London has always been well ahead of other capital cities in terms of architecture, design, fashion and music – and the same can be said about its street art scene.
Just when street art was becoming a thing in other major cities around the world, street artists in London were already painting the town red with their eye-opening, jaw-dropping canvases which were plastered all over the city walls, factories, buildings, bridges and even store shutters.
Although it’s one thing to paint a canvas or even a simple graffiti tag in a city (and London has no shortage of that), but to create artwork that makes people think, or even change the thoughts of an entire generation, is a whole other aspect of street art entirely.
Out of all the famous street artists who have made a mark on London (from ROA, Jimmy C, Big Mac and of course Banksy), it’s these few from London who are truly inspirational in every sense of the word:
Were you one of those kids who used to love drawing stick figures in your school notebook? Well this British-born (but now London-based) street artist has made a living out of it – and his world-famous stick figures have even become some of the most iconic pieces in London’s street art scene. As a matter of fact, one of his most provocative pieces in Shoreditch (of a couple holding hands) has since been identified as the 17th favourite piece of street art in the UK!
Poetic yet simplistic, his stick figure pieces usually incorporate some type of fabric in the building they´re plastered on; (he even stated in an interview once: “I see the city in 3D, as a network of buildings and alleyways and access points”). His stickmen usually consist of just dots and six lines, and he originally started putting up his pieces in Hoxton Squares years before it became a popular art spot for street artists in London.
Where to find Stik’s street art in London: Pitfield Street, St. Giles in the Fields, White Horse Street, Hackney Marshes, and countless spots in East Dulwich and Shoreditch
Known for his cartoon owl trademark, Dscreet’s artistic style has been described as everything from “cartoonish” to “retro,” and his work has even been included in different street art documentaries as well.
He originally wanted to be a cartoonist (which is evident when looking at his street art), and although he claimed his influences are Ren And Stimpy, it’s clear that he likes owls. A lot.
When asked about why he loves owls oh so much, he said it’s because the image of the animal represents so many different things around the world, and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. But regardless of what your interpretation of his owl symbols mean, it’s evident that his street art is laced with comedy (he even said himself that “it’s better to smile and laugh at it, than get angry and punch a wall”)
Where to find Dscreet’s street art in London: Brick Lane, Hackney Wick, Blackall Street and Grimsby Street
Who would have thought that a simple word or even just a letter could have such an impact on not only the street art scene in London, but around the world as well? Well Ben Eine (also known as simply “Eine”) has made a name for himself by doing just that. Some even argue that his artwork style fits into his own specific street art genre!
He’s been coined as a pioneer in letter-formed street art, and even one of the early pioneers of street art in Shoreditch (now considered to be the focal point of London’s thriving street art scene) He also became a household name in 2010 when David Cameron gave Obama the artist’s “Twenty-First Century City” painting during his first official state visit.
His work usually consists of block typography, retro signage and bright, vibrant colours (which is ironic given that message behind his street art is usually quite negative and provocative – such as words like “SCARY” and “EXTORTIONISTS”).
Where to find Ben Eine’s street art in London: Rivington Street, Old Street, Ebor Street, and countless spots in Shoreditch and Hackney
Phlegm may originally be from North Wales, but his impact on the London street art scene is unmistakable.
His work usually consists of odd, fantasy-type creatures and monochromatic paintings with the tiniest of decorative details, which draws in anyone who focuses on his work for more than a few seconds. Phlegm is also unique in that he doesn’t use any type of graffiti-style lettering (which is why most describe his murals as a type of “cartoon-based art”).
Besides being known for his self-published comics, Phlegm is also famous for transforming different run-down urban spaces and factories, (which led him to being coined as one of the best urban artists on the planet), as well as plastering his work on vehicles, boats and even airplanes.
Where to find Phlegm’s street art in London: Heneage Street, Goldhawk Road, Goodrich Road and the Southbank Centre
If Andy Warhol defined New York’s pop art scene, then it’s safe to say that D*Face certainly defined London’s pop art scene…and paved the way for future London-based pop artists to come.
D*Face was apparently once an associate of Banksy, and he’s been listed as everything from the most “prolific” urban artists of our generation, to even “the father to London’s street art scene.” His work often sells for as much as £60,000, and he was even hired to design Blink 182’s California album in 2016.
The characters in his street art have been often described as “a British version of Shepard Fairey,” and his unique reinterpretation of pop art has been compared to the likes of Roy Lichtenstein, and obviously Andy Warhol.
His work has become so inspiring, other street artists have started imitating his unique style, which often uses a variety of techniques and mediums – not to mention a “dysfunctional family of characters.” He has a clear criticism of American-led consumerism which is evident when looking at his work, such as Coca Cola logos surrounded by barbed wire, and helmets with bullet holes through them.
Where to find D*Face’s street art in London: Sclater Street, Commercial Street
Interested in finding some of the best street art spots in London? Join us on our free Street Art and Graffiti Tour every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday at 3:30 p.m.; (more info here).