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Philly Travels: Zach Patten Checks Out Street Art in Reykjavík, Iceland

July 18, 2013

Written by Zach Patten


(Photos by Zach Patten)

The city of Philadelphia has been transformed into a living canvas, thanks to the passion and vigor of our creative community.

The dynamic range of our city’s crowdsourced urban decor is transforming neighborhoods and breathing personality into elements of the landscape that our eyes once ceased to recognize. Blank walls have been varnished with brilliant murals, mailboxes disguised by wheatpastes, and street corners enriched by mysterious linoleum mosaics.

Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík has been redefined by the imagination of its street artists, much like the creative renaissance that has taken place on our own streets over the past several years.

Two things immediately stood out to me as I walked through Reykjavík last week. One, tags can be found damn near anywhere — the beach, downtown, even the bathrooms at Keflavík International Airport. And two, the downtown area is teeming with murals that are fully integrated into the fabric of the city.

With the skies consistently gray and the weather often conjuring up a desire to toss on a Bon Iver album, I got the impression that street art is welcomed at every turn. It adds a burst of color that won’t retreat from what could be a relatively gloomy scene otherwise.


Some murals are massive and intricately detailed while others seem almost hidden from the public eye, like a scavenger hunt without a map. There are dozens of additional pieces that I didn’t have a chance to photograph, but I really recommend taking a trip to Iceland to explore for yourself. Between arts, nature, and the overall culture, it’s a nation that seems to value and embrace the simple pleasures of everyday life.

Zach Patten is a Philadelphia copywriter and project manager who is fascinated with urban development and new media. He is a contributing writer at Curbed Philly and runs his own blog on the side. Read him here or follow him on Twitter @zpatten.

Check out more of Zach’s Reykjavík street art photos…


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