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    Insights to street art research by Jonna Tolonen


Jonna Tolonen – a streetwalker and a street art researcher

"I'm genuinely stoked about the power of illegal street art."

As a street art researcher, my focus is on the relationship of street art and society. My interest lies on political and social street art for the reason that what happens in the society is often first visible in the streets. Therefore I walk and photograph streets. I mostly do this in Spain but also in Finland. Most of my research is based on visual ethnographic work. As a result of my studies, I see most of the street art as a medium of communication. Very often street art is also a part of political participation. My Ph.D. dissertation "Visage of Madrid–Illegal Graffiti as a Part of Spanish 15-M Protests" was released in the summer of 2016. Currently I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Lapland in the Faculty of Arts and Design and investigating street artists that paint political and social street art.

Contact me for lecturing, teaching or writing about street art. I have written and talked (both in Finnish and in English) about political, feministic and social street art but also about how street art can be used as a communication tool in city neighborhood activism.

Contact me


The unexpected on the Spanish streets

I have been doing field work for my current street art research in Madrid, Valencia and Las Palmas for the…

Five essential books for a street art researcher

I'm packing my life into boxes: four-month field study of Spanish street art is about to begin. While I went…

MAISMENOS: “Through art I have a way to make people talk about politics”

MAISMENOS is a 12-year-old on-going artistic project of an artist and a graphic designer Miguel Januário from Portugal. MAISMENOS offers…

Are we heading for beautification overload in Finland?

"Dominant role of commissioned street art is dangerous", said Swedish researcher Peter Bengtsen at the Street Art & Urban Creativity…

Street art researcher’s reflections: What street art research has given me?

A year ago I defended my PhD. As a street art researcher my role is to talk about street art…

Street artist Sabek: “I paint because I need it”

Sabek was one of the first street artists I was stoked about while walking in the streets of Madrid back…

What to do with leftover research material?

It has been almost a year since I finished my PhD research. During the research process I visited Madrid for…

Color ‘grey’ has an impact on street art in Valencia

I was very fortunate to visit Valencia in the end of last year: the amount and variety of street art…

Should we demand city authorities to be responsible for collecting photos of illegal graffiti and street art?

I have been studying illegal graffiti and street art for the past four years. For a researcher one of the…



Street art photo archives from Spain

I have been photographing street art since 2008. Most of the of photos from my photo archives will never be published anywhere. You can see here around fifty of my own personal favorites. For that reason the variety of the works is wide: from internationally famous street artists to unknown authors of wall writers.

Madrid street art photos

This archive presents photographs from Madrid, Spain starting from the year 2013.

Valencia street art photos

Photographs from Valencia, Spain from the end of the year 2016.

Lisbon street art photos

Photos from Lisbon, Portugal (July 2017).

You can browse my street art photos also in Vimeo and my Instagram account.

escif valencia


My research interest lies heavily on political and social street art

My focus is on Spanish scene. The journey to study Spanish street art began in 2008 when I lived almost a year in the city of Corunna. I was surprised about the variety of pieces I saw and got interested in the Spanish street art. When the financial crisis hit Spain in the end of 2008, I could see a change in the Spanish cities. There seemed to be more political stencils and social wall writings written also by ordinary citizens, not just by street artists. I began researching Madrid's illegal graffiti as a part of activism and communication and as as result wrote my PhD (2016)  "Illegal graffiti as a part of Spanish 15M movement" [in Finnish].

At the moment I'm doing a research about the social and political street art in Madrid and Valencia. My focus is on the motives of street artists who produce illegal social and political street art.

Follow my research projects: Academia.edu ResearchGate