Graffiti and street art artists around the world

Graffiti around the world as we know it these days originated in the nineteen-sixties. But the phenomenon of drawings on walls and buildings is at least thousands of years old. It is still debatable whether stencil art is graffiti, some people think it is, most of the community of graffiti artists don’t. Art is in the eye of the beholder and any expression of self is art in our opinion.

Find the legal hotspots for graffiti in Amsterdam in this article!

Because we do it for the artists, let’s take a look at the street art kings

Graffiti is not only something for the graffiti scene, it is located in the public space and therefore accessible to everyone. The unsuspecting passerby however probably pays little attention to the tags and pieces in cities. It contributes to the urban appearance. We think graffiti makes the world more beautiful. Take a look at some of the top artists around the world. We listed them from the humor of Mobstr to the politically engaged Blek le Rat.

Note: If we missed a source please ask either to remove it or to add the source. As said above: we do it for the artists and will expand this list by artist who still could use a little bit of exposure. Please see our contact page or email us.

Blek Le Rat

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Blek le Rat may be one of the first stencil artists in the world and is sometimes called “the father of the stencil graffiti”. What is special about him is that he does not hide his identify. Blek le Rat was born in Paris in 1952 as Xavier Prou. He’s quite popular not only because of his unique works but also because of his pace of working.

The name Blek le Rat is derived from the popular French cartoon caracter Blek le Roc. Roc was replaced by Rat: the artist provided pictures of rats throughout the city of Paris. According to Blek the rat is the only free animal in Paris and rats spread the plague just like streetart is spread through the city.

Does he makes you think of someone? Let’s go to the next artist…

Banksy

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Why did we put Banksy as second? Simply because Banksy might be the king of the commercialization of graffiti (stencils?), although he does not want it. The British artist works with so-called stencils, in which the art is made in advance and can then be easily and quickly applied to a wall. He is the godfather of a new form of pop art that originated on the street. He used a basis that consists of powerful messages that he spreads through street art. Everyone can grasp Banksy’s stencil art. This ensures that he has a large reach and can make strong statements. The city does not have the power to change all of his works. But even if his art is destroyed, it draws attention to the underlined political issues. He is inspired by the stars in the game of street art and classical artists (does it makes you think of someone?).

If we were to cooperate with the individual works of Banksy, this list would be full of his work, so we stick to one listing for all his work together. Banksy, whose real identity is still unknown (nobody ever saw Banksy his face), is known for his critical works of art that often respond to political decisions, social developments and current events. Recently Banksy hit the news hard with his shredded art.

Obey: Shepard Fairey

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Obey is a work by artist Shepard Fairey. Fairey is an American contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator and founder of the OBEY clothing brand. The line varies from hoodies to T-shirts to hats. Fairey gained momentum with the Barack Obama “hope” poster and was the icon of the 2008 presidential campaign. He started his career by making drawings on skateboards which led him to draw on clothes and he developed one of the largest brands in the world. He didn’t use stencils at that time and did everything off-the-cuff. Many of his works are recorded on camera during exhibitions and shows just as Fairey himself can be seen on screen quite often.

Blu

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Another someone who rather conceals his real identity? We got you. Blu is the pseudonym of an Italian Graffiti artist. At the beginning of his career he worked together with other artists such as Ericailcane. They worked at different pieces and complemented each other. With his pieces and murals Blu expressed his political views on capitalism, globalisation and human rights. His artwork can be seen all over the world.

Sérgio Odeith

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We’ve got something special for you. His work (mostly graffiti) has been showcased all over the world: the Museum of Public Art in Louisiana, the Brazilian Museum for Sculpture in Sao Paulo and Meeting of Styles in Germany. Odeith was born in Portugal in 1976. He dropped out of school at the age of 15. At first he developed masterpieces under the name of “Eith” which later became “Odeith“. A lot of his art is painted on flat walls with a 90 degree angle to ensure the optimal visual for the 3D effect.

Axel Void

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Axel Void was born as Alejandro Hugo Dorda Mevs in Miami in 1986; he has a Haitian mother and a Spanish father. He was raised in Spain from the age of three where he was strongly influenced by classical painting and drawing. He has been in contact with graffiti writing since 1999. Void studied Fine Arts in Cádiz, Granada and Sevilla and based himself in Berlin until moving to Miami in 2013 where he currently resides. One of his best know works is “Nada” which shows a refugee in a freight train in Mexico that was attacked by local criminals.

M-City

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Graffiti artist M-City works in the centre of Istanbul and his work is characterized by using highly contrasting images, usually in black and white. M-City was born as Mariusz Wars in the late 70s in Gdynia. The work in the picture above is called “Utopia”. It is about police cars in order to reflect the lack of confidence in the Turkish authorities at the moment.

Arm of the king of Cambodia

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When you offend the king even just a little in Thailand, you end up in jail. But this is no problem in Cambodia. There he is seen as lazy, doing nothing against corruption in the country which causes disproportionately high prices for food. The work in the above picture is located at a former palace of the Cambodian king that is abandonded nowadays. The crazy man is the king, the long arm symbolizes his influence. The artist is unknown, if you know who he is please let us know!

Mobstr

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Saved by graffiti artist Mobstr is a special case. It’s the process and not the graffiti itself that has earned him a lot of fame. It all started with Mobstr simply writing “red” on a wall that was partly red. The graffiti was removed by the authorities after which Mobstr put “red” on the wall again. It was the beginning of a kind of fight between Mobstr and the authorities. You can see the final result below but it’s definitely more fun to watch the Youtube video.

Smug

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Smug is an artist whose, just like with Banksy, you can’t just pick one work. This graffiti artist is known for his hyper-realistic works, for which he is of course invited by authorities. Although it is a completely different approach than, for example, Banksy, Smug’s works are also immensely popular. You can see how realistic his works are in the image above.

Hopefully you liked our start for the graffiti around the world. Want to know more about us?

In the meantime read one of the articles below: