Once upon a time, graffiti was viewed as vandalism. But those days are long gone, and in its place are tours that are honor the craft. Graff Tours, based out of Queens, was the first graffiti tour company to open in NYC.
Gabriel Schoenberg, who started Graff Tours, was a student at NYU when he originally came up with the idea. Inspired by a graffiti tour he took while studying abroad in Argentina back in 2009, Schoenberg stated, “I quickly realized that a street art tour was the best way to learn about a city. So when I moved back to NY, I quickly adopted the idea and created the first graffiti and street art tour in NYC combining my experience in tourism (my family business) with my passion for art.”
Schoenberg runs the tours along with fellow art history buff, Kate Murphy. Murphy received her MA in Art History from the University of Pittsburgh. She also completed an internship with Pittsburgh’s prestigious Carnegie Museum, whereupon she developed a love for art appreciation. Murphy later moved to NYC and began working for Graff Tours in 2012.
To date, there are six different tours to choose from: two group walking tours, two private tours, and one car tour. Areas covered include Brooklyn and Manhattan. Prices range from $15 to $250 depending on the tour.
Graff Tours also offers specialized graffiti lessons led by working artists. Lessons cover everything from technical skills to general art education. Lessons are an hour long and take place outside at First St. Green Park in Manhattan. Private lessons are available upon request.
In addition to tours and lessons, the company also offers graffiti workshops. These hybrid seminars are a mix between a tour and a graffiti lesson. Workshops are typically two hours long and are hosted in either downtown Manhattan or Bushwick, Brooklyn.
Graff Tours was awarded a 2016 Certificate of Excellence by TripAdvisor for their high-ranking customer reviews.