>> S t r e e t . A r t <<

The two final quarters of my Bachelor studies were done on contract in Europe. No classes, teachers or classmates; just me exploring a dream, soaking in all I possibly could. I wrote many papers, one of my finals being a 16-pager on “European Happiness: An Eastern Perspective on a Western World” where I focused on certain aspects of European culture that I observed contributing to their expression of identity and search for happiness. Some areas of studies were public art, graffiti and architecture. I have included pieces from my paper below on street art (don’t mind the citations) and pictures of pieces that I love from around the world.

by Eelus, "nesting" in London

by Inti in Paris. Photo: Yoyolabellut

In an age of such complex political systems governing over so many people, many are left feeling oppressed, unheard and hopeless in their individual voices. Although a crime in almost all areas of the world, graffiti is gaining serious respect as an art form and popularity as a powerful means of self-expression. It can be careless defacement, but at its heart exists as public expressions using pictures and words carrying artistic or political messages.

by Herakut. Portsmouth, UK

by Fintan Switzer, "Adam". Killarney, Ireland

by Iemza. Reims, France

Painting on our surrounding environments has been fulfilling our need of  expression for thousands of years. Graffiti comes from the Italian word “graffiato” which means “scratched” (Bingham, 2010). Forms of graffiti can be traced all the way back to ancient cave paintings, hieroglyphs, and even sayings, names and drawings of politicians found on building sides in the remains of Pompeii (Barbieri, 2008). It has since become one of the largest artistic movements of the 20th century.

3D street painting:

by Edgar Mueller. Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. Geldern, Germany. by Julian Beever

Edgar Mueller. Russia

Many artists say it is not out of boredom or personal vendetta, rather a way for an individual or group of oppressed people to get their message to the masses in a way that cannot be ignored.  Often intelligent, shocking, powerful and/or humorous pictures and slogans are used to gain attention and make people think. A famous example of this is the Berlin Wall in Germany. After its construction separating the West from communist East Berlin, the people of the West protested the Wall by defacing it in some of the most powerful, political and emotional graffiti of modern times (Bingham, 2010).  The messages and styles within graffiti speak of the cultures they reflect at the time of creation.

This is Banksy… An unidentified British graffiti artist who has traveled the world leaving his famous marks behind, including on the Israeli West Bank barrier. Banksy is very popular and controversial. I recommend watching his film called, “Exit Through the Gift Shop”.

Do the times shape the artist, or does the artist shape the times?

West Bank barrier

^^^ Banksy section. End ^^^

When we take an art history course, or buy an art history book from a store, we are told about the same artists over and over and are directed to what is “good art” and what is worth our time and energy to focus on. I am not sure who made these determinations, but some may argue it is an opinion of a few that is being shoved down the throats of many (Howells, 2003). Regardless of their medium, graffiti artists are able to reach a certain depth of human emotion and experience, which is exactly what art at its best does. It makes you think and feel in real, powerful ways. It opens doors to release emotion and lets others know they are not alone in their human or political frustrations.

Unknown. East London

ROA. Vienna, Austria

Moose. Reverse graffiti

by Alberto de Pedro. Aranjuez station Madrid, Spain


Definitely future posts to come on technique, artists and other pieces…



188 thoughts on “>> S t r e e t . A r t <<

  1. Just struck: in the novel, “Tuck Everlasting”, the jail described very much resembles your first photo here. Love the caged bird sings allusion as well.

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  5. These are fantastic. It’s so strange being both inspired and shattered at the same time. Shattered mainly because I know I’ll never be that artistic!

    The 3D street painting is such a trip.

  6. I love this kind of street art. I can appreciate this whereas graffiti which dogs our suburb and public transport ruins property. This art enhances. The waterfall was just stunning.

  7. I love how thought provoking Banksy’s art is. He has painted on many locations in San Francisco. As soon as I get a chance, I play to drive up there and hop around town to see them in person.

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  9. fantastic collection of images, are they all ones you’ve been lucky enought to capture in person or just that you’ve seen online etc? I always snap street art when I see it, it’s one good reason for carrying a camera everyday, but I think I’ll spend a bit more time online as well! I also really want to see exit through the gift shop, thank you for the reminder

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  11. I love these photos! I was so excited to see someone who appreciated these things as well. I just started a blog which is this same sort of idea! Things i find in the streets that inspire! check it out…i just started but more to come soon! I

  12. “A picture speaks a thousand words”, how true. I really enjoyed your post, the pictures are breath taking, what a wonderful selection! I live in Detroit and street art is a common sight. Southwest Detroit is known for it’s brightly colored murals. I love the surprise of finding beautiful things in the most unexpected places. Great Post.

  13. that’s a really nice post. very true about the ‘streets’ being the galleries of the new century. no wonder as much of the ‘institutionalised’ art has become so self-indulgingly boring these days.

    it’s also funny what really means ‘underground’, isn’t it? what’s actually ‘below the surface’ and not (yet) ‘publicly’ acknowledged and ‘visible’? what’s actually lying underneath the actual underground?

    and that leads to the key question of who’s still able to discern pearls from fisheyes in the midst of all the expensive, dazzling packages these days, and despite the robotic marketing machines churning out brainless hype day after day?

    thanks :)


  14. There are some wonderful complex pieces of work here. Slowly, I think, true artists are coming out in the grafitti world and showing this medium is as valuable as one on canvas or paper.

    What a great way to spend your last two years of college.

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  16. You would love the documentary of Banksy: Exit through the giftshop. I have seen it last year on a festival, I was totally flabbergasted! I like your post a lot :)

    Also to everyone who likes this post: Exit through the giftshop!

  17. Like everyone else who commented, I am very moved by your selection of street art. I do wonder, though, about the moral implications, not a popular subject, I know. Did these works have permission or did they just surreptitiously pop up over night? Is that part of the definition of street art? You have got me thinking, and that’s a very good thing. Thanks.

  18. These are all just incredible, but I find the one called “Adam” by Fintan Switzer in Killarney, Ireland just stunning – it is so well done and yet so sad at the same time.

    Did you get a chance to travel to Derry, Northern Ireland? If so, I’m surprised that you didn’t include one or more of the famous murals from there.

    Regardless of that, though, your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing them and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! :)

  19. I love this piece! I grew up in San Diego, the daughter of a career Navy father, so my life was pretty much mainstream. However, in the sixties and seventies there was a strong Chicano movement and one of my favorite places to hang out at was Chicano Park in East San Diego. The murals under the Coronado Bridge were facinating and spoke to a history that some of us were just discovering through Chicano Studies and the movement. I recently was in rural Northern California and took a picture of a mural on the side of a panaderia (bakery). Talent in the streets is unparalleled. Bravo!

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  22. Awesome pictures, I really enjoyed this as a coffee break read! I love street art, its one of my favourite things. In our city (Durban South Africa), we have this Indie/Accoustic Club called Unit11, and the street art in the alley behind is amazing. I will try post some! Sometimes, it’s just graffiti and Tags, but sometimes it is art that changes a mindset! P.S. (Long time Banksy fan)

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  24. Great images, saw the Banksy film recently and loved it, shame the council where I live in Camden painted over one of his pieces, there are a few around the borough but they had a moment of painting over a lot of street art much to the annoyance of residents for the most part.

  25. Wow, you’ve found some magnificent graffiti! I especially love “Adam” in Ireland. Will you be venturing out to Asia in search of street art? If so, let me know!

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  28. I think time shapes the artist, but there are some things that artists express which are timeless, like prosperity, hope, peace, etc. Beautiful post. I love street art, and I agree with you that it does share a message with the viewers; it’s not merely vain defacement.

  29. “Imagination…………”

    I have never seen those street art. nice work. thanks for sharing. i am planning to have some snaps of street arts around me…..

  30. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such amazing street art…evidently, I need to get out more, sigh.

    Fantastic post, I’ll enjoy viewing vicariously through your blog…praises for Freshly Pressed for bringing such great blogs to the forefront.

