For many people, embracing the title of "artist" feels complicated. Whether you're talking about sculptors, poets, or jewelry designers (ahem), artists sometimes shy away from such a designation until they reach a certain milestone.
Those "whens" turn art into something with a price tag. They turn art into something permanent. Street art turns all of those "whens" upside down — and that's one of the reasons I love it so very much.
Defining street art
I think of street art, once simply called graffiti, as expressive paintings on the sides of buildings. Much of it consists of bold color choices and lines, though it's evolving to include a variety of palettes and forms. Though you can find it anywhere, street art occurs most commonly in urban settings, in part because artists can find so many more canvasses in cities than they can in rural areas!
The many purposes of street art
Street art offers the artist a wide open canvas to express political views or commentary, especially because some artists choose to remain anonymous even as their styles uniquely emerge. Other pieces work to unite communities — and tourists — such as the murals of expansive wings popping up all over the country.
One of the intriguing parts of street art arises from its impermanence. Its existence can be changed by elements like rainstorms or erased when covered by other artistic expressions. When I see a piece that strikes me, I pause to savor it. I may take a photo or simply sit and study what I love about it. After all, unlike the temperature-controlled, heavily monitored pieces in museums, street art is only guaranteed to exist in the very moment you're living in.
Some street artists to follow
Like so many other admirers, I think of the elusive Banksy as the all-encompassing street artist. From art installations to paintings to a live auction shredding, Banksy's innovative art pops up without warning — and sometimes without any explanation at all. The social commentator allows a signature style to say so much about global events, which I admire.
I also admire C215 (given name: Christian Guemy, who focuses on the faces of locals, excepting the portraits of his own daughter. Through his work, we can see Nina grow up through her father's art. For a completely different experience, check out Mentalgassi. Berlin hosts these pieces, which are often hidden in plain sight. You might need to view them on an angle, like paintings done on the sides of mental fences, which makes me think about shifting my perspective to get a clearer picture.
Cities where street art flourishes
Honestly, I love discovering street art off the beaten path. Of course, that doesn't mean the jungles of Costa Rica! Some cities allow street art to flourish, even if their main artists aren't known names. For a beautiful glimpse into the world of graffiti art, check out some of my favorites:
Don't forgot to wander around cities where you live or are visiting to see graffiti artists creating work on your own turf. Some of the pieces that have touched me the most are those I glimpse when out and about, their names unknown but their work etched on my memory.
Have you ever noticed street art that you can't stop thinking about?