New York City is notorious for having some of the world’s best street art talent – and 30-something female graffiti artist Swoon is no exception. Her life-sized wheat paste ups are second to none, and feature intricate paper cutouts that reflect the social atmosphere that surrounds her. Inspired by the people who come in contact with her throughout her life, she translates the pathos of the street onto the walls of the city they reside in using recycled newsprint that yellows, cracks and decays over time, taking on a life of its own.
“I’ve always really had the sense of the way that people store things inside their bodies and the way that everything you’ve ever seen or ever done is a part of you. I felt like in a way if I could somehow draw that, or make an x-ray, maybe it was just your experiences that day or maybe it’s just what you walked past that day, or maybe it’s a deeper story that’s somewhere in there for the telling.”
To learn more about Swoon and see her other amazing projects, check out this great interview on brooklynstreetart.com
To buy her prints, visit artnet.com.
Also, read about her first exhibition at designboom.com.
Michael Sieben’s illustrations have always been a favourite of mine. He’s been a staff writer and illustrator for Thrasher Magazine since 2004, peppering their pages with all forms of awesomeness and hilarity, and partnered with Stacy Lowery to found the super-fantastic Roger Skateboards brand in 2008. Aside from that, he’s one of the founding members behind Camp Fig Gallery, which lasted from 2002-2006 and is one of the founders of Okay Mountain Gallery in Austin, Texas since 2006.
His extensive collection of work has been showcased around the world, including major markets such as London, Japan, Mexico and Peru. As an illustrator and designer, he’s focused mainly on the wonderful world of skateboard subculture, and has worked for huge clients like Adidas, Bueno Skateboards, MySpace Secret Shows, Toy Machine, Upper Playground and Volcom Stone to name just a few.
Recently, Gingko Press and Upper Playground published a book of his artwork entitled There’s Nothing Wrong With You (Hopefully.) I’m dying to get my hands on this one – it’s available at Amazon, as well as on the Gingko Press website, and copies are flying off the shelves, so I better act fast.
To see more of Sieben’s wicked work, check out his website.
Inspired by a passion for music and the world of art, Taj Francis is a name to start looking out for. At only 22 years old, this Jamaican artist and illustrator has been honing his craft through traditional and digital means for “as long as he can remember”. His mastery of pen, brush, ink and spray paint is really incredible and though he’s still in school at the Edna Manley College School of Arts, he’s already been sought after for advertising and has even started his own clothing line. His talent can only push onwards and upwards and I hope to see more of his work spread across the globe soon.
Check out more of his work – including his traditional pen and ink illustrations – via his website.
Hawaii’s Cryptik has been creating street art for some time, but his most recent development has been delving into Eastern philosophy and religion and spreading it’s message of awareness, peace and evolution towards enlightenment to the public through his richly decorative graffiti work. He deftly constructs images of Ghandi, Ganesh, Buddhist gods and elements of Eastern mysticism and weaves them throughout the urban landscape.
What I love about Cryptik’s work is that it not only decorates deteriorating city walls, but it serves as a reminder to the people to challenge their beliefs, find themselves within the larger fabric of the universe and explore new possibilities, without slapping a political or religious agenda onto it. Isn’t art intrinsically about the motivation for inspiration and thought? Cryptik’s works prove to be an illuminating catalyst, at very least.
Check out more on Cryptik and his cause, via his website. Also be sure to check out his new book “Cryptik: Eastern Philosophies” available at Zero Publishing.
Street art and graffiti have almost always received a bad reputation for tarnishing the urban landscape. Most artists have to conceal their artistic process by cover of night, and try to maintain anonymity for fear of prosecution. The existing laws worldwide are harsh on street artists and the punishments are exceedingly excessive, and thus creates a criminal stigma that pervades the practice, forcing it to remain below the surface of accepted society. Street artists and graffiti writers are starting to take a stand – if they can’t paint on public surfaces, they’ll create surfaces on which to work themselves – and Cellograff was born.
Stringing cellophane between trees, poles, light posts, pillars, and any other form of structure creates a fresh canvas that incorporates itself into the urban landscape without damaging the surroundings. When you remove the vandalism and damage to public property, you remove the criminal element, and make it safer to create street art outside during the day. Take that, law enforcement!
I’m not sure exactly how this phenomenon began, but it is said that in 2006 Kanos and Reci Xelecce formed the Politically Correct crew and wanted to add their artistic mark to the streets of Paris without vandalism or permanently scarring the environment. They decided to string up temporary canvas using cellophane and began the trend. Kanos was later joined by Astro and took a more graffiti oriented slant to their work. Several crews in Europe are spreading the technique around so I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of this in the near future. It’s amazing what they can create and the possibilities are virtually endless! What I’d love to see is more work that includes the landscape around it as an artistic element of the piece itself – wouldn’t that be cool!
To learn more about Kanos & Astro, and to check out more of their work, visit their website.
Here are some great examples of cellograff (most are from Paris)…
Wandering the Berlin streets at night with a purpose, German street art collective Mentalgassi has been reinventing the aesthetic quality of public recycling bins, ticket validating machines, and other unsightly urban objects with photographic wheatpastes. The effect is such that these faces often watch you as you walk by them, which is a little creepy, but creative and amusing all the same.
To see more of their work, check out their blog.
Herakut is a graffiti duo from Germany – Akut, from the East, and Hera from Frankfurt. They fell in love with the graffiti scene instantly due to it’s heavy hip hop influence, the fact that it’s done outdoors, and that the dimensions of the work are usually massive, which leads to more public exposure. From the instant they met and painted together it clicked, and their two vastly different styles have since fused into one, creating an awesome contrast between the two without the competition. They usually take turns at the piece they’re working on, collaborating in sporadic bursts of imagination. Their symbiotic relationship as artists grows out of the idea that, as a graffiti artist, you’re used to having your work crossed out, but you don’t let that stop you – you just go one to paint a new one.
Their most poignant piece, I think, is “Sisters Helping Brothers Helping Sisters”. It evokes a sense of unity between the sexes that otherwise is overlooked by most of society. In a world where people are generally becoming more individualistic, it lashes out and reminds us that we need to come together as a community to create something beautiful – we cannot always do it by ourselves.
To see more from Herakut, visit their website.
Christian Guémy (aka C215), is a Parisian stencil artist who’s been in the graffiti game for over 20 years. Described as France’s answer to Banksy, his work is prolific, magnetic, and lyrical. Focusing mostly on portraits of people, he usually narrows in on one main type of character – those that society has forgotten or cast aside, such as the homeless, refugees, street urchins, and the elderly. He likes to put them in places where people can be drawn to them when they pay attention, but that can be easily overlooked as you pass by, and they exist in many cities all over the world such as Amsterdam, Paris, London, Rome, Barcelona.
Aside from street art, he also creates more commercial artwork that is exhibited in galleries and solo shows, capturing his subjects on canvas and wood. He’s also passed on his extraordinary talent to his daughter, Nina, who is also growing into becoming a talented stencil artist.
For a quick introduction to C215 and his work, click here.
Check out an interview with C215 here.
Visit his website for more.
This is just a small sample of his work: