10 Most Famous Graffiti Artists of All Time
January 09 2023 – Dervis Akdemir
Street art and graffiti deeply influenced urban culture and impacted contemporary art history. It assisted the rise of the pop art movement and altered the modern perception of art. Unlike the previous art movements, street art wasn't born out of wealthy individuals commissioning the finest masterpieces; it was born into the lower classes.
Graffiti was initially a way to express oneself, be heard by crowds and advocate freedom of expression. The first graffiti artists used streets and public buildings as canvases to convey their messages while rebelling against society's standards regarding art.
Although these first artists promoted the protestive aspect of graffiti, today's street art is about more than just protesting and reaction; it's also about aesthetics. Today, many street artists use graffiti to demonstrate their talents and earn more fame. And if you want to learn more about this form of art, then let's discover the ten most famous graffiti artists of all time!
Top 10 Graffiti Artists
- Tracy 168
- Lady K
Born in 1953, Darryl "Cornbread" McCray was one of the first American graffiti artists. He started tagging in Philadelphia during the 60s, and his works helped tagging gain popularity. At first, this practice was only about writing the artist's nickname on the walls of public buildings. Yet it slowly became a form of art.
Cornbread had already made a reputation by tagging subways in the 60s, yet he gained even more notoriety when he broke into the Philadelphia Zoo and sprayed "Cornbread Lives" on an elephant. His style slowly spread to other American cities. Once graffiti caught up in New York, many young urban artists grew interested in this new art form.
Chris "Daze" Ellis was one of the pioneers of American street art. He started his graffiti career in 1976 when he was 14 and never stopped painting. Over the following decades, Daze painted hundreds of subway cars, leaving his mark everywhere in New York. He displayed some of his works in an exhibition, Beyond World, in 1981.
After this initial exhibition, Daze began working in the gallery space and abandoned the street. In the following decades, Daze continued to participate in many displays and exhibit his work in international showings. Today, Daze continues his work as an artist and makes new pieces.
Since the beginning of his career in 2010, Klops has been travelling around the world to make graffiti. From Latin America to Europe, Klops visited many countries and built a demonstrated career as a street artist. He is best known for his unique style combining different techniques and employing pop art images to spread his message.
The artist believes art should be a way to express oneself and convey a message. Klops' artworks promote a strong message of freedom of expression and social inequality. He paints to praise the everyday human who tries to survive; his art stands against the "elite," who, unlike ordinary people, can express themselves with high-budget Hollywood blockbusters and expensive works.
4. Tracy 168
If we asked you to think of graffiti, you would probably think of a hard-to-read text involving overlapping letters and shapes. This form of graffiti is Wildstyle, one of the most classical forms of graffiti art, and the person who made it famous was Tracy 168, one of the most famous American street artists of all time.
Tracy 168 was born Michael Tracy in 1958 in New York City. His interest in street art and talent to successfully practice it earned him the title of one of the most influential street artists. He mentored and trained numerous street artists and created the technique known as Wildstyle, which quickly caught up among street artists.
Despite not having widespread fame like some artists we mentioned so far, Horfe, with his unique style, became one of the masters of graffiti art. Today, his creative works ornament many walls in his home country France, the US and throughout Europe. The artist's pieces mostly depict creative scenes with various elements and figures interacting. He combines typography and illustration to create his unique technique.
A member of Russia's most notorious street art gang OSM, Wekman has been a member of the graffiti scene for many years. He is one of the most prolific street artists with his simple but effective style. Wekman has a YouTube channel named TagMachine and regularly posts videos of himself tagging, reviewing graffiti and informing his viewers about street art. Although he isn't as famous as American graffiti artists, his works decorate public walls in Russia.
7. Lady K
One of the most famous women street artists, Lady K, started her career in the 90s. Although she liked painting as a child, she got interested in graffiti art after reading several magazines and pieces about prominent street artists. Throughout the first years of her work, she used various nicknames until she decided to go with Lady K.
Starting his career in Helsinki to earn worldwide fame, Egs had an undisputable influence on the European graffiti scene. He was one of the first members of the graffiti InterRail movement and travelled the entire Europe to explore new cities, which served as canvases for his art. Egs made friends with many other influential street artists and his style constantly developed.
One of the most influential street artists, Kaws began his career as a graffiti artist. After graduation, the artist worked as an animator for Disney; in this period, he painted graffiti only as a hobby. However, his interest and skill in street art made him famous, and he started to receive commissions from different cities worldwide.
Kaws travelled to various countries and created numerous artworks, including sculptures, digital paintings, and street art. Kaws' pieces have also appeared in many exhibitions. Today, Kaws continues his work in the US.
Katsu is an inventive and creative member of the graffiti scene. He rose to prominence due to his distinct style and innovative tactics. Among these methods was a mobile app he created to use remote-controlled drones to create graffiti. Katsu's pieces frequently criticised the internet for abusing privacy for profit.
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