No longer is street art performed under the cloak of darkness, spray paint in hand, by talented artists whose work isn’t just revolutionary, it’s downright illegal. These days, cities commission street artists to brighten up buildings and parks with their creations and the result, the official crosswalk of art and public space, is mind-blowingly incredible.
But please, don’t just hit that follow button on the below list of 10 pavement prodigies, check ’em out in a city near or far. Because street artists are everywhere, and with Instagram accounts as their modern-day museums, the world their canvas, these innovators are painting messages of hope, despair, love and loss across every corner of our globe … and all the hidden spots in between.
In no particular order:
1. @NoseGo – Philadelphia-based artist Yis Goodwin (NoseGo) creates work that’s a touch whimsical, a touch diabolical but always outrageous in the best possible way. His style is a twist of fine art and contemporary; and it’s got color and energy for days. Check it …
2. @WRDSMTH – Words can hardly express my love for WRDSMTH. Described recently as a “modern-day, spray can-wielding Robert Frost,” his art is at once inspirational, unrequited and expectant. Love is cruel but oh so delicious, might be one reoccurring theme of the screenwriter-turned-artist’s pieces, sentences scattered in cities from L.A. to London (though he calls Los Angeles home). Sweet, sad, yearning … WRDSMTH’s messages, completed in simplistic type and style, eclipse the very artform that can hardly contain them, lingering long after your feet have left the street.
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It's been one month to the day and I still can't shake this feeling of disbelief to the point of being angry. I figure if I feel this way, others do too. So I decided to express the emotion with words — not mine, his . . . This piece is located at the now closed House of Blues on the Sunset Strip where, on May 25th 2011, amid his 21-night concert residency in Los Angeles, Prince played three surprise shows in one night — first in the main concert hall, then in the Jazz Café at the Porch Restaurant, and finally a private charity event at the Foundation Room. Prince Rogers Nelson 1958-2016 #WRDSMTH
3. @JR – You know you’ve made it when The Louvre commissions your work to sit steps beyond its hallowed doors. Such is the fate of French street artist JR, whose socially conscious pieces live somewhere in the juxtaposition of “Art and Act.” Originally intentioned to create for those unlikely to step inside a museum, JR has since completed the ultimate coup d’état, now featured right outside one of the most famous museums on the planet. If this isn’t evidence street art is an established genre then buy me a Nutella-stuffed crepe made on the corner of a Parisian sidewalk and call me crazy.
4. @tomokazumatsuyama – Simple, clean, modern and evocative of his Japanese heritage, Tomokazu Matsuyama’s art both exalts contemporary style while mocking the overindulgent popular culture that so heavily influences it. You can discern a subtle braiding of biculturalism in his pieces (the Takayama, Gifu, Japan-born artist now resides in the hipster nerve center known as Brooklyn) and the result is pure street art magic.
5. @samagram12 – Sam Flores’ art is a profusion of bright paint and luminosity, though crafted with a well-edited hand. “Lush and meticulous,” as described on his website, Sam’s style is singular and distinct. View the creations of this San Francisco-based artist everywhere from the Hotel d’es Artes in the French Quarter of San Francisco to the Denver International Airport, as part of the travel hub’s Arts and Culture program.
6. @anthonylister – “The mess is the message,” says the Australian native known worldwide as simply Lister (or as Brisbane’s Banksy). His art is controversial and provocative; it’s meant to stir the emotions and the mind, and does so with unprecedented visual aplomb. According to Complex magazine, he’s one of the most influential street artists of all time. But hey, don’t call him an artist. One more reason to love Lister? He labels himself an “adventure painter.” Yaaaas, Lister, yaaas.
7. @phlegm_art – If Alice in Wonderland‘s Mad Hatter met the embodiment of Orwellian philosophy then called up Stephen King’s characteristic gore to hang you’d get something close to what the artistic enigma known as Phlegm creates. A quick browse of his personal blog (an awesomely sparse Blogger site) reveals Phelgm’s sojourns to install his art, as well as his rejection of grammatical conventions—like capitalization—but so what? When you’re this talented you’re meant to defy conventionality at every turn.
8. @osgemeos – Brazilian twins Gustavo and Otavio Pandolfo have been credited with introducing the world to traditional pixação art but I think the dopest thing about their work has to be the bold influences of hip hop, which emerged in Brazilian culture during the 80s, just as the two were evolving and developing a style all their own.
9. @hankysnyc – Hanksy’s art extends far beyond the street … to the cereal boxes and abandoned, old stoves of NYC. His not-so-subtle wink at the absurdities of modern life will make you laugh at such bold-faced ridiculousness while also acknowledging the vapidity and selfishness of today’s “look at me” culture. Yikes and yay.
10. @beaustanton – Art is knowledge is art. And Beau Stanton—former student at Laguna College of Art and Design in California and now, Red Hook, Brooklyn-dweller—is crazy smart. He describes his aesthetic as “heavily informed by historic ornamentation, religious iconography, and classical painting.” Even at first glance, you can easily sense the richness in his technique and the meticulousness of his designs. Plus, he’s had his creations featured on the Berlin Wall and a 12th-century crypt, so yeah, he’s doing pretty OK.