Street art is often considered a form of vandalism rather than what it actually is – an unconventional form of art.
Many artists lose themselves in a sea of canvases and a certain group of people ready to buy or view their art. Street artists use the entire world as their canvas and are not afraid of what others may think about their work.
This being said, here are 10 great street artists you should know about and some of their works. If you happen to live in a city where these works have been created, I invite you to go on a stroll around town and try to find as many graffiti art pieces by the named artist as you can.
Above chose to have his identity concealed but he uses two signature trademarks to make people aware of his work. He began spray painting his nickname – Above on trains in 1995 and that was his first signature but because the train was moving, the word was difficult to spot so he decided to make a different signature, more noticeable. This is how his signature arrow pointing “above” appeared. Above also underwent on an international tour and you can find his works in countries like England, Portugal, France, USA and more.
2. Andre Charles
Andre Charles had the name “Zone” as his alias during the 80s but he never concealed his true identity. He began by painting graffiti on trains and walls of the Bronx but the point that made him stand out was when he started creating memorials on the walls of his neighbors and friends. After people noticed his work, he started being commissioned for it.
3. Tim Conlon
Tim Conlon was the first street artist who had his work presented in the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. His style includes painting large murals and also working on canvas. Most of Conlon’s work can be found on the streets of Washington D.C. and in public art projects.
4. Darryl McCray
Darryl McCray also known as Cornbread is what some may call the father of modern graffiti. He was the first one who, during the 60s, started tagging Philadelphia by painting his nickname on walls. After that, a couple of friends followed him until the art movement began spreading throughout the US and then to Europe. The Mural Arts Program is the largest public art program in the US and McCray helped it become what it is today.
5. Ron English
Ron English is one of the most famous and prolific artists of our time and has art featured in books, movies and television series alongside walls and streets. The term POPaganda was assigned to his artwork and describes the high and low cultural touches present in his works. “Abraham Obama” is his most famous street artwork and it features a mix up between the portrait of Abraham Lincoln and the one of Barack Obama.
6. Mark Machado
Mark Machado is Mr. Cartoon or simply Cartoon and he is not only a street but also a tattoo artist. He began his work when he was only 8 years old and had his first paid art job by the age of 12. Machado’s graffiti work has been used by Toyota, Nike and T-Mobile to name a few and he has tattooed the bodies of many celebrities such as 50 Cent, Beyonce, Bow Wow, Prodigy and more.
7. Agata Oleksiak
Crocheted Olek is an artist who as the name suggests, uses crocheted patterns to beautify streets, inflatables and fiber art. Oleksiak’s most noticeable work is a room where everything (including the people) is covered in crocheting. You can find her work all around the world in countries such as the UK, Poland, the US or Germany.
8. Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada
Jorge Rodriguez-Gerada is the founding member of the Culture Jamming movement in New York with which he started using his signature artwork on public advertising and billboards. Since 2009, he has been managing the AvantGuard Urbano Festival, held in Northern Spain.
9. Caledonia Dance Curry
Curry can also be found under the nickname Swoon and her art can be noticed on abandoned buildings all around the world. Curry’s street work features a vast collection of portraits and she uses a wheat paste method to set up her work. Swoon began her work as a street artist when she was studying painting at the Pratt Institute and decided that her art would be seen by everyone, not only by a group of people who can actually afford buying art.
10. Brad Downey
Brad Downey has appeared in the street art documentary film, Public Discourse alongside other work pieces by other street artists. In 2008, Downey was almost charged with vandalism after he spray painted the windows of KaDeWe mall, green. However, he claimed he did it to fulfill a contract he had with Lacoste. Up until today, the movement is considered a publicity stunt by Lacoste.
Do you know any other street artists or street works worth mentioning?