You know you’re living in the future when you realise that graffiti has gone from denigrated vandalism performed by rebellious teenagers to admired artwork that gets those teenagers (who are often not teenagers at all these days!) endorsements and other lucrative deals – not to mention gallery showings. Graffiti artists illustrate album covers, appear in advertisements, and make the 6 o’clock news. In other words, graffiti has come into its own and may be regarded as one of the most important artistic movements of the 21st century.
Graffiti has long been regarded as a pure expression of citizen art. Much like the punk music movement, graffiti celebrates the vision of anyone who wishes to express it, regardless of their classical artistic training or skill. This doesn’t mean that graffiti artists lack training or skill – in fact, some are capable of producing amazing art based on classic principles. It just means that art – and the ability to create it – belongs to everyone.
Graffiti has become so mainstream that many cities have stopped preventing street artists and started preserving their best work. Graffiti isn’t just considered a way of beautifying urban landscapes, either – it’s become a go-to way of decorating hip modern homes all over the world. If you’re thinking about drawing on the power of graffiti art for your home, here’s our low-down on the most influential graffiti artists of 2014 for inspiration.
Perhaps the most famous graffiti artist in the world right now, Banksy continued his dominance of the form in 2014. An extremely talented artist, Banksy combines pointed satire and political commentary with a subversive art style to create public art that challenges, comments, and sometimes enrages. He’s infamous for combining photorealism with surrealism to create a striking contrast.
Want a Banksy look on your wall? If you don’t have $20 million to spare, here’s a more affordable option.
Even if you’ve never been to the United States, you may have seen one of Fairey’s most iconic works: Barack Obama’s 2008 ‘Hope’ campaign poster. He’s worked with Banksy and some of his work has a similar feel, but he also loves to experiment with stencilling and ‘pop’ art techniques. Few artists in general, much less graffiti artists, have penetrated pop culture as deeply as Shepard Fairey.
Zephyr invented many of the ‘classic’ styles and looks of urban art. Active since the 1970s, if you close your eyes and imagine classic urban graffiti you are likely imagining Zephyr’s iconic style, which has been stolen, interpreted, and incorporated into works by countless copycat artists over the years. Although he’s now celebrated, for much of his career graffiti was illegal and many of his works were, unfortunately, painted over or removed.
If you’re looking for that classic look and feel, check out this Zephyr-like piece.
New York born and bred, Blade has filled the New York subway system with beautiful creations that combine classic graffiti with fun, silly subjects like pizza slices wearing bow-ties. His bold, cartoonish style is a lot of fun and is ideal either to set a playful tone in a room or as a counterpoint to an otherwise sophisticated and ‘adult’ space.
If you’re looking for that Blade feel in your space, here’s a suggestion that uses the same techniques.
David Choe is perhaps the second most famous graffiti artist in the world, as the man who painted the Facebook headquarters. Choe’s style combines precise line drawing with explosive surrealism, resulting in pieces that surprise and challenge the viewer in unexpected ways. His work also often combines two distinct aspects of modern life that appear unrelated at first glance – shocking but pointless – only to come together after a bit of thought.
Saber works on a huge scale, painting large outdoor murals in public spaces that instantly become protected public art. His art often require months of work and hundreds of litres of paint – all the more remarkable because during much of his career graffiti was illegal.
You can replicate the scale and power of Saber’s work with a large-scale print of something like this – go as big as you can so you really get a sense of scale!
Graffiti is no longer a plague or a blight – it’s been recognised as a beautiful form of art with its own traditions and school. More and more cities are delighted to preserve and protect the examples found on their streets; more and more museums are seeking the works of famous street artists for their walls; and more and more people are seeking graffiti for their home décor as well.
As always, we’re happy to offer you affordable, high-impact prints that give you the power and look of graffiti art without having to cart an entire wall home from down-town!