Street Art is an essential part of contemporary art

Every wall, street corner, building, or any flat surface in public places is the canvas of street artists.

As its name implies, Street Art is the art that can be found only in the streets. Many people do not recognize street art as an art form; instead, it is commonly associated with vandalism. 

Street art and graffiti art are related only in the sense that they are created in public areas. Street artists typically work in studios. They also work and hold gallery exhibits in creative spaces. 

Street art is not in any way anti-art. Street art artists love the freedom of working in public places without having to be judged and worry about what other people think or say. 

Street art artists often try to leave messages of their feelings, emotions, political issues, and more. Their art is exposed in the streets for everyone to love, enjoy, and evaluate. Street artists are often anonymous. 

Street Art was initially painted with aerosol paint, but street artists today use a lot of techniques. 

What is Street Art?

Street art is defined as any form of art displayed in a public space and is viewed and enjoyed in the streets instead of in traditional art galleries.

Public murals are the most popular types of street art. Murals are typically painted on the sides of buildings and open walls. Street artists are often commissioned by local organizations, brands, companies, or the city government. 

Graffiti and street art are somewhat similar. Graffiti is, in fact, a type of street art. Many people and artistic circles often use graffiti and street art interchangeably. 

The difference between graffiti and street art became more distinct during the 1970s and 1980s when rising street artists wanted to differentiate their work from graffiti. Many of the earliest street artists, particularly muralists, started as graffiti artists and drew inspiration from graffiti. 

Street art and its many sanctioned forms are more legitimate and socially accepted than graffiti. Graffiti, however, is considered a type of street art. 

The Beginnings of Street Art

Graffiti was the earliest form of street art. Graffiti was the work of gangsters in New York in the 1920s and 1930s. Graffiti showed up on street walls and train cars. 

The subversive culture of street art was highly felt in the 1970s and 1980s and became its turning point. During these decades, young people created a movement to respond to their political and social environment. 

In the next couple of years, street art gained the attention of art enthusiasts and people associated with the art scene. Inevitably, street art became one of the elements of contemporary art. 

Types of Street Art

Street artists thrive on filling the streets with life through their imagination and creativity. Street art is visible around the world. While there are some known artists associated with street art, other talented artists prefer to remain unknown. 

Many people think that street art only pertains to spray paint art and wall painting. The truth is, there are many different types of street art visible across urban streets. 


Graffiti is one of the earliest and most popular street art done on walls. Graffiti is used to send a message or just to make a wall look more appealing. Graffiti traces its origin to the ancient Greek and Egyptian era. 

Spray Paint Murals

Many street artists execute their work directly on walls using spray paint. These are murals, and they typically represent the abstract ideas of an artist. Murals make walls look cool. Some of them even look realistic. 

Poster art

Poster art is a 2D drawing done on paper or printed. Posters are created using the calligraphic and creative painting skills of the artists. These posters are then hung vertically or attached to walls. Artists today create poster arts using computer tools and printing them on paper. 

Sideway chalk art

These are realistic images created by talented artists on sidewalks. You may see an actual baby crawling on the street but if you take a closer look, you will discover that it is only a piece of art created on the sidewalk. Fake potholes, which people often avoid for fear of falling into it, are typical sidewalk art. 

Sticker street art

Some artists have taken to the streets their childhood habit of sticking stickers in books and anywhere. They create unique stickers and stick them out on the streets in walls, lampposts, benches, and trees. Some stickers can be easily removed, and others are permanent. 

3D Wall Graffiti

This is one of the most popular types of street art. The artwork is created in such a way that the subjects are popping out of the wall.  


These are 3D structures displayed on the streets. Sculptures are made through carving, casting, and modeling. Artists use sharp tools to carve in different materials such as wood, stones, and bones. Most street art sculptures have religious, political, and historical connections. 

Most Popular Street Art Pieces

Unlike many artists that use canvasses, a street artist has the world as his canvas!

Spy Booth Mural by Banksy

The Spy Booth shows spies of the 1950s prying on a phone booth. This street art aims at making a mockery of Britain's government surveillance. 

The Spy Booth appeared on the side of the property of David Posse in Fair View Road in Cheltenham, United Kingdom. This property is about three miles from the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in 2014 in Cheltenham, United Kingdom. 

Banksy is an activist and contemporary British street artist. Despite being an internationally renowned artist, he has kept his identity anonymous. 

Banksy EU Flag Mural in Dover

This mural was done in the sidewall of a building. It first appeared in 2017. The mural shows a man up on a ladder chipping off one golden star of the EU flag. This mural was painted off in 2019 under strange circumstances. 

Hanksy Trump

After Donald Trump announced he would run for the President of the United States in 2015, Hanksy painted a mural of Trump depicting him as a cartoon pile of feces. The Huffington Post called this piece of street art Tronald Dump. 

Hanksy is a parodist and remains anonymous as a graffiti artist based in New York. He derived his name from his most famous parodies, a combination of the actor Tom Hanks' face and the pieces of Banksy, a British graffiti artist. 

Chuuuttt !!! by Jef Aerosol

Chuuuttt! is a large stencil drawn on a building gable, the portion of a wall between the edges of interconnecting roof pitches. The building overlooks the Stravinsky Fountain, between Beaubourg's Centre Pompidou and St-Merry Church in France. 

Chuuuttt! is a self-portrait done by Jef Aerosol in 2011 in partnership with the Pompidou Centre. This piece of art invites passersby to chill and have a moment of silence to take a break from the never-ending urban noise. It also aimed to promote contemporary art in Paris.  

Girl with Balloon by Banksy

Girl with Balloon was created by Banksy using the graffiti stencil technique. This is one of his most important works. This Banksy piece was first seen in 2002 on the side of the Waterloo Bridge in London. 

Girl with Balloon depicts a little girl in a black dress releasing her Balloon. Banksy wrote at the back of the girl, "There is always hope," which is a sign of optimism and rising above hard times. 

Girl with a Balloon became one of the most controversial street art pieces in 2018. As is typical with Banksy, this street art offers an emotional, political and social commentary. 

Space Invader by Invader

Franck Slama, more popularly known as Invader, is a street artist who used to play a lot of Space Invader, an arcade game popular in the 1980s. He loved the game so much; he even felt sad for the invaders and aliens that had been stuck inside the computer screen. His Space Invader mosaic and about 1,300 other invaders have been secretly stuck on all types of buildings, walls, or any flat space in Paris for the last 20 years. 

He mounted his first work near Place de la Bastille in 1996 and has since been sticking his mosaics in street corners. Invader remains anonymous because he hides his face with masks to keep his privacy. 

Nobody Likes Me by iHeart.

Nobody Likes Me can be found in Stanley Park in Vancouver. It was created by iHeart, a Canadian artist. This artwork has gained worldwide attention and has even caught the fancy of Banksy. 

Nobody Likes Me shows a modern boy whaling because no one likes him on social media. This artwork is part of the artists' A Sign of the Times project, inspired by social media. 

iHeart says this artwork is a symbolic reminder of how people want their existence to be validated online. iHeart says Vancouver was the perfect home of this street art because it is a creative, dynamic, and young city but is highly distracted. 

Final Thoughts

Every wall, street corner, building, or any flat surface in public places is the canvas of street artists. Street Art is more than an artistic expression or a movement. It is an essential part of contemporary art. 

Street art is typical in urban areas. It is somewhat connected to graffiti but is not limited to spray paint. 

People leaving their mark on walls has been around for thousands of years. Graffiti etched on walls has been found in the city of Pompeii. Contemporary street art has been used to convey social and political messages.