Street art communicates with everyone. In many cases, you don’t need to be an art expert or have a degree in art history to understand what street artists are telling us. That’s what makes this medium so relatable—and so popular! Some of these artists are locally known while others have garnered worldwide acclaim. We’ve put together a list of famous street artists whose works are worth seeking when visiting cities across the globe.
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If you live in a big city, you’ve probably seen street art, whether it’s graffiti from an aspiring muralist or a piece by one of the greats. Let’s Roam can help you find the best samples hidden in plain sight! We’ll guide you on scavenger and mural hunts all over the world. Just download the app, choose a city, and make memories!
20 Famous Street Artists
1. Banksy (Bristol, England)
Banksy’s work brings many social and political issues to light. As a result, many of his pieces have been the target of vandals. Some have been removed for unrelated reasons. Those that remain are highly sought after. Our New Orleans Art Walk features one of just two murals remaining in The Big Easy.
After years of speculation, the true identity of this street art superstar is still unknown. From Robert Del Naja (a.k.a. 3D) of Massive Attack to Jamie Hewlett, British comic book artist and designer—theories abound!
One thing that isn’t up for debate is that his influence on street art has been remarkable! He’s even been nominated for an Oscar for the 2010 film “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” (In true Banksy fashion, he requested to attend the award ceremony incognito. His request was denied.)
2. Cornbread (Philadelphia, USA)
Darryl McCray signed his work “Cornbread.” He has been active in Philadelphia since the 1960s, when he started painting graffiti art with his friends, a movement that spread to New York and across the Atlantic to Europe. He even won the heart of a childhood love by expressing his interest in the form of tags all over Philly.
This clever street artist took his talents from criminal to crime-fighting by working with the Philadelphia Anti-Graffiti Network to help clean up city streets while encouraging artistic expression in the form of murals. To this day, he works with city youth and has become a voice for those who often feel voiceless.
3. Roa (Ghent, Belgium)
Roa has mastered his craft in cities across the continents of Europe, North America, Australia, and Africa, making him one of the most widely famous street artists on our list. His style is recognizable as vibrant black and white paintings of birds and animals that are native to the area in which he paints.
He is very private and lives his personal life is under a veil of secrecy. His paintings are very intimate, considering the fact that they are large and out in the open for all to see. Roa’s topics are often described as a combination of life, death, and life after death.
4. DAZE (New York, USA)
From subway cars in the 1970s to art galleries around the world, this American artist has come a long way. He is one of the pioneers of street art, along with Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring.
The work of DAZE is featured in the Brooklyn Museum, the Groninger Museum, the Museum of the City of New York, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Along with his friend and business partner John “Crash” Matos, he served as an inspiration for a series called “The Get Down” on Netflix.
5. Gaia (New York, USA)
Andrew Pisacane was born in 1988 in New York City and has a degree in Fine Arts from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. He is a remarkable artist with a specific style and topics that describe political, environmental, and social problems, including the human path to destruction.
His provoking work has been featured in numerous exhibits and museums across the United States and internationally. Some of the places you can see his murals in the U.S. are NYC, Baltimore, New Jersey, Washington D.C, and Chicago.
6. DONDI (New York, USA)
Donald Joseph White, like many other famous street artists, began his career by painting subway trains. He had a unique writing style and his work was widely recognized. While some individuals opted to remain anonymous and use cryptic tags, he didn’t shy away from his craft. In the 70s, during a major crackdown on graffiti artists, the daring DONDI painted a large piece on his own roof.
For years, White worked with other artists, serving as a standard for street style. His work was suggestive but also had an obvious message attached to it. His brilliant series “Children of the Grave” was inspired by the Black Sabbath song. Sadly, his own life was cut short when he passed away at the age of 37.
7. SpY (Madrid, Spain)
SpY introduced himself to the graffiti art scene in the mid-80s but expanded to other mediums as time went on. He uses the surroundings in his work and loves to surprise a viewer with hidden messages. He incorporates common elements and transforms them in such a way that they become statements.
Although his urban art is usually located in European countries including France, Germany, Spain, Russia, Norway, and others, his work has been included in many publications and exhibits throughout the world.
8. Tracy 168 (New York, USA)
Michael Tracy, also known as Tracy 168, is a legendary Brooklyn and Bronx artist active since the 1970s. He mentored and collaborated with many other artists, including Keith Haring and SAMO.
To him, graffiti and the established art world have an unsettled relationship that he wants to express in his unique style. As a pioneer of Wild Style, he urged artists to be themselves. You can look for his murals in Brooklyn and the Bronx.
9. Natalia Rak (Lodz, Poland)
Natalia Rak, recognized simply as “Rak,” is an international muralist, painter, and designer. She started her career in Poland but quickly became popular in other countries. Contrary to the typical career of a famous street artist, Rak started on canvas before moving to street art.
Known for her multistory murals, she travels the world to paint brightly colored, larger-than-life pieces on public spaces. Her subjects are mostly women or two figures like “Adam and Eve,” and are often realistic but surrounded by a mystical world. In the US you can see her murals in Napa, California, and Providence, Rhode Island.
10. Lady Pink (New York, USA)
Lady Pink is an Ecuadorian-American feminist graffiti artist based in NYC. Her work features messages that empower women. The murals are colorful and feature famous people, animals, social motives, and more.
This street artist was nicknamed “the first lady of graffiti” because she was the first active female artist in the early 80s. Later she had her own all-female crew and was featured in many publications and galleries like the Whitney Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of New York City, the Brooklyn Museum, and more.
11. Jean-Michel Basquiat
SAMO© was a tag used from 1978 to 1980 by Jean-Michel Basquiat, and later in collaboration with his friend Al Diaz. Jean-Michel Basquiat was very early recognized as an important voice of the urban art world.
In the early 1980s, his paintings were already in galleries internationally. He was the youngest artist to have an exhibit at Whitney Biennale in New York and, since then, has served as an inspiration to contemporary artists worldwide. In his short life, he reached countless people with his prolific work, before passing away at just 27 years of age.
Details of Basquiat’s life were documented in the film “Boom for Real: The Late Teenager Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat,” by Sara Driver.
12. Vhils (Lisbon, Portugal)
Alexandre Manuel Dias Farto, tag name Vhils, is a famous Portuguese street artist. His specific style of faces carved into walls gained popularity when it was part of the Cans Festival in London in 2008 alongside Banksy. He is based in Lisbon and London but has worked all over the world, from Hong Kong to Spain.
His work and unique approach to art has been shown in solo and group exhibitions in over 30 countries. Some of the galleries that featured his work were Centre Pompidou (Paris), Barbican Centre (London), the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (San Diego), and many more.
13. Keith Haring (New York, USA)
Keith Allen Haring was an American artist whose art had an enormous influence on pop art and culture. He spoke about AIDS awareness, safe sex, and social problems through his work. His art was part of the Whitney Biennial in New York, the São Paulo Biennial, and the Venice Biennale.
Except for the commissioned murals in the 80s he also painted numerous artworks on the walls of schools, hospitals, and daycare centers. He was so popular that even mainstream media had issues dedicated to him, including Vanity Fair and Newsweek.
14. ETAM Cru (Lodz, Poland)
Sainer and Bezt are a duo that creates amazing art pieces on the sides of the buildings. They work all over Eastern Europe, but also in countries around the world, including the USA, Portugal, Germany, etc. In the US you can see their work “Moonshine” in Richmond, Virginia.
This duo uses mysticism and folkloric symbols in their paintings, often making it seem like a piece of an urban fairy tale. Their paintings are realistic and colorful, to catch the eye of a viewer.
15. Shepard Fairey (Los Angeles, USA)
Frank Shepard Fairey is a contemporary street artist, a political activist, and so much more. Two of his most famous works are “Andre the Giant” and a poster called “Hope,” featuring Barak Obama during the presidential election in 2008. The poster was used as a cover of Times Magazine for the person of the year in 2008
Fairey also created environmental activist Greta Thunberg’s portrait for the cover of Rolling Stone’s special Climate Crisis issue. He now lives in Los Angeles continuing his creative work as a designer and founder of the clothing company (OBEY),
16. Swoon (New York, USA)
Caledonia Curry, who also goes by the name Swoon, was the first female street artist to accomplish international recognition. Swoon was the name of her first New York solo exhibition in 2005, when she painted the interior walls of the gallery for the exhibit. Since then she has been included in many international museums and galleries.
Her art is also her activism and she expresses her concerns for communities hit by natural disasters, violence, and addiction. Her work includes contemporary sculpture, murals, installations, animation, and more.
17. INTI (Valparaíso, Chile)
INTI is a Chilean artist famous for his large murals that describe Latin American culture very vividly in bright warm colors and mysterious energy. The name INTI means Incan sun, this way he wanted to honor his Chilean roots.
His themes are life, death, religion, music, and everything else that makes Latin American culture closer to the international audience. Except for Chile, you can see his murals in Norway, Belgium, the USA, Turkey, and many more countries.
18. OSGEMEOS (Sao Paulo, Brazil)
“Os gemeos” is Portuguese for “the twins.” Otavio Pandolfo and Gustavo Pandolfo are identical twins famous, across the world, for their paintings and murals. Their dream-like style was described as “escapist fantasies.” It includes patterns, cartoon-looking characters, and illustrations.
This duo’s characters are often painted with yellow skin, and their murals and tags comment on political and social life in Brazil. Their murals have a lot of folklore and cultural subject matter showing their Brazilian heritage.
19. NEVERCREW (Lugano, Switzerland)
Christian Rebecchi and Pablo Togni are a Swiss duo known by the name of NEVERCREW. Their work ranges from street art and murals to installations and sculptures. The main topic of their work is a correlation between humans and nature.
Their hyperrealistic style points to social issues, ecology, and the reality of this world. Over the last twenty years of their collaboration, they painted walls of New Delhi, Manchester, Lucerne, Vancouver, Cairo, Rochester, Miami, Los Angeles, Phoenix, and other cities.
