Vibrant street art decorates buildings all around the world. Though urban graffiti may be the first type that you think of, street art actually comes in loads of different forms, from sculptures to 'yarn bombing' – and it's found in a diverse range of environments.
Here, we've gathered together the work of our favourite street artists, spanning talent you already know and relative unknowns you'll want to know. Artists' motivation ranges from simply brightening up their neighbourhoods to making political statements. But whatever their aims may be, the art that's been produced is inspirational.
If you're feeling inspired, check out our roundup of top graffiti fonts and use the influence of street art in your own designs.
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01. Scott Nagy
Painted in New South Wales by colour enthusiast and environmentalist Scott Nagy, this mesmerising piece captures the wonder of nature, with the girl captivated by the creatures surrounding her – so much so that she becomes part of the scene. The more you look at it, the more there is to see, with the colour palette drawing you in.
02. STAY SAFE
Self-taught artist Rasmus Balstrøm painted this as "a quick Corona burner" when in LA this year (he is from Copenhagen). With a message to stay safe, he said "what a pleasure to finally paint before we have to flee the country" on his Instagram.
Koh Hooi San (Caryn Koh) is a Malaysian artist, who used to work in the medical field. According to the aritst, this piece, Connections, is about "the attachments we have and the new ones we build". We love how the figure of the woman is painted across the containers, connecting them together.
4. Banksy's bathroom art
Okay, we know this isn't on the street exactly. Banksy may have created astonishing pieces around the world, but one of our favourites came this year during lockdown. With a caption of "my wife hates it when I work from home", Bansky posted this piece from his bathroom – making us smile at a time when the streets seemed a world away, and showing the world you don't have to leave home to get super-creative with street art. Though we're pretty glad we don't have to use that bathroom, tbh.
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.
06. 16th Avenue Tiled Steps
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.
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 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.
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.
10. 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.
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.
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.
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.
14. Mario Celedon
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.
15. Ernest Zacharevic
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.
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.
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 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.
19. MVM Graphics
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."
20. Mademoiselle Maurice
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.
21. Herbert Baglione
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