Street art adorns streets all around the world. Urban graffiti might be the first type that springs to mind, but street art actually comes in loads of different forms, from sculptures to 'yarn bombing', and is also found in a diverse range of environments.
We've gathered together the work of our favourite street artists for this article, from famous faces you already know to relative unknowns you'll want to know more about. Some just want to brighten up their neighbourhoods, while others have political statements to make. But whatever their motivation, we think what they've produced is pretty incredible.
If you're feeling inspired, check out our piece on graffiti fonts and use the influence of street art in your own designs.
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Sonora was painted on the Arizona/Mexico border to open a dialogue through art
Hazard, aka Harriet Ford, is a British street artist whose work is recognisable from its bold, peaceful depictions of women with detailed hair and headdresses.
Sonora (2017) was painted on a warehouse in the abandoned mining town of Ajo on the Arizona/Mexico border. This was part of a crowdfunded project, designed to create a dialogue through an arts residency in a significant place at a significant time. With a headdress decorated with wildlife from the Sonoran desert, the female character represents a peaceful Mexican lady.
The steps in San Francisco have a sea to sky theme
The 16th Avenue Tiled Steps is a community project completed in 2005. Inspired by the famous Selarón steps in Rio de Janeiro, the neighbourhood residents chose artists Aileen Barr and Collette Crutcher to collaborate in a design across 163 mosaic panels.
The steps have a sea to sky theme and the local residents sponsored handmade tiles in the shapes of the animals, fish and shells. Three mosaic workshops were held within the community so that everyone could assist in the creation of this stunning street art.
This work in New York’s lower east side translates to ‘Love thy neighbour’
Los Angeles-based artist Cryptik is notable for his calligraphic approach to street art. Much of his work is based on ancient sacred texts and eastern philosophy, with echoes of the intricate geometric patterns found in Muslim art and architecture. It's all rendered with an unmistakable street art twist, making for a perfect blend of ancient and modern. His aim is to help humanity evolve towards greater awareness and understanding.
This colourful David is painted directly onto the marble in an Italian quarry
This colourful portrait of David is the work of Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian street artist from the south side of São Paulo. The design is painted directly onto the marble at a quarry in Carrara, Italy, where Michelangelo and other artists found the marble used in their sculptures. Kobra has been a graffiti artist since he was a teenager, and in 2016 his mural for the Rio Olympics scored him a record for world's biggest mural – a record he's since broken.
This epic street art by D*Face’s covers the side of a Las Vegas hotel
London-based artist Dean Stockton (also known as D*Face) creates work inspired by things he loved as a child – skate graphics, album art and cartoons – and some of his work is clearly indebted to pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. One such example is Behind Closed Doors; and epic piece of street art found on the side of the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas. The design cleverly uses the shape of the building to give the mural an added sense of depth.
06. Reskate Studio
The Harreman Project, by Barcelona-based Reskate Studio, uses glow-in-the-dark paint to create street art with hidden depths. Each piece of artwork in the series shows one image during daylight hours, while another is revealed when it gets dark. "The intention is to try to light up dark corners of cities, both installing new lights and encouraging citizens to interact with the wall, painting with light on it," reads the description on the studio's website. This piece, Asombrar, was created for Fisart Romania in 2015.
Dulk’s street art is populated by surreal creatures
Antonio Segura Donat, or Dulk, grew up copying illustrations of exotic animals from his parents' old encyclopaedias, and used to take his sketchbook everywhere with him. Having studied illustration then graphic design, today he works as a multidisciplinary artist tackling drawing, painting, sculpture and advertising, but it's his large-scale street art, featuring surreal creatures in imaginary landscapes, that really stands out.
Upon the Sighting of New Rendering charts Mobstr’s ongoing battle with the authorities
Mobstr is a multi-talented street artist with a strong line in fake billboards, but it's his Progressions that we really love. Documented across a series of photos, he plays fantastic mind games with the poor souls whose job it is to clean graffiti off the streets, using little more than stencilled letters.
One of Smug’s Glaswegian pieces, gracing the city’s Castle Street
Glasgow-based street artist Smug specialises in photorealistic graffiti, and the Scottish city has become his infinite canvas thanks to a council-funded mural initiative. After picking up a spray painting can over a decade ago, the artist has developed a unique and mesmerising style – rendered entirely freehand. His meticulously detailed work can be seen transforming walls all over the UK and Europe, as well as Australia.
Artist Mario Celedon’s intricate paintings can be seen all over the city of Valparaiso
Culture capital of Chile, Valparaiso is the home of many a talented artist, including Mario Celedon. Best known for his incredible street art, Celedon's colourful and detailed paintings can be seen in various locations around the city, but our favourite artwork has got to be the intricate illustrations on these steps.
