop. Few areas of L.A. provide a more condensed collection of the best in local street art than the Arts District, located on the eastern edge of Downtown. Read on for an itinerary of street art gems in Downtown L.A. that can be explored without a car.

Recommended Methods of Travel: Walking or Biking
Total Distance: 2.7 miles. Distance Walking or Biking: 2.7 miles

"Heart of Los Angeles" at Angel City Brewery | Photo by Matt Marriott

"Heart of Los Angeles" - antigirl

What better way to get both an artistic and symbolic start to the walking tour than a visit to Angel City Brewery, with walls featuring work from both antigirl’s Heart of Los Angeles and JR’s Wrinkles of the City. San Pedro-raised antigirl (aka Tiphanie Brooke) created the “Heart Los Angeles” symbol as an answer of sorts to the iconic “I♥NY” emblem Milton Glaser created in the 1970s. The “hearts” have become a signature of sorts around the city for antigirl, and are fast-becoming one of the most sought-after photo spots. Angel City Brewery is about a block south of the Little Tokyo/Arts District station of the Metro Rail Gold Line.

JR's “The Wrinkles of the City” at Angel City Brewing | Photo by R. E. ~, Flickr

“The Wrinkles of the City” - JR

The brewery also features one of JR’s haunting The Wrinkles of the City portraits. With featured street art in cities ranging from New York to Shanghai, Havana and Berlin, JR began painting his Los Angeles Wrinkles series locally in 2011 as a grittier, realistic counterpoint to the glossy, airbrushed images that are often synonymous with L.A. and its entertainment industry. His insistence on creating street art allows him to boast about having “the biggest art gallery in the world,” and, in this case, Angel City Brewery serves as one of the larger walls of that gallery. 

“The One with the Bubbles” | Photo courtesy of ~db~, Flickr

"The One with the Bubbles" - Kim West

Based in Downtown L.A., painter Kim West exhibits nationally and is collected and commissioned by everyday people, art collectors, celebrities, corporations and educational institutions. The One With the Bubbles is tucked into a nook off E. 3rd Street that’s framed by blooming jasmine and sandwiched between Wurstkuche, Apolis and the flagship Poketo store. In her statement about the work, West notes that the girl blowing bubbles from a wine glass is from an old magazine photo. West wanted to have the bubbles float up into the jasmine blooms “while allowing a more bold, saturated part to emerge from the sidewalk and ground the image.”

"I Was a Botox Junkie" in the Arts District | Photo by Matt Marriott

"I Was a Botox Junkie" - Tristan Eaton

Los Angeles native Tristan Eaton began painting street murals as a teenager in the 1990s. Eaton has lived and painted in London, Detroit and Brooklyn - he moved back to L.A. in 2012 to pursue his paintings and large-scale murals full time. With a style influenced by comic books, skate culture and graffiti, Eaton’s work has been exhibited in galleries around the world and is in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). I Was a Botox Junkie, like JR’s Wrinkles, is another take on the image self-consciousness that pervades local culture. The colorful mural was painted in 2013 and is located a few steps west of The One with the Bubbles.

Untitled mural at EightyTwo | Photo courtesy of BlacklistLA

"Untitled" - Vyal + RISK

From the Botox mural, head north on Traction, turn left on E. 3rd Street, and left on E. 4th Place to EightyTwo. On the exterior of the bustling bar and arcade, you’ll see an untitled collaborative piece by Vyal and RISK. Vyal, aka Vyal One, is a native of East L.A. and is known for his dark, detailed style with its signature eyes and bubbles. RISK is a pioneering graffiti artist who was one of the first in Southern California to paint freight trains, and then took his art from the streets and into the gallery with his legendary series of Third Rail shows.

"James Dean" | Photo by David P. Flores (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

"James Dean" - David Flores

A native of California, artist David Flores first gained notoriety with his designs for the skateboarding industry. Since then, his work has garnered international acclaim, ranging from his signature “Stained-Glass” murals of iconic figures, to limited edition vinyl toys, paintings and more. Based on a 1955 photo of James Dean by legendary photographer Phil Stern, Flores created a mural that playfully depicts Dean raising his hands like President Richard Nixon in a double “V” for victory sign.

Audrey Hepburn | Photo courtesy of BlacklistLA

"Audrey Hepburn" - Free Humanity

Street artist Free Humanity painted this 15x50-foot mural, It's that wonderful old fashioned idea that others come first and you come second, which depicts Audrey Hepburn in what appears to be a “field” of hearts. From Septerhed’s traffic box, head back to Los Angeles Street, make a right (south), then head four blocks down to the corner of Los Angeles and Winston Streets. The mural is on the side of a Subway location.

“Parking” | Photo courtesy of The Sparkle Factory, Facebook

"Parking" - Banksy

The work of infamous British street artist Bansky is known for its subversive, dark humor and often biting political and social commentary. His distinctive stencilling technique has been showcased on city streets, walls and bridges around the world. Banksy’s first film, Exit Through the Gift Shop debuted at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for Best Documentary at the 83rd Academy Awards. In April 2010, the film made its West Coast premiere at the Los Angeles Theatre in Downtown L.A. To coincide with the premiere, Banksy created several works across the city, including Parking outside The Sparkle Factory at 9th and Broadway.

Located across the street from the Ace Hotel, the historic seven-story building opened as the home of L.L. Burns Western Costume Co. in 1914. The iconic scene from Safety Last! (1923), featuring Harold Lloyd dangling from a clock tower high above the street, was filmed on the roof of the L.L. Burns building.