Graffiti workshops in Berlin - the astronaut

Street art classes: our first workshop

Treetop Travel Journalism now runs Berlin style street art classes. You can read here about out very first workshop!

At the beginning of our October project, Treetop teamed up with street artists Ale Senso and Stefano Paggano to run the first of our street art classes. The theme of this workshop was ‘Recycling in Context‘. The artists showed us how we can bring to life and reuse old, discarded materials for artistic expression. Four of us spent an afternoon getting creative in ‘Apartment A’, a formerly abandoned flat in West Berlin.

Street art classes took part in Apartment A
‘Apartment A’ – the venue for our first street art workshop
First things first: buying the materials

A couple of days before our graffiti workshop, we had to head to off to buy our materials. We visited three different shops to get the necessary supplies, and it was a full afternoon spent walking through the Berlin districts of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. It was a street art tour of sorts, as I learned of Ale’s own artistic history, and the origins of many of the murals and graffiti crews in this area.

Street art tour in Berlin
A famous 30 year old piece of graffiti we passed while buying our materials

Our fist stop was at the infinitely cool ‘Overkill‘. This Kreuzberg based shop sells retro sneakers and retro clothing. Crucially, for our purposes, they also have a huge selection of spray paint and graffiti supplies. It was here we bought all our spray cans and acrylic paints for the classes.

Our graffiti classes supplies were bought at Overkill
The first stop for our graffiti supplies was ‘Overkill’ a shop based in the trendy district of Kreuzberg

Next up, we visited ‘Planet Modular‘, a vast arts, crafts and design supplies store by the U-Bahn Moritzplatz. This multi floor behemoth is a favourite playground for architects, builders, designers and artists. Luckily I had Ale with me, and she knows her way around, otherwise I could’ve easily got lost in the labyrinth of materials. In the end, after about half an hour, we found our perspex sheets and scalpels for stencilling, as well as various other necessities for our classes.

Planet Modular - arts and crafts store in Berlin
‘Planet Modular’ – a huge art and design store in Berlin

The third and final stop was over the Landwehr Canal and up into the district of Neukölln. Here we arrived at ‘Bauhaus‘, a hardware supplies warehouse. We bought the final few items needed for our classes: canvases, paint brushes, masking tape and gloves.

Street art course - our graffiti supllies
Before the class starts – the supplies!

The two of us then lugged all the materials over to Ale and her team mates’ ‘atelier’, fortunately also in Neukölln. We stashed the street art supplies there and took a much needed breather, while having a little tour of the carpentry and woodwork shop that her colleague runs. It was easy to see some overlapping themes between this place and the recycling concept for our classes — there were many old items being mended and adapted so they would be fit for reuse.

Where the workshop took place

Our street art classes are held in a formerly abandoned apartment in the Berlin district of Mariendorf. There are 8 full size murals, all painted by Italian artist Ale Senso. Ale has had this space for over two years, and it is used for cultural events, art workshops, exhibitions and, most recently, was used for an episode of the upcoming web series ‘Generation Berlin’.

The astronaut a mural painted by Ale Senso
‘The Astronaut’ in Apartment A
Street art classes in Berlin - Liebespaar mural
‘The lovers’, a mural in Apartment A
The theme of the workshop

Our first workshop was called ‘Recycling in Context’. Ale and Stefano (the class leaders) aimed to demonstrate the limitless possibilities an artist can use to create a visual piece. They brought random items, some of which were found on the street, and showed us how they can be used as inspiration, or as stencils for creative effects.

Our two graffiti artists have contrasting backgrounds and styles when in comes to street art – Ale specialises in large murals, and abstract concepts, whereas Stefano comes from the tagging and character based graffiti side. Their styles may be different, but the recycling and sustainability themes are based around a mutually appreciated concept.

What we created in the workshop

The four of us were first given an introduction to the styles and thought processes of the two artists. They then shared with us some examples of their own work, describing how they made it and how they came to conceptualise the artwork.

Inspiration for our graffiti classes
Some inspiration for our own street art creations

Two of us took to the stencilling area, while the other two headed to the spray painting wall. The street art mentors gave were on hand with tips and guidance as we aimed to bring our ideas in to being. What struck me most was how different all our pieces of work ended up being!

Our street art classes
Regina gets to work in the spray paint section
Our graffiti course
Billy and Lauren in the early stages of their artwork; the stencilling section
Finished artwork by project member Ljuba
Ljuba’s finished artwork
Graffiti classes
Lauren’s grenade stencil
What else do we offer as part of our project?

Treetop Travel Journalism is first and foremost a travel writing project, which sees international students come to Berlin and work together to create a published travel guide.

Those on our programme also attend interactive German language classes and come on our customised tours of one of the world’s most historically and culturally interesting cities.

If you are interested in joining one of our programmes, please get in touch with us for any enquiries!