Though I’m a longtime fan of his street art, I’ve never really been able to tell how firmly Banksy’s tongue is planted in his cheek. On the one hand, it’s impossible to be a street artist whose work is selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars and not be slightly betraying the anarchic nature of graffiti and street art to some degree, but, on the other hand, if I drew a stencil of a girl with a balloon and was offered several years’ worth of my current salary for it, I’d totally take it.
That said, street art is not now and never has been confined solely to the anonymous leviathan we know as Banksy, and regardless of whether you think he’s awesome or, as writer Charlie Brooker put it, “a guffhead of massive proportions” whose “work looks dazzlingly clever to idiots,” there are a ton of other awesome street artists out there from all around the world who’ve done some incredible work. Here are some of them.
1. King Robbo
If we’re talking about Banksy, we’ve got to talk about King Robbo, another London street artist who’s, unfortunately, probably best known for his feud with Banksy. Robbo claims to have slapped Banksy when Banksy dismissed him as a nobody, and in 2009 Banksy painted over one of Robbo’s oldest, best-known works, only to have Robbo paint over that, only to have Banksy paint over that. Here’s the progression:Many of Banksy’s other works have been defaced by Robbo’s supporters, known as “Team Robbo.” Unfortunately, in 2011, King Robbo suffered a fall that put him in a coma. He’s since woken up, but he still has serious injuries. As a Robbo tribute, Banksy painted this (until it’s again inevitably defaced) final iteration of the feud:
2. Miss Van
Miss Van is known for her surreal compositions and her burlesque-y, mask-wearing female characters.
If you’ve been to Paris, you’ve almost certainly passed any number of Invader pieces. The man has been everywhere, apparently. He’s probably best known to the wider public from his role in Banksy’s documentary, Exit Through the Gift Shop, where he’s shown as the cousin of Thierry Guetta, aka the artist Mr. Brainwash. Invader’s method is using tiny mosaic pieces to make portraits that look like 8-bit video game characters, oftentimes from the game “Space Invaders.” He regularly posts new pieces on his Instagram page.
Moving to the other side of the Atlantic, Gaia is a younger artist based out of Baltimore. He’s particularly awesome because he’s a legit artist and not just a street-cred-hungry graffito (not that there’s anything wrong with graffitos). It also means he tends to work on commissions and public murals. I’m a little bit biased — he’s in my neck of the woods.
I first became familiar with Blu while living in Buenos Aires. Blu is originally from Italy but has done murals practically everywhere, and he’s truly incredible. Here’s one of his cooler works that I’ve seen, done in Buenos Aires:
ROA is another artist dear to my heart because of the work he did in London’s East End while I was living there, though he’s originally from Ghent, Belgium. ROA tends to do paintings of somewhat creepy animals in public places, and, on occasion, does longer installments where he’ll paint the bones first and then will paint over them until he has a full painting of the animals. Here are a few he’s done:
7. Alice Pasquini
Alice Pasquini is an artist from Rome who’s challenging pop-culture representations of femininity.
8. David Choe
LA-based street artist David Choe has a hell of a story: He’s been doing street art forever but made his money when he was commissioned by Sean Parker and Mark Zuckerberg to create murals for Facebook’s headquarters. Because of a gambling habit, he asked to be paid in stock and is now worth $200 million. He now also hosts the podcast DVDASA with pornstar Asa Akira. Also, his artwork is pretty sick. You might recognize his work from the album cover for Jay-Z and Linkin Park’s Collision Course.
Saner is based out of Mexico but has done exhibitions all over the place. I honestly can’t find a ton of information on him, but I know if I were to pass his work in the street, I’d stop and look.
Faith47 is a self-taught artist based out of Cape Town, South Africa, and she does some absolutely killer murals.
11. La Pandilla
La Pandilla is a Puerto Rico-based duo, and their work — mostly of bizarre animal hybrids — is just incredibly awesome.
Stinkfish is based out of Bogota, Colombia, and does incredibly colorful, psychedelic portraits all over the world.
13. Lady Aiko
Born in Japan, Lady Aiko has lived and worked in New York since the ’90s. Her work combines a contemporary American art influence with Japanese artistic traditions.