Street art is a powerful medium through which one can communicate with a large audience and bring about a change in mindsets. Creative minds find their own best way to pack a message between the bristles of their brushes.
Painters express an innate message through street art. These often cryptic messages can be anything from social topics to the lives of artists and beauty.
You could say that street art can be, in a way, traced back to prehistoric eras when people used to draw on cave walls. Although there may not be a definitive answer as to why our ancestors drew on their walls, there are several hypotheses. Maybe they wanted to draw their accomplishments (like hunting a mammoth) or convey messages, but we can't know for sure.
Street artists today take inspiration from their culture, status quo, societal issues, and modernity and paint it on the walls. The expansive body of urban art in the world can help you understand the culture and style of a region.
In this age of Instagram and Pinterest, it has become easier to track the artists behind these creations. However, several street artists like to remain anonymous for their own safety, as what they do is considered vandalism or draws unwanted attention in a few countries.
In this article, we show you the 20 most incredible pieces of street art from all over the world that have captured the imaginations of people and is inspiring several young artists and movements. Try visiting these places to draw inspiration or just to enjoy!
20 Frida Kahlo, Paris – Marko 93
Marko 93, a famous street artist for his giant frescos, paid a tribute to Frida Kahlo, an artist from Mexico, for the second time. Because of his exploration of light in his work, Marko 93 is nicknamed “The French Lighter”.
Frida Kahlo was a role model to many. She always advocated for the equality of men and women, and much later, feminists reevaluated her work and formed a Kahlo cult complete with t-shirts, posters, books and comics. After the revolution in 1910, Frida Kahlo became the nations’ symbol.
Marko 93 in his street art painting has taken care of every detail of Frida Kahlo, including her love for animals and her piercing eyes reflecting fearlessness. You can find this piece of art in the streets of Rue de L’Ourcq in Paris.
19 Two Of One Kind, Lisbon – A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words
Dutch artist-extraordinaires, Telmo and Miel, aka The Vikings, painted stunning murals around the globe. One such piece of art named, “Two of One Kind” in Lisbon, Portugal, stands as a testimony for the splendor of the brothers’ street art painting. They made this mural in collaboration with an artist from Portugal, Pariz One, for the MURO festival.
Every street art depicts a story of the place or neighborhood. And this Two Of One Kind is said to be community-focused. The girls in the murals wearing oversized shirts are said to be highlighting some issue the residential place may be facing.
18 Wall Poetry, Reykjavik – A Gentle Reminder
Herakut, an artistic duo from Germany, collaborated with Kronos Quartet, a string quartet from America, to flesh out their imaginations on the walls of Reykjavik in Iceland. Herakut showcased their signature character surrounded by birds playing a cello. There is also a text that reads, “Isn’t it our job to be collecting great moments.” It indeed is!
Wall Poetry is an outcome of artists and musicians who had come together for the Airwaves Festival in Reykjavik. The art piece looks like a reminder for people to take time off for themselves and create wonderful memories. The music flowing from the cello and the flying birds attempt to merge nature and art, but that’s just our interpretation. You can draw your own by visiting Wall Poetry in downtown Reykjavik.
17 Gummy Bears, Malta - Intrigue
Love those squishy, little, sweet gummy bears? In Malta, these candies aren’t small. In fact, they aren’t even edible. The Malta Street Art Festival recently showcased the work of Leon Keer with life-sized gummy bear illusionary art. Keer used the “anamorphic distortion” art style to paint these gelatinous projections.
But there is a story to the painting which you need to discover yourself. It is there in the picture. Leon Keer suggests that the jiggly protoplasmic bears are there for a reason. And, if you take a closer look, it does seem true! We were literally taken aback and intrigued. But no matter our feelings, it sure is a masterpiece.
16 Our North Is The South, Australia – Black & White
Painter and muralist Inti Castro aka Inti, from Chile, created a mural named ‘Our North Is The South’ at the Wonderwalls Street Art Festival in Port Adelaide, Australia. Inti created this mural, including his signature character, the Kusillo, dressed as a clown. The genre of the portrait is a dichotomy between dark and light.
Inti’s mural is a reflection of Latin America’s life and culture. According to the artists, it also exhibits present social and cultural issues of the region, especially faith, light, and time. The broken glass, the passing bullet, skull, globe, books and other elements attribute to the deeper concerns both bright and dark of the region.
15 Viennese Butterflies, Austria – A Tribute To Superheroes Without Capes
Mantra, an artist from France, paints gigantic butterfly specimens of clever trompe-l’œil 3D murals. The self-taught artist’s murals are said to be a tribute to his childhood heroes, which are birds, butterflies and spiders. Making the streets of Wien, Austria his canvas, Mantra created the beautiful butterflies with vibrant colors.