20. Tavar Zawacki ABOVE (San Francisco, USA)
Tavar Zawacki is an American abstract artist and muralist that lives and works between Berlin and Bali. When he was 19 years old he traveled to Paris to start his career. Up until 2017, he signed his work only with the pseudonym ABOVE, but in 2017 he decided to come out of anonymity.
His style is described as geometric, hard-edge, and very abstract. In his more than 20 years-long career his work was presented in over 100 cities in 30 plus countries in the world. He was often featured and interviewed by mainstream media and is well-known for his unique style.
Street artists, whether famous or not, have influenced so much of our culture. They’ve used their talent to speak up for issues and many have successfully ignited change.
How many murals do you think you can spot in your city? Download the Let’s Roam scavenger hunt app and go on a hunt in your nearest city.
Let us know about your favorite artists and art pieces in the comments!
Frequently Asked Questions
Who are some of the most famous street artists?
This list of famous street artists includes street artists in the U.S. and worldwide.
How can I find street art near me?
Let’s Roam offers scavenger hunts, including art walks and mural hunts, in cities across the globe. Download the scavenger hunt app, search for cities near you, and get ready to make memories.
Do any street artists exhibit art in galleries?
Some of the most famous street artists, such as Swoon, DAZE, Vhils, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, have worked on canvas and in multiple mediums and have exhibited works in galleries throughout the world.
1. Banksy, The Little Girl with the Balloon. He is the most famous street artist in the world. The anonymous Banksy has been creating works of art all over the world for more than 23 years.Who are some well known street artists? ›
Some of the most famous street artists, such as Swoon, DAZE, Vhils, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, have worked on canvas and in multiple mediums and have exhibited works in galleries throughout the world.Who is considered the most famous graffiti artist of all time? ›
Banksy is arguably the most famous graffiti artist of all time and he's broken more barriers for the art form than anyone else has. So at the number one spot, we have the most famous graffiti artist's most famous graffiti artwork of all time – Balloon Girl.Who started graffiti? ›
In 1965, Darryl “Cornbread” McCray, now widely considered the world's first modern graffiti artist, was a 12-year-old troublemaker housed at Philadelphia's Youth Development Center (YDC). As you may have guessed, McCray loved cornbread.Who is the richest graffiti in the world? ›
David Choe: $300 million (£248.7m)
He essentially became unfathomably rich overnight. Today, he's estimated to be worth around $300 million (£248.7m), making him the richest street artist in the world – and then some. From street art to fine art: discover the world's most expensive paintings.
1. New York, USA. New York has produced influential graffiti and street artists over the decades. It was born in New York City during the 1970s, a time when the city was bankrupt and wracked by crime.Why is it called graffiti? ›
"Graffiti" (usually both singular and plural) and the rare singular form "graffito" are from the Italian word graffiato ("scratched"). The term "graffiti" is used in art history for works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface.What are street artists called? ›
A street artist is a person who makes art in public places. Street artists include portrait artists, caricaturists, graffiti artists, muralists and people making crafts. Street artists can also refer to street performers such as musicians, acrobats, jugglers, living statues, and street theatre performers.Who is the most famous modern artist? ›
- Claude Monet.
- Vincent Van Gogh.
- Pablo Picasso.
- Marcel Duchamp.
- Salvador Dalí
- Jackson Pollock.
- Andy Warhol.
Generally, only the most talented graffiti artists will make enough money to actually live on, while others will often need to find other employment to supplement their art career.
Banksy is commonly believed to be Robin Gunningham, as first identified by The Mail on Sunday in 2008, born on 28 July 1973 in Yate, 12 miles (19 km) from Bristol.What is the difference between street art and graffiti? ›
Street art is usually painted with permission or commissioned. Graffiti (left) is word-based, whereas Street Art (right) is image-based. “Graffiti art”, if one had to, would be the name Stavsky gives to the two form's artistic overlap.Where are famous stars of the street art world from? ›
- Roa : Ghent Belgium. ...
- Gaia : New York City. ...
- Spy : Madrid, Spain. ...
- Natalia Rak: Poland. ...
- Oakoak: Saint-Étienne, France. ...
- Vhils : Lisbon, Portugal. ...
- ETAM Cru: Poland. ...
- Swoon: New London, Connecticut.
1. Banksy. Evidently, we cannot approach the street art subject without talking about Banksy. Mixing politics, humour and poetry through stencils of children, soldiers and even monkeys, Banksy's murals have become an essential reference for every street artist.Where is street art most popular? ›
1. New York, USA. New York has produced influential graffiti and street artists over the decades. It was born in New York City during the 1970s, a time when the city was bankrupt and wracked by crime.What are street artists called? ›
A street artist is a person who makes art in public places. Street artists include portrait artists, caricaturists, graffiti artists, muralists and people making crafts. Street artists can also refer to street performers such as musicians, acrobats, jugglers, living statues, and street theatre performers.