Miami

Explore The History of Wynwood Street Art Through The Eyes of a Local Graffiti Artist

Local artist Pedro Amos brings his background in street art to Wynwood with Miami's Best Graffiti Guide

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Miami's historic Wynwood neighborhood has become a tourist hotspot for taking pictures with the latest art installations painted on the walls.

When local graffiti artist Pedro Amos would see visitors taking pictures of the art he and his friends created, he got the idea to start a business highlighting the history of street art in Wynwood.

Six years ago, Amos created Miami's Best Graffiti Guide — a service that guides visitors through Wynwood to learn more about the art in the neighborhood and the artists who created it.

"The whole point of the company was to tell the story of this art movement. It's fun, but it's almost disrespectful to just take pictures just for your profile picture, or you don't know the who or why of that mural," Amos said.

How did Pedro Amos get involved in the South Florida graffiti scene?

Amos started doing graffiti in 1994 by learning traditional techniques while also experimenting with abstract expressionism and pop art.

"Back then, you didn't just grab a can and spray paint a wall," Amos said. "One guy would know and then he would teach you the alphabet and you practiced that and then you think you are ready, but you are not."

Amos says that growing up, graffiti wasn't as widely respected as an art form as it is today. Instead, he says it was primarily associated with crime and vandalism.

"It was very much demonized and looked down upon," Amos said. "It was a lot different back then."

Before his art became a staple in Wynwood, Amos traveled both domestically and internationally, painting and developing his craft as an artist.

It wasn't until 2005 that property developers began transforming Wynwood into what it is today.

Amos explained that before Wynwood became a heavily visited neighborhood with graffiti on every corner, local Miami graffiti artists would only have "penits" to spray paint in secret.

According to MiamiGraffiti.com, the term penit is used for any illegal graffiti-oriented building, or buildings, frequented by a variety of writers, becoming an epicenter for graffiti in the area.

"There was one on Northwest 7th Street, which is the airport penit, and one by Mall of the America's which was the Malibu penit," Amos said. "There were all these little places that were not legal, but no one would really go in and bother you."

What type of tours does Miami’s Best Graffiti Guide offer?

Since 2016, Miami's Best Graffiti Guide has been guiding visitors, either on foot, by golf cart or by bike, through Wynwood to showcase the history behind street art in the neighborhood.

Leroy Beekman and Sarah Leder were visiting Miami from Columbus, Ohio, and had never heard of Wynwood until a quick Google search led them to take a tour with Miami's Best Graffiti Guide.

"I didn't even realize the history behind all of it until we came down here," Leder said. "I'm just really impressed, and I can't believe how many artists from all over the world come here. The colors, the different styles, I never expected all of this."

Leder and Beekman jumped on the back of Amos's golf cart and got to ride around for an hour taking pictures and learning about some of Wynwood's latest displays, which are ever-changing.

"We come from a small town and we have graffiti, but it is not to this level. To come here and see what goes into it with the artwork, the depth, and how they can do the bubble letters just brings it to life. To be able to learn the history and see some of the artists today was really cool," Beekman said.

Amos also offers a graffiti class that shows people how to properly spray the paint out of the can.

"Once you see it, a lot of people are like 'that's so cool, I can do it,'" Amos said. "Then you put a can in their hand and they're like 'how does this even work?' The questions are endless."

The 45-minute demo includes spray paint, spray caps, gloves and masks. After learning the basics from Amos, visitors can take creative control and start spraying on a legit wall in the heart of Wynwood.

"You know it's art. You know it makes you happy," he said. "It's not food and water — you're not going to die without it — but your life is better with it."

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