One of Zacharevic’s Georgetown pieces
Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic brings fine art techniques to the great outdoors. Exploring a multitude of mediums, from installation and sculpture to oil paint, stencils and spray paint, Zacharevic's experimentations remove the restriction of artistic boundaries.
Based out of Penang, Malaysia, the artist first grabbed global attention in 2012 after creating a series of murals for Georgetown Festival, resulting in the BBC dubbing him Malaysia’s answer to Banksy. Since then, his Georgetown murals have become cultural landmarks and his work can be seen from Singapore to LA.
One of Peeta’s 3D graffitti ‘sculptures’
Italian street artist Manuel Di Rita, who goes by the moniker Peeta, is known for his 3D graffiti. Using gradients of colour, his 2D street art gives off the impression of multiple dimensions, creating the illusion it is sculpture, rather than paint. On top of this, the artist creates actual graffiti-inspired street art sculptures.
Since he first started creating street art back in 1993, Peeta has travelled the globe, spending a lot of time in both Canada and the US. After gaining plenty of experience as a graffiti artist in Europe and America, he started painting canvases and now runs his own business selling canvases and sculptures.
Phlegm paints and places his illustrations all over the world
Sheffield-based Phlegm started out in self-published comics before bringing this detailed illustration style to the streets. The UK artist creates surreal, storybook-style imagery, working solely in monochrome. Each piece of street art forms part of a grand narrative that extends worldwide, from Canada to Australia.
MrDheo dedicates himself to photorealism, blended with graphic components
MrDheo has no formal artistic training, and it's this that he believes has helped him to develop his own techniques and evolve without direct influences. The Portuguese artist's bold, graphic style lends itself to graffiti art; the bigger the better. MrDheo's street art appears in over 30 international cities, and he has collaborated with a number of major brands and companies.
15. MVM Graphics
Moore W. Moore has been painting geometric murals for more than half his life
Boston based artist Matt W Moore – who runs MVM Graphics – has been painting on walls for over half his life. "It's a magical experience to actualise an idea extra-large in the public space," he smiles. "Lots to see in this section. Everything from my early years of graffiti and street-level art, to my more recent abstract murals. Indoor and outdoor, I've got you covered."
A flock of metal origami birds adorns this street art
This impressive piece of street art was created to mark the opening of the Urban Nation contemporary art museum in Berlin. It's the work of visual artist Mademoiselle Maurice, and features a flock of 3D birds brought to life in metal origami.
17. Herbert Baglione
An eerie creation for an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Parma, Italy
Herbert Baglione is a Brazilian street artist. One particularly striking project, entitled 1000 Shadows, saw him add his stamp to an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Parma, Italy. Balione created eerie shadows across the floors, walls and doors of the building, often interacting with abandoned wheelchairs for extra creepiness.
Next page: 15 more awesome examples of street art
18. Fallen 9000
This inspiring tribute to fallen soldiers only managed to last a few hours
To mark International Peace Day back in 2013, British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss accompanied by 60 volunteers and 500 local residents, took to the beaches of Normandy and etched 9000 fallen soldier silhouettes into the sand using rakes and stencils. The piece was washed away by the tide after only a few hours, but created a lasting impact.
DALeast’s 3D style is instantly recognisable
Born in China, DALeast has spread his distinctive 3D technique of street art across public spaces all over the world. The artist paints creatures that appear to have been wrought from twisted metal. His pieces are instantly recognisable and burst with energy.
Pez began painting in 1999 on the outskirts of Barcelona
Street artist Pez (Spanish for fish) started painting in 1999 on the outskirts of Barcelona. Wanting to find a way to communicate and spread good vibes to the people of the city, Pez decided that his signature mark would be a fish character with a huge smile.
Since then, the artist has gone on to gain international recognition, exhibiting his work all around the globe. The last few years has also seen him create several new characters, including demons, angels and Martians. All have one thing in common – a huge and infectious smile.
21. David de la Mano
Spanish artist David de la Mano creates amazing monochromatic street art
Spanish artist David de la Mano creates striking and often slightly unsettling street art based around silhouettes. This typically creepy piece is entitled Silent Sound.
Polish artist NeSpoon decorates Warsaw with beautifully intricate patterns
Although she also creates more traditional murals, Polish artist NeSpoon also creates street art that's a little different. Alongside paintings, NeSpoon also decorates buildings with cobweb-like doilies, and etches intricate designs into cement.
C215’s stencilled street art features the marginalised and vulnerable
Parisian artist Christian Guémy – also known as C215 – uses stencils to produce beautiful street art depicting vulnerable and marginalised groups of society including refugees, street children and the elderly. Since creating his first work over 20 years ago he's developed a huge following. His street art can be spotted in galleries, auctions and on streets all over the world, in cities including Barcelona and London.
