Street art is rife across the globe. Although the term is often associated with urban spray paint art, it comes in all shapes and forms, from sculptures to 'yarn bombing', and it has inspired everything from graffiti font families to window displays and beyond.
In this article, we've gathered together the work of our favourite inspirational street artists, featuring some well-known faces, as well as some you may not have heard of – but will want to hear more about. Some just want to brighten up their neighbourhoods, while others have political points to make. But whatever their motivation, we think what they've produced is simply incredible!
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, along 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, created with the aim of helping humanity evolve towards greater awareness and understanding.
Painted directly onto the marble at a quarry in Carrara, Italy, where Michelangelo and other artists found the marble used in their works, this colourful portrait of David is the work of Eduardo Kobra, a Brazilian street artist from the south side of São Paulo. Kobra's been a graffiti artist since he was a teenager, and in 2016 scored a world record for his mural created for the Rio Olympics; a record he's since broken.
London-based Dface's work draws on things he was inspired by in childhood - skate graphics, album art and cartoons - and some of his work is clearly indebted to pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. Dface's most recent work is a stunning Lichtenstein-inspired piece on an epic scale; 'Behind Closed Doors' is painted on the side of the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas, and cleverly uses the shape of the building to give it an added sense of depth.
04. Reskate Studio
The Harreman Project, by Barcelona-based Reskate Studio, uses reminiscence, the etymology of language and a touch of irony, plus plenty of photosluminescent paint, to create artwork that changes depending on the light and allows for multiple readings of the same work. 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 an all-purpose artist tackling drawing, painting, sculpture and advertising, but it's his large-scale street art, featuring surreal creatures in imaginary landscapes, that really grabs the attention.
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 photo-realistic graffiti, with the Scottish city 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 mesmorising style – rendered entirely freehand. His meticulously detailed work can be seen transforming walls all over the UK and Europe, and even as far away as Australia.
08. 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 places around the city, but our favourite artwork has got to be the intricate illustrations on these steps.
Lithuanian-born artist, Ernest Zacharevic, brings fine art technique to the great outdoors. Using a multitude of disciplines from installations and sculptures to oil painting, 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, 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.
Beginning back in 1993, the artist 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, Peeta started painting canvases and now runs his own business selling canvases and sculptures.
His name, taken from Green medicine, was believed to be responsible for an apathetic and unemotional temperament but his art evokes anything but. Sheffield-based UK artist, Phlegm, started out in self-published comics, bringing this detailed illustration style to the streets.
Creating surreal, storybook imagery, the artist works soley in monochrome and each piece forms part of a grand narrative that extends worldwide, from Canada to Australia.
12. Mr Dheo
Rejecting any formal training, Mr Dheo believes this helped him to develop his own techniques, which enabled him to evolve without direct influences.
The Portuguese artist's bold, graphic style lends itself to graffiti art, the bigger the better and his art has featured in over 30 international cities, collaborating with major brands, and companies, he views the street as the best place to create.
13. Matt W Moore
Boston based artist Matt W Moore has been painting on walls for over half his life and this is just some of his incredible work. "It's a magical experience to actualise an idea extra-large in the public space," he beams. "Lots to see in this section. Everything from my early years of graffiti and street-level art, to my more recent abstract murals. Indoor & outdoor, I've got you covered."
As part of the 2013 ARTAQ Festival in Angers, France, French artist Mademoiselle Maurice, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, folded 30,000 pieces of origami to create these two awe-inspiring street art installations.
Mademoiselle Maurice's work is renowned for its creative, colourful approach and that's certainly the case with this installation. The playfulness of this project is what makes it unique.
15. Herbert Baglione
For his latest project, Brazilian street artist Herbert Baglione has been painting on the walls, floors, and ceilings of empty rooms and outside deserted homes in São Paulo and Paris, and now '1000 Shadows' sees him tackle an abandoned psychiatric hospital in Parma, Italy.
Creating eerie shadows across the floors, walls and doors, this is a project that would certainly make your hair stand on end. Adding old, dusty wheelchairs and teamed with the crumbling walls, '1000 Shadows' certainly makes an impact.
16. Fallen soldiers
To mark International Peace Day, British artists Jamie Wardley and Andy Moss accompanied by 60 volunteers and 500 local residents, took to the beaches of Normandy and etched 9,000 fallen soldier silhouettes into the sand using rakes and stencils. The piece lasted only a few hours before being washed away by the tide but that doesn't make it any less inspiring.
Born in China, artist DALeast has spread his distinctive 3D technique of street art across public spaces all over the world. One of the most exciting talents to come out of the emerging Chinese urban art scene, DALeast's artwork depicts twisted metal animals interacting in a human world.
Filled with shading and movement, his vibrant, detailed pieces burst with energy. And his latest piece, depicting two deer bound together is no exception. The mural, called "One" in Chinese, represents the bond between two animals. Other DALeast artwork feature whales, lions, dragons and horses.
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.
19. David de la Mano
Spanish artist David de la Mano creates murals and street art with silhouettes, trees and other monochromatic imagery, much like this beautiful blue whale piece.
Much of his artwork is the result of a collaboration with fellow artist Pablo S. Herrero. The duo's striking pieces can be found spread across Norway, Peru, Uruguay and Spain.
And now for something a little different. The artwork of Polish artist NeSpoon is not the kind you'd immediately associate with street art. But that's one of the reasons we love it. Decorating Warsaw with so called 'jewellery of the public space', she creates beautifully intricate designs in multiple forms; paint, yarn and cement.
NeSpoon's most recurring and favourite patterns is Polish traditional lace. Breaking it's old fashioned stereotype, she cleverly uses it to beautify gritty urban spaces.
Another street artist hailing from Paris, C215, aka Christian Guémy, uses stencils to produce beautiful street art depicting vulnerable and marginalized 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.
22. Interesni Kazki
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. You can see more of their work on their blog.
Argentinian street artist Jaz has been creating incredible street art in Buenos Aires since 1998. Having trained in fine art, he's intrigued by the idea of bringing old and new approach to painting together.
Discontent with his family, acts of strength and scenes of conflict are common themes, making his art compelling viewing for the art world and passers-by alike.
New York-born street artist Gaia's incredible skills, combined with his strange and dark portrayals of humans with animal limbs, make for a creator of street art who's revered around the world.
Gaia is also keen to help others explore the medium, setting up festivals and group sessions, which fill places like his town of Baltimore with new and exciting murals.
Belgian street artist ROA's huge black and white animal murals have appeared throughout the world. The artist started showcasing his creations on abandoned buildings and warehouses in the isolated areas of his hometown. His artwork can now be seen across buildings and shop shutters in New York, London, Warsaw, and Paris.
What we find most impressive about his monochrome creations are the intricate details, as well as the sheer scale.
26. Julian Beever
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 above all it's Julian Beever's playful approach to the medium that has us in awe.
The British born artist started out as a busker, before attracting commerical 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 – has 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 stretch 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 finest's El Mac descended upon the city to bring it to life. To see more, check out our report on last year's event.
Next page: 20 more awesome examples of street art