Lonely Planet Writer

One woman is using her bike to discover street art culture around the world

In the summer of 2017, German graphic designer and photographer Nina Schwarzenberg decided to merge her two loves; cycling and street art. Packing up her camera equipment, she set off on an ambitious journey to discover communities of artists in different countries around the world while experiencing the freedom of travelling by bike.

Nina and her friend Mareike in Athens. Image by You Have To Sit Here

Starting in Venice, Nina cycled along the coast of Italy and through Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania and Greece, before going to Israel and the Palestinian Territories. “Travelling by bike is truly the most amazing thing I have ever done. The freedom that comes with it is incredible. You’re very flexible and don’t have to wait for buses or trains, you can go off the beaten track and explore lesser known places and use paths that cars can’t get near to. In cities, you don’t have to sit in traffic or struggle to find a parking spot. You experience the country in so much more detail, the texture of the roads, the wildlife, the smells, the wind, the hills, the people,” Nina told Lonely Planet Travel News.

Street art by A Place to Create in Melbourne.
A street art piece entitled “A Place to Create” in Melbourne. Image by Nina Schwarzenberg

Upon reaching a new place, Nina contacts local street artists, sometimes through Instagram, or she meets up with friends of artists that she has met in other cities. “Sometimes I just bump into people while they are doing projects and I just start talking to them and ask if I can take pictures. Once I met two German guys on a night out and they turned out to be street artists who were in Tel Aviv to do a street art project the next day. So it can be quite random and spontaneous sometimes,” Nina said.

A Graffiti Fun workshop in Amsterdam. Image by Nina Schwarzenberg

While meeting up with strangers in new locations can often be daunting, Nina has found that her interest in art works as the perfect icebreaker. “Most street artists are graphic designers too, so we have loads to talk about. It’s a great way to meet interesting, local people and learn about the country and the career in different countries and to get recommendations. No tour guide needed. I also learn about different street art techniques, which is best for the different artwork people want to represent and which walls are most suitable for those different techniques. Some of the street artists that I’ve met taught me how they work and let me do some of their pieces. I also find that I learn a lot about myself and my photography doing these shoots,” Nina said.

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Next on Nina’s travel list is Morocco, Japan and Canada. When destinations are separated by a great distance, she usually checks her bicycle in and flies, before taking to the road again.

Street artist Marshal in Hamburg.
Street artist Marshal in Hamburg. Image by Nina Schwarzenberg

More of Nina’s work, as well as information and a blog about her travels is available at her official website.