24. Interesni Kazki
Ukranian duo Interesni Kazki create vibrant street art
Ukrainian duo AEC and Waone, aka Interesni Kazki, create bright and vibrant street art that references a variety of cultures and art forms including sci-fi, Mexican folk tales, religion and classical art. For the most part their surreal ideas are created with acrylic paint using rollers, although on some very small pieces of work they use spray cans.
Gaia creates surreal and colourful murals
New York-born, Baltimore-based street artist Gaia's incredible skills, combined with his strange compositions have gained him worldwide recognition. He's also keen to help others explore the street art medium, setting up festivals and group sessions to fill places like his town of Baltimore with new and exciting murals.
26. Julian Beever
Julian Beever creates whole 3D worlds with just a pavement and some chalk
There's nothing quite like walking along your local high street and coming across a whole new, 3D world – completely made of chalk. Many other chalk artists could have featured in this list, but it's Julian Beever's playful approach to the medium that has us in awe.
The British artist started out as a busker, before attracting commercial commissions in the mid 2000s. He even made a 10-part TV series and released a book, Pavement Chalk Artist, in 2011.
27. See No Evil
For two consecutive summers, Bristol – home of Banksy and centre of a vigorous street art scene – played host to one of the biggest celebrations of street art Europe has ever seen.
Organised by legendary street artist Inkie and Team Love, it was See No Evil's mission to transform one of city's most deprived stretches of road into a work of art. Nelson Street, located in Bristol's city centre was a dreary, grey walkway. Artists from around the world, including New York's Tats Cru and LA's El Mac descended upon the city to bring it to life.
Slinkachu’s Little People Project combines street art and photography
Using characters from model train sets, Slinkachu's Little People Project is a mixture of street art and photography. If you've had the pleasure of stumbling upon one of his odd little creations, you'll appreciate his humour and childlike imagination.
Slinkachu says that the titles he gives to each scene, "aims to reflect the loneliness and melancholy of living in a big city, almost being lost and overwhelmed". However, he is quick to add that "underneath this, there is always some humour".
As you'll already have gathered, not all street art involves the use of spray paint. This video from Joshua Allen Harris shows just what can be created with a few household items.
Now primarily a photographer, back in 2008 Harris caused a stir with his Inflatable Bag Monster project. The artist created creatures using disregarded plastic bags and attached them to subway grates around New York, ready to be inflated into life by gusts of air from passing trains. Some of the pieces had an environmental angle, such as the plastic polar bear, which deflated to its death to offer a strong message about global warming and the effects it continues to have on the world we live in.
Banksy’s stencils often tackle political issues – this work in Paris comments on the treatment of refugees
The best-known street artist across the world, Banksy's challenging, contrary and thought-provoking, stencil-based art has made a huge impact on both high and low culture. In recent years he's branched out with more ambitious projects including a hotel in Bethlehem and a theme park in Weston-Super-Mare, but his politically charged stencil artwork continues to make an stir wherever it appears.
Hailing from Bristol, UK, the artist keeps his identity a secret. Some claim he has a team of people working on each creation while others believe he still works alone. Whatever the case, his art remains as impactful as ever.
31. Pavel Puhov
Puhov is sometimes called the ‘Russian Banksy’
Known as the 'Russian Banksy', street artist Pavel Puhov (aka Pavel 183 or P-183), has been cooking up a political storm in his native country for over a decade. Like Banksy, the artist's identity is unknown, adding to the mystique surrounding him.
The Moscow-based graffiti artist's creations often have a strong political stance. Some have included paintings of riot police, civilian protesters and even a reimagined painting of National Geographic's infamous Afghan girl photo. Placing his art in very public locations, such as subway doors, makes certain that it's not ignored.
32. Jan Vormann
Jan Vormann ‘repairs’ old buildings with brightly coloured blocks
A German native, Jan Vormann spent three years travelling the world, 'repairing' crumbling and disregarded buildings with his brightly coloured version of Polyfilla. The venture had humble beginnings, starting out in a small art fair in Rome before moving onto bigger ventures. He has even filled the holes of buildings in Berlin that had been damaged by guns during the second World War.
Next page: 13 more awesome examples of street art
EVOL transforms street furniture into mini-buildings
For his Buildings project, street artist EVOL transformed street furniture into miniature high-rise blocks, complete with graffiti and er, monsters. The German artist exhibits his work in warehouses as well as local streets for all to enjoy. The intricate detail of each piece is incredibly realistic, and it's great to see something boring and functional turned into something that will put a smile on people's faces.