By giving a touch of beauty and nature to the commercial and residential buildings, Mantra has been transforming buildings across different countries such as Spain, Austria, France, and Bogota. Also in Vienna, Mantra teamed up with artist Stinkfish and created a masterpiece that reflects an amalgamation of hyper-realistic style and vibrant abstract patterns.
14 Star Wars, Horsens, Denmark – Yoda On A Wall
Christian Guémy, or C215 as he calls himself, brought to life a series of stencil-based works on Star Wars on the walls of a street at the city of Horsens in Denmark. C215’s shimmering blue Yoda broods on the walls and imparts Jedi wisdom to onlookers.
The Parisian artist, C215, has also painted various other graffiti on Horsen’s walls, and on the walls of the streets in New Delhi, London, Istanbul, Fes, Rome, and Paris and in countries such as Brazil, Poland, Israel, and Morocco.
Guémy breathes life into his stencil of Yoda in Horsens and into whatever it creates. Here is a fun challenge for non-francophones - try pronouncing his name; he, apparently, loves this game!
13 Sea Turtle, Buenos Aires, Argentina – Paintings That Come Alive
Argentina’s economic issues of 2001 led to an interesting collaboration of various artists (such as graphic designers), who came together to establish an exhibition to do what they do best - express.
Graffitimundo, the exhibition, gives a guided tour of buildings painted with stenciled slogans and caricatures - some political, some purely aesthetic.
Martin Ron, who is often quoted in the top ten finest muralists in the world, has painted incredible murals in Buenos Aires too. Ron uses hyper-realism and a hint of fantasy to create breathtaking 3D compositions on walls and buildings. His 3D sea turtle in Buenos Aires actually comes alive!
12 Bird & Skull, San Francisco – Beautiful Chaos
San Francisco’s Zio Ziegler, through his intricate and cryptic works, takes us to a whole new world. Even for the simplest of figures, Ziegler casts kaleidoscopic filter and brings magic to his murals. The bright patterns and layers of symbols are detailed to give elegance to chaos, the which is also the leitmotif of his paintings.
This Bird and Skull mural of Ziegler is a gorgeous painting he drew in Sycamore Alley of San Francisco, along with artist Ian Ross. The mural is a visual treat to art lovers. It is considered a fine balance between reason and intuition.
11 Wild Buffalo, Belgium – Through The Animals’ Souls
Roa, a graffiti and street artist from Belgium, creates massive murals on the streets of various cities all over the world. Through his distinct portrayal of mammoth-sized animals, he draws attention to the animals that dwell among humans in urban areas. The acclaimed “nomadic” artist creates standalone art pieces apt to the location and region.
Roa swayed his hand in Doel, a coastal town in Belgium that has been almost abandoned. Located in the municipality of Beveren near Antwerp, the vanishing town is now a canvas for graffiti artists and poets who want to help it shine a beautiful and lasting light before it disappears forever. Only using black and white in the color palette, Roa included anatomical features with vivid details and captured the animal’s emotions.
10 The Garden Car, Toronto – Perfect Background For An Instagram Pic
If you are in Toronto but haven’t visited Kensington Market yet, then you are missing out on the small things in life that it make it so pleasant! Besides the multicultural cuisine, comic-book stores, vintage shopping mall, and other delights, Kensington Market also offers an abundance of street art for tourists.
Here, you can find Rock and Adrian Hayles Productions’ Garden Car, a 2001 Ford Taurus. This is among several other Garden Cars in the Market. People who visit Kensington Market in Toronto get glued to this vibrant piece of art. Don’t forget to add it to your Instagram collection!
9 Mayahuel Cactus People, Arizona - Beauty On Brick
The Fourth Avenue or 4th Ave in Tucson, Arizona, is a hip and unique district that has its own subculture. When you visit this place, you can visit the solar-powered bookstore, a Guatemalan restaurant, pubs, galleries, and cafés and, not to mention, a brick-wall art tribute to Gregory Colbert's "Boy Reading to Elephant."
Another graffiti artist, Rocky Martinez, aka Cyfi, with assistance from Cristina Perez, painted a mural (see pic) that has everyone in the downtown area of Tucson talking. There are hundreds of other graffiti artworks painted on the walls in the district by him and other artists. The downtown hosts a festival called Street Fair every winter and spring, which showcases great food, culture, and art.
8 The Crevasse, Ireland – Is Sid Back At It Again?
Edgar Müller, the world’s finest 3D illusionist street painter, brings cutting-edge pavement art to the streets. He conceives these giant optical illusions that leave the viewers agape in awe. Müller has broken his own Guinness Book of World Records time and again. His 3D art featuring characters of Ice Age (see pic) has got him the prestigious honors.
