From the constant noise pollution to the actual pollution, let’s face it –sometimes the bright lights, big city lifestyle can be a little overwhelming. Luckily, street artists have come to the rescue.
What was once looked on as vandalism (and, OK, maybe still is, legally) has now become a well-respected art and, in some ways, an off-the-beaten path career that’s celebrated by artists, designers and city-dwellers the world over.
In today’s Design9, we’re taking a look at our favorite street artists around the globe. Whether it’s a surreal wall muralist in Tehran or a New Yorker injecting happiness into his fellow city-dwellers’ lives, we’ve found nine inspiring street artists that will make you pause and take a second look at that mural around the corner. Maybe city life isn’t so bad after all.
1. Shepard Fairey, Los Angeles
While street art aficionados have known Fairey’s work for some time (he first became known for “Andre the Giant Has a Posse“), Shepard reached global stardom thanks to the Barack Obama “Hope” poster that was used in the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. Yep, that was him. Since, Fairey has been called one of today’s best-known and influential street artists by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. He more recently revealed a Joan Jett mural in Austin, Texas, just in time for South by Southwest 2014.
2. The Mazeking, New York
New Yorkers are a busy bunch, that’s for sure, but this sidewalk artist is reminding them of what’s really important: happiness. The Mazeking uses the simple, almost innocent medium of chalk to construct “Happiness Circles” around NYC – literally sidewalk-drawn circles and squares with the words “Happiness Here” written inside. This combination of street art with “aw, shucks” optimism leaves us feeling happy just thinking about it. Mission accomplished.
3. Christopher Derek Bruno, Atlanta
Atlanta-based Christopher Derek Bruno was trained in industrial design – a fact that quickly becomes clear after you take one look at his angular, geometric wall murals. Christopher claims to “use a set of 0-dimensional points bound by 1-dimensional lines … to make 2-d planes, organized into 3-d forms … with the express purpose of creating a 4-dimensional relationship with the observer.” Not sure what we’re talking about? Check out his 3-D, colorful work here and all will be revealed.
4. TELLAS, Italy
While there’s nothing wrong with a standard wall mural (really, we’re big fans), Italian artist TELLAS takes the street art approach a step further by incorporating his surroundings into the art itself. TELLAS’ simple, oversized shapes combine with surrounding architecture and natural fixtures make for a statement that’s anything but basic.
5. 2:12, Houston
With a mission to bring attention to neglected city corners through street art, 2:12 is taking Houston by storm with his bold, figure-focused portraits. See something you like? His works for both galleries and private sales often mimic what’s seen on the street. Be sure to get in touch for more details.
6. Mehdi Ghadyanloo, Tehran, Iran
If the street art world had a modern-day Dali, it would be Mehdi Ghadyanloo. This Iranian artist’s vivid, surreal street art is now covering over 100 of Tehran’s walls, beautifying the city and giving its inhabitants something to ponder on their way home from work.
7. Alexandre Farto aka VHILS, Portugal
Never have we seen a street artist work with so many media in so many inspiring ways: from wood to paper, cork to Styrofoam, metal to explosives (you read that right), Portuguese artist Alexandre Farto (aka VHILS) really does it all.
8. MOMO, New Orleans
Though he now calls New Orleans home, MOMO has lived in and worked his artistic magic on cities around the U.S. MOMO’s signature style is easy to spot –his simple lines and bold color choices are led by masonry techniques.
9. Ever, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Naming fine artists like Gustav Klimt as influences, street artist Ever is known for his colorful, painterly style. With a focus on figures and the occasional animal, Ever’s work is so interesting and visually complex that you’ll be inspired to stop and stare.
BONUS: Living Walls ATL, Atlanta
While not a singular street artist per se, we had to include Atlanta’s Living Walls project. Started by a Savannah College of Art and Design alum, Living Walls ATL is an organization that aims to both educate and change perspectives on public space through street art. We highly recommend you learn more about Living Walls, and their upcoming conference, here.
Spread the word about street art and let us know about your favorite artist in the comments below. Interested in more stories on innovative artists and designers? Be sure to sign up for our weekly design inspiration e-mails.