On the cover: Jerkface mural located in the East Village, in New York City.
Over the years, street art has become a way for cities to revive neighborhoods; a means for artists to express themselves in a more public space; a platform for activists to broadcast their messages; a medium for brands to let their colours show. From Miami, to Lisbon, to Melbourne, and everything in between, the world has become a large canvas to discover.
MURAL Blog, in collaboration with Air Canada Corporate Rewards, introduces #TravelTuesday, a street art destination content series, where each piece will explore an artsy city’s unique street art culture.
We’ve decided to re-visit the birthplace of graffiti this month by looking into one of the first OG street art destination: New York City. Going back as far as the early 60’s, graffiti started popping up in the city. At the time, graffiti also known as “tags” mostly represented the painters’ names in an artistic and colourful mark. It was seen as an opportunity to communicate your voice silently but publically. Over the years, this subversive culture reached a milestone with the fusion of hip hop culture, allowing for the graffiti community to develop rapidly over the 80’s.
At first, tags appeared on the sides of train cars. When the city announced that graffitied trains will no longer be circulated in service, graffers took to the city’s walls. As more and more graffiti artists began adorning the city’s buildings, styles and techniques also multiplied. Now, what was once considered as an act of vandalism is now widely considered as high art.
Local Street Artists To Know
Being one of the most populated city in the world and a cultural hotspot, the city that never sleeps boasts an impressive number of street art legends that have dominated the concrete jungle, such as: Keith Haring, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Fab 5 Freddy, Doze Green and more. Here are some of the names you should look for on your next visit to the Big Apple.
Brooklyn-based duo Faile is known for exploring duality through their artworks. The duo uses a hybrid of stenciling and wheat-pasting collages allowing them the versatility to work on an impressive variety of mediums, from canvases to sculptures, prints, window pallets and more.
Mixing classical calligraphy and contemporary graffiti writing, Faust has made a name for himself as one of the most innovative graffiti artists.
Born in New York City, Futura2000, started making graffiti in the early 70’s on subway cars. At the time, his unique abstract style stood out from the scene which was mainly focusing on lettering. Some of his revolutionary artworks can still be spotted around the city.
In collaboration with Os Gemeos.
Filled with nostalgia, the Queens native artist showcases some of our favorite characters from our childhood depicted in his large and colourful murals.
- Logan Hicks
Originally a screen printer from Baltimore, Logan Hicks learned from one of the best, Shepard Fairey. Now based in New York City, he explores the dynamics of the urban environment through stencil artworks with a photorealistic style.
In collaboration with Joe Iurato.
A celebrated graffiti legend within the community, Cope2 started tagging back in the 70’s, painting his name on NYC subways and on the streets of the Bronx. Nowadays, the artist mostly focuses on studiowork but his very singular bubble letters can still be found in the streets of New York.
In collaboration with Okuda.
- Buff Monster
Influenced by heavy metal music, ice cream, pop art and Japanese culture, Buff Monster’s funny characters, bright colours and bold lines, liven up several walls in his home city.
Where to go?
New York City is decidedly filled with some of the best and original street art. One could easily walk around with no particular itinerary and stumble onto great artworks. However, here are a few spots not to miss.
Founded in 2011 by Joe Ficalora with the notion to reimagine the landscape of his neighbourhood, the Bushwick Collective has succeeded in transforming the area into a massive open-air gallery. It features works by some of the most popular street artists in the world, such as legend Blek Le Rat, Pixel Pancho, Invader and more.The collective’s annual block party event combines graffiti, street-art, music, food trucks and more while engaging the community, tourists as well as artists together in celebration of art.
Artwork by Blek Le Rat.
- Bowery and Houston Wall
Almost 40 years ago, this wall became a landmark destination when Keith Haring created his first large-scale mural on the concrete canvas. Since then, the wall, carefully curated by Jeffrey Deitch, has seen the works of globally renowned artists like Os Gemeos, Shepard Fairey, Ron English and now Tristan Eaton.
Artwork by Tristan Eaton, photographed by Martha Cooper.
- Coney Art Walls
Also curated by the renowned Jeffrey Deitch, the Coney Island boardwalk is one of the most visited place in the Big Apple and also a great area to spot interesting street artists’ works, such as D*Face’s, London Police’s or Nychos’.
Artwork by Nychos.
- DUMBO Walls
Resulting from a partnership between the DUMBO Improvement District, Two Trees Management Co, the New York City Department of Transportation Urban Art Program (NYCDOT) and the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, the project brought breathtaking artworks by MOMO, Shepard Fairey, Faith47 and many others to the former industrial neighbourhood– now famous tourist destination.
Artwork by Shepard Fairey.
- The High Line
The famous elevated park holds multiple street art pieces thanks to art collective Friends of the High Line who invited artists from all over the world to colour its path. Included on the line-up, acclaimed French artist, JR, who created a piece as part of “Inside Out” project. As well, Brazilian artist Kobra who reimagined the famous ‘Kissing Sailor’ photograph on one of the park’s walls back in 2012.
Artwork by Henry Taylor.
- Graffiti Hall of Fame
With the motto “Strictly Kings or Better”, you’re sure to see some masterpieces at the Graffiti Hall of Fame which was founded back in 1980.