Street art might not be a new art form, but with a number of artists turning their backs on traditional and conventional gallery spaces, more and more people are looking to the streets as a space where they can express their creativity and find a canvas that allows freedom, excitement and a break from the restrictive norms of the art world. You probably already know about some of the more famous names in street art – we’re looking at you, Banksy – but what about the lesser-known artists pushing the medium forwards? We’ve put together our list of five talented, clever and innovative street artists we think you really need to know about.
The beauty of creating your art in the outside world is that you have no restrictions about what your canvas can be. Italian street artist Mr Thoms understands this, and he even allows his canvas to shape his work, creating bright, clever and often funny murals that use the landscape as an integral part of the finished piece.
When you think of street art, it’s easy to associate the term solely with painted graffiti – after all, it is easily the most popular and common form. Aakash Nihalani is a street artist with an entirely different approach, using brightly coloured tape and board as the foundation for creating geometric shapes that seem to be popping out from the walls, resulting in a 3D effect that’s as mind-bending as it is innovative.
Keeping with the theme of looking at things differently, Isaac Cordal is an artist who believes that thought-provoking art shouldn’t be limited to galleries and museums. Part sculpture and part installation, Cordal’s work uses the urban landscape, miniature models and everyday objects to create (often bleak) statements about the modern world.
Here’s one you can show people when they tell you that street art doesn’t require talent. UK maestro Phlegm paints incredibly detailed monochrome murals that require skill, patience and creativity. His work doesn’t just look pretty either; the Brothers Grimm-style characters in each of his pieces convey an ominous tone and offer a level of complexity that demands viewers take a closer look.
STEPHEN POWERS / ESPO
Stephen Powers – formerly working under the name ESPO – is a street artist who manages to appeal to everyone. Over his 20 year career he’s combined elements of clean graphic design, gorgeous typography and charming, sentimental ideas, leaving him with a catalogue of work which truly stands out from the crowd. His recent ‘A Love Letter for You’ project involved Powers and a team of local artists creating a series of rooftop murals expressing love from one person to another and from residents to their neighbourhoods. Lovely.