  31. Those are so cool.

    The only time I wished I had a camera the entire time I was in Europe was when I walked by a callbox (the one with the buttons you ring to get in an apartment) on the way to my program headquarters: it was a little tin multicolored box in a doorway, and someone had written on it in sharpie. The translation is roughly “existing isn’t living.”

    Also those 3D murals are trippy, even when I know the holes aren’t real I’m absolutely sure I’m going to fall down them.

  32. street art alone is already amazing, but politicalally/emotionally based street art is so much more powerful and it is an extremely powerful expression of ‘speech’. I love the post, it’s so freaking amazing. I look forward to more.



  33. Dang, THis is Freshly Pressed FOR REAL! I never really saw who was on freshly pressed! But today had to be thAT day bCUZ I saw your “FRESHLY PRESSED” BLog…FOre Reall,!!! AMAZING! I love Graff.. I Love ART So much….I love how these paintings were from out of city, state, etc. etc. LOVE PEACE!!!!!!! AND ART!!!!!!!

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  35. This was an interesting read, accompanied by some beautiful pictures. Unfortunately, not all ‘graffiti’ is street art, which is quite despicable. However, when people really take their time and actually make art, not just scrawl an illegible mark on a surface, amazing things can be made.

  36. I really like this dude, I have family in Bristol, UK. Which is where Banksy is originally from, and all the graffiti artist’s there despise him, because he’s made such a limelight that the others don’t get recognised.
    Another huge graff artist coming out these days is TOX

    All the way from Birmingham to Brighton on the train there is TOX 09, TOX 10, TOX 11. Appropriate to the year of the tag. Very basic but nation famous now!

    Again, Love the blog.

  37. Pingback: Enrichment: Street Art, Graffiti Culture, Public Expression | AP LANGUAGE @ MHS 2012

  38. Did you have a chance to go to Madrid? There you can really see the frustration of people filling whole neighborhoods with pieces criticizing everything from local politics to global warming.
    Nice post. Banksy rules.
    Perfect love!

  39. Beautiful street art. I like the image with the little girl and the red balloon it reminds me of some of the famous graffiti in Chernobyl. Did you know that Keith Haring also did some amazing graffiti art?

  40. Excellent range of art displayed here. I really enjoyed seeing the diversity of styles.
    Banksy is pretty amazing, but I also love that head with the owl. Marvellous.

  41. Fabulous! I have been a Banksy fan for a while now. I watched Exit Through The Gift Shop, eagerly awaiting the piece on banksy, but alas never made it. I did watch another great documentary on Graffiti artists called “Bomb It’ which I found fabulously interesting. I will have to take another shot at Exit Through The Gift Shop. Great post! Congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  42. I absolutely loved this post! Interesting, intriging, and very powerful. In fact, your entire blog site is just fascinating. The graffiti that you’ve captured speaks volumes about the stories the artists were trying to portray. You’re an excellent photographer with a beautiful, beautiful spirit. I have signed up to follow your blog because I can’t wait to see what you discover in the future. Bravo!
    From, a storyteller that recognizes another storyteller when I encounter them.

  43. love your post. street art is nice because it is free and it speaks really big volumes. if you like street art i have a bunch of posts on my blog from art in the streets LA MOCA exhibit that took place in august. A lot of banksy, krink, obey, etc. Nice post and congrats on freshly pressed

  44. I find Banksy’s art on the Israeli West Bank barrier particularly relevant considering the current Palestinian bid for full membership at the UN!

  45. I really like this post, and I’m thankful for it. I recently blogged with some pictures I took in Oklahoma City, and one was a picture of some graffiti done by Xvala. I commented that I didn’t really understand this famous graffiti artist thing, but since then I’ve educated myself a little more on it, and have come to appreciate it more. And not to think of it as just vandalism. Taggers give graffiti artists a really bad name, and where I live there is tagging everywhere, which makes the cities look trashy. But true graffiti artists can make even the ugliest cities look beautiful. Thanks for posting such wonderful pictures. I wish there was more of this sort of art where I lived.

    • Melbourne is also replete with “street art” and has given me a new appreciation for the difference between destructive tagging and constructive art. I too wish that street art was more encouraged as a positive outlet for graffitist…

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