Sarah J. Carlson

Contemporary Young Adult Author

Graffiti hunting in Singapore, land of the Merlion



(Taken near Arab Street, Singapore)

A just question and very fitting for this blog post!

When I told people back in Wisconsin that my husband and I were renting out our house, I was quitting my job, and we were moving to Singapore, I usually got some variation on these four questions:

1)  Is that is China? No, it’s off the tip of Malaysia but most of the country is ethnically Chinese so half a gold star.

2)  Why? Most people thought we were kind of crazy for completely uprooting our lives and moving across the world, especially since I’d never even been to Singapore. Okay, so it actually does sound kind of crazy but YOLO, right? Ew, that’s so 8 months ago, so I’ll go with carpe diem instead.

3)  You can’t chew gum there right? This is true. No gum allowed!

4)  Isn’t that where those American guys got caned for spraying graffiti? Yes, yes it is.

The Singapore government likes to keep things both safe and clean and they succeed at both. I walk around at 3 a.m. by myself with no fear. So anyway, when I discover graffiti in Singapore, I’m intrigued. Here are a few examples (apologies for the bad language; I swear I did not graffiti it!).


This one’s so elaborate I can’t help but wonder if it was commissioned and therefore not true graffiti.Image

That is NOT AT ALL a Singaporean way of thinking!  School is life in Singapore and test scores are everything.Image.

I’ll share more as I find it!

10 thoughts on “Graffiti hunting in Singapore, land of the Merlion

  1. Joseph Nebus

    When I did work in Singapore for a couple years I watched for graffiti. The first that I noticed which was really, properly graffiti, as opposed to something scrawled in a bathroom stall (which I guess counts, but just is so private and so obviously easy to get away with that it hardly seems to matter) was spray-painted on a steel girted at a construction site. What was written was, “I LOVE SINGAPORE”. I’ve regretted to this day that I didn’t have a camera. I like to think the graffiti artist was daring someone to arrest him.


      1. Heather M.

        Love the no spitting thing. I can’t stand to see people spit on the sidewalk, it’s so disgusting. Do a lot of people speak English in Singapore? I obviously know nothing about the place.


      2. sjoycarlson Post author

        Most people speak some manner of it. Locals speak a mix of English, Malay, Hokkien Teochew, Cantonese, and Tamlin called Singlish. A lot can speak proper English as well. It’s interesting, I have Singaporean friends who speak with a near-flawless Queen’s English accent. Anyway, you can definitely get by perfectly fine speaking English. There’s also a lot of Westerners all over the place as well.


  2. Daiso

    The first image was at rail corridor , the piece in it is by Cloak from Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia). All the pieces in that Image were painted for Meeting of Styles Singapore. Meeting of Styles is an international event that is hosted by different countries all over the world to bring graffiti writers together to collaborate, learn and meet each other. We had writers from Germany, Brunei, Malaysia and Australia. Sadly that space has been closed down to writers and artists, as the government is redeveloping it. The current spaces allocated for graffiti writers and artists are Somerset Skatepark, Scape, Goodman Arts Centre, Aliwal Arts Centre and our very own writers bench The Blackbook Studio. Hope you have enjoyed your stay here in Singapore.


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