Global Graffiti: 6 Controversial Creators of Recurring Street Art from Around the World

Guest article by Gale White

Graffiti has long been considered by governments and local officials worldwide as somewhat of a nuisance. This phenomenon, which seems to be evident in just about every city around the world, has grown from a sub-cultural staple of the New York hip hop movement to become an unavoidable part of everyday life. There are literally hundreds of underground artists who regularly share their work in full view on buildings and structures; often much to the chagrin of the authorities. For this reason, the artist(s) remain anonymous. This element of mystery, coupled with their signature tags and paintings that crop-up multiple times in multiple locations, only leads to more intrigue and public interest. To give you a feel, some of the most prominent of these spray can-toting enigmas are listed here.


(Images: LindsayT; pellesten; Stew Dean; Augapfel; cc-3.0)

These rather ambiguous but fun yellow fists can be seen all over the city of Istanbul, Turkey. While it’s not immediately apparent what they mean, the nature of the fists indicates some sort of bold socio-political statement. Either that or he/she is merely having a laugh. Whatever the intention, it’s clear that these are meant to be noticed and raise a few question marks amongst onlookers. Not a lot is known about Kripoe but then that is no surprise due to the nature of his work.


(Images: bixentro (1, 2); erokism; cc-3.0)

Sickboy, a graffiti artist originally from Bristol, moved to London in 2007. He is renowned for being the first street artist to use a logo instead of a tagline, and is associated with his “save the youth” slogans – more prominently his “temple” logo. Most of his works can be found in the East End boroughs of London. Perhaps the most infamous artist on the list, he is trained in fine art and several of his paintings on canvas have sold for over £50,000. Sickboy’s temple logo has also been appearing on wheelie bins of late. Whether this is a new initiative to go mobile with his work remains to be seen.


(Images: grahamc99 (1, 2); erokism; cc-3.0)

Blu is an Italian artist from Bologna. He adapted the use of house paint in his works which gave them more surface area to project his message. His typically large, human images can be seen on the sides of houses and other buildings. His work portrays an air of sarcasm and comedy and his paintings can be seen all around the world.


(Images: Wallulua Junction; Lord Jim (1, 2); bixentro; cc-3.0)

D*Face is an artist from London who typically uses “in your face” images, many of which border on the absurd. His images generally contain wings coming out of the heads of famous people and fictional characters. Amongst those to get D*Faced (pardon the horrible pun) are the Queen, Marilyn Monroe and Captain America. The artist also has a bit of a mischievous nature which revealed itself one New Years Day when he wrote the words “Call In Sick” over three giant billboards.

Cyclops and Sweet Toof

(Images: Matt from London; Death Waltz Recording Co. (1, 2), cc-3.0)

This duo is made up of an English man (Sweet Toof) who for over 20 years has been sharing his obsession with teeth and gums on the buildings around the UK. He joined forces with a French street artist (Cyclops) and the partnership has grown from strength to strength. These large toothy gums as well as big tired-eyed skulls can be seen on subway cars, construction sites and water tanks. As well as the UK, their work has been found in Italy, Japan and Spain.


(Images: Metro Centric (1, 2); kouk; cc-3.0)

Perhaps one of the worst sufferers of the global economic climate, Athens certainly isn’t the most stable of cities in the world. Much of that feeling of social unrest can be found in Sidron’s art that pertains to images of people wearing gasmasks. Many of the characters have been fashioned like animations from a comic book, adding to the apparent punk-like ethos.

Thanks to Gale White from PrinterInks for sourcing the images and contributing to this article.

Keep reading – browse more works of Graffiti and Urban Street Art on our Tag page, and check out this Light Graffiti Art in an Abandoned Wine Cellar.


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