Guerrilla Crochet has made crochet cool once more
It's official – crochet is not just for grannies. Guerrilla crochet (or, in the UK, 'yarn bombing') has been causing a storm in recent years, with renegade street artists enveloping everyday street furniture in brightly coloured woolly loveliness. One of the most prolific crochet street artists is Agata Oleksiak (aka Olek), who has covered everything from the Wall Street bull to London taxis.
35. Isaac Cordal
Issac Cordal’s work exudes a strong sense of personal injustice
Like Slinkachu, Spanish artist Issac Cordal likes to work with little figures. Unlike the former, however, Cordal tends to take a more melancholy approach. Most of his street art represent the everyday businessman and their struggles to deal with the mundanity of everyday life.
Ronzo’s bird sculptures liven up mundane surroundings
Independent artist Ronzo describes himself as 'Vandal Extraordinaire'. On his site he claims that he exists because "this fragile Earth deserves a voice". We're not quite sure what he means by that, but we like it.
The artist's 2012 Birdz project saw colourful bird sculptures popping up on London's Brick Lane as well as council estates, along with a graffiti mural of the 'Olympic Bird' and a a 'Credit Crunch Monster' placed on a building overlooking The Old Truman Brewery.
37. Vj Suave
Vj Suave is a collaboration between artists Ygor Marotta, hailing from Brazil, and Cecilia Soloaga, from Argentina. The duo create live visual performances using a mixture of character illustration, animation and projection. The video shows a series of intricate designs and colourful characters coming to life and walking the streets. A truly unique street art event.
Guerrilla Gardeners are on a mission to make our streets a greener place
This project saw sneaky gardeners making it their mission to turn our streets a greener place. The team behind Guerrilla Gardening became a global hub, with planting taking place in cities from London to Beirut. The collective carried out their work during the night.
39. Kello Goeller
Kello Goeller brought pixel art to the streets of New York
Kello Goeller took pixel art into a new dimension in this awesome sculpture. The piece, entitled Pixel Pour 2.0, was created from wood and latex, and could be found on Mercer Street in New York. Goeller is a multidisciplinary performance artist, and can currently be found crafting 'dreamscapes' in Portland.
French artist Invader completes his 8-bit art behind a mask
French UFA ('unidentified free artist') Invader has been invading cities across the world with his perfect pixelated artwork for years. He always completes his artwork behind a mask, so as to not give away his identity. This project, entitled Space Invaders, is inspired by first-generation arcade games. The characters are made out of tiles cemented onto walls, and Invader has set up a scoring system for them, with each character rating between 10 and 50, depending on its size.
Popsilos brings an artistic twist to the ugliest of structures
Peter Gibson, aka Roadsworth, started his street art journey painting the streets of Montrealo. Initially motivated by a desire for more cycle paths in the city and a questioning of the world's 'car culture' in general, the artist then moved on to urban landscapes and bigger, more ambitious projects – including the above Popsilos project. In 2004, Roadsworth was arrested and charged with 53 counts of mischief. Despite the heavy fines, he continued his street art quest.
42. Miina Akkijyrkka
Miina Äkkijyrkkä turns used vehicles into animal sculptures
Finnish sculptor Miina Akkijyrkka has a thing for cows. She scours her native country for used vehicles and turns them into these huge animal sculptures. The artist has been working her magic for an impressive 50 years.
Part of an initiative that uses art to campaign for environmental issues
Alexandre Farto, who works under the moniker Vhils, is a street artist hailing from Portugal. He has gained renown for his murals, created using a bas-relief carving technique that involves cutting either directly into walls or removing layers of advertising posters.
The above artwork, located in Sumatra, Indonesia, aims to raise awareness about a new species of orangutan that has already become endangered due to unregulated palm oil farming and irresponsible construction in its natural habitat. This piece is part of Splash and Burn – an initiative that uses art as a way to draw attention to environmental issues.
44. The Glue Society
Grab a giant spoon, quick!
It's so hot on Tamarara beach in Australia that this ice cream truck has melted! OK, you got us, it's actually a brilliant street art sculpture created by artists at The Glue Society. The installation, entitled Hot With The Chance of Late Storm, was displayed on the beach during the opening of the 10th annual Sculpture By The Sea exhibition back in 2006.
Artist JR has been dubbed the ‘French Banksy’
French photographer and artist JR's political street art began during the Paris riots of 2005. Angered by the way the areas involved were being presented in the media, he took photos of the residents pulling funny faces and flyposted them around the city.
His passion-filled, often didactic artwork has since appeared in deprived areas across the world, from the suburbs of Paris to the shantytowns of Rio. He's also been arrested in China, and in 2011 was awarded the TED prize, worth $100,000.
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