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Take a Tour of San Francisco's Street Art, Then Make Your Own

Conde Nast Traveler

Photograph courtesy of 1AM Close

Photograph courtesy of 1AM

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Photograph courtesy of 1AM

There's no shortage of cool museums and gallery exhibits to visit in San Francisco, but any local will tell you, you'll find some of the best stuff on the streets—if you know where to look. A great place to learn about the amazing graffiti in San Francisco is the 1AM Gallery, a street art-obsessed creative space in San Francisco’s ever-evolving SoMA neighborhood. Best of all? Owner Daniel Pan and his team will teach you how to add your own art to the mix. (Legally).

First, you'll get a tour and debriefing of some of the best existing art in SoMA—"SoMA’s industrial, so there are lots of large walls perfect for graffiti,” Pan says—while soaking up the fascinating history of regional graffiti. “After we get into the origins, we'll talk about the styles that have evolved since then,” adds Pan. "Then, you’ll learn how to walk the walk."

Just like graffiti writers don't write their own names, Pan will teach you how to create your own pseudonym and alternative identity. You'll be given a sketchbook, and tips on creating your own unique letter style. Then, you'll learn how to use a spray can and the nuances of creating art with one (there's a little more to it than painting a piece of furniture, Pan adds). Much like paint brushes, different cans have different tips which product a range of effects. As a group, you'll come up with a theme for one large outdoor mural, which will remain outside for around a week or two for the world to see.

Photograph courtesy of 1AM Close

Photograph courtesy of 1AM

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Photograph courtesy of 1AM

Whether it's in the studio's Intro to Graffiti class or their most popular offering, the Practice Fusion Workshop, you'll walk away with a deeper understanding of San Francisco's vibrant street culture. You'll also go home with some (more appropriately-sized) memorabilia for the date—a stenciled shirt, canvas, and a bag of goodies that include sketchbooks, stickers, and markers. Another cool thing: If you download the awesome 1AM mobile app, which curates and gives directions to the best street art in cities around the world. (1000 Howard Street; 415-861-5089; www.1amsf.com)

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