Edgar Müller created The Crevasse, a giant fissure in Dun Laoghaire, Ireland, that spans over 250 square meters. When we saw the art, we were sure Sid from Ice Age is back with his acorn on another continent-shattering charade. Yes, Edgar’s creations are that incredible!
7 Nomerz Monster House, Russia – The Buildings Are Alive!
Nikita Nomerz shows us the meaning of “alive” through her art of pouring life into derelict buildings. The graffiti artist from Russia, in his series, collectively known as ‘The Living Wall,’ paints old and abandoned buildings and factories. Nomerz paints strange faces on the lifeless walls. Filling the urban emptiness, Nomerz is transforming buildings in Russia.
By creating monster-like buildings, the graffiti artist is creating a path for site-specific artworks. Each painting of Nomerz embodies a specific character on most of the rundown and abandoned areas of the cities. Nomerz’s art enjoys a lot of attention for its uniqueness, strangeness and freshness.
6 Wake Up, Italy – Caricature With A Strong Message
Street artist Mister Blob uses graffiti to paint the walls of buildings in Milan. He painted the mural “Wake Up” at the Meeting of Styles in Milan. The artist aims to give a wakeup call through his art. Mister Blob draws this mural (above) on ceramic tiles. His fun-filled caricatures bring out the “serious” issues of urban culture but with a light-hearted spin.
Using dynamic colors and great attention-to-detail, Mister Blob adds realism to the character (some weird man-bird), and through them delivers facts, stories and messages. The man/bird with wings and hands breaking the door of the clock-house apparently tells us the need to break our shackles and embrace certain things, like art and speech.
5 Interactive Street Art, Malaysia - The Untold Story
Lebuh Armenian bears its name due to it having been populated by prominent Armenian merchants long ago. The crowded street is imploding with art galleries, cafes, and clothes shops. Lebuh Armenian is also famous for its wall art.
Unlike in a lot of places in the world, artists here paint much more than just graffiti. They sketch hyper-realistic portraits and surreal drawings. Don’t be surprised if you confuse children riding a bike in front of the wall to be actual children.
Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic created this hyper-realistic artwork featuring two kids on a wall and strategically placed a real bike to give it a 3D-like feel. This art piece went viral on social media.
4 Bold Colorful Owl, Mexico – Striking Colors
Mexico has splendid murals depicting caricatures and portraits of native culture, freedom struggles, abstracts, modernist ideas, and many other concepts. The graffiti works of its artists are a renaissance of sorts, and appeal to the young and the free thinkers.
You can find portraits made by Farid Rueda on the streets of Mexico. The street artist is famous for his graffiti art that reflects Mexico’s cultural references without turning into a cliché. As one of his animal-themed pieces, Rueda painted this owl of bold and intoxicating colors on the streets of Mexico City. Interestingly, Rueda’s street art is all about his masterful use of colors.
3 The John Lennon Wall, Prague - Off-Beaten & Iconic
Once a cause of strife between students and political parties, The John Lennon Wall has been covered in John Lennon- and Beatles-inspired graffiti art since the ‘80s. Owned by The Knights Of Malta, the wall is an off-beaten yet iconic landmark in Prague.
During the period of the strife, local youth used to spray-paint Lennon’s portrait and The Beatles song lyrics (related to peace, freedom and other values), and since has become a symbol of sorts in the Czech Republic. Visitors are allowed to add their own slogans and graffiti to this wall without damaging it.
But careful, you can get lost trying to find it in the winding streets!
2 Female Portrait, England – Big Bang Of Colors
The capital city of England, London, is not just one of the most historic cities in the world but also the heart of graffiti and mural culture in the country and, probably, the world. Several famous graffiti artists, such as Banksy (an anonymous artist who dominates the graffiti business), Stik (the guy who makes Stick figures), and Toast have left their marks and continue to rule the art scene.
There's also David Walker, a London-based street artist who creates a big bang of colors in his portraits using just spray paint. His unique style of street art not only mesmerizes the audience, but also his peers. This particular mural of a woman can be seen on Great Eastern Street, Shoreditch.
1 Swimming Pool In Charleston, West Virginia – The Camera Will Reveal All
Julian Beever creates trompe-l’œil chalk drawings on pavements. The artist from England is a master of chalk art and has taken the Internet by the storm with his skills. He is often referred to as the “Pavement Picasso” and enjoys a massive following both online and offline.
This particular surreal art at Charleston, West Virginia, depicts a woman in a swimming pool. He creates anamorphic illusions with special distortions that look 3D when viewed from a particular angle. Clicking pictures of this art piece is a fun experience amid the confused looks from pedestrians who seem to think that it is real. Only the lens of your camera can reveal the truth.
References: boredpanda, Brightside, afar