Art 101

Art Style Education: Street Art 101

At iCanvas, we want to make appreciating art easy and fun for everyone. This blog series is designed for art lovers of all backgrounds to shed any fear, get equipped with the basics, and feel empowered to appreciate various art styles and movements. 

Street art is everywhere. Some call it vandalism, others a statement. Whatever you think, we’re here to properly acquaint you with the bold, edgy and powerful world of street art, graffiti art, and their humble beginnings.

What is Street Art?

“Leaving your mark” has long been a desire of humanity. From drawings on the walls of Pompeii to initials carved into trees to spray-painted messaging on your local overpass, you can witness it everywhere. Today, whether it’s to cause a reaction or inspire discussion, street art is designed to serve as a creative commentary on societal issues big and small. 

Creating art on sidewalks, walls, buildings and beyond, street artists often have the intent of connecting with passersby and making them think. Often found in urban areas, their work not only makes a statement but meets people where they are and demands their attention. 

Evolving from being considered the “work of gangs” in 1920s-1930s New York, artists like Banksy, Vhils and BLU have broken down barriers when it comes to perspectives on the creators behind the work. Rather than vandals or rebels, they have established themselves as artists and activists using creative expression to inspire, critique and connect.

What is Graffiti Art?

Graffiti, on the other hand, is considered the foundation for what street art has become in modern times. According to The Art Story, “modern graffiti did not begin as an art form at all, but rather, as a form of text-based urban communication that developed its own networks.” Dating back to prehistoric drawings in caves, it has been used to track time, establish existence and promote comradery

Though contemporary graffiti has greatly evolved, its roots remain. With the creation of the aerosol spray can alongside the popularity of hip-hop music, it took off — yet again in NYC. This time in the sixties. “It was a time when young people, by responding to their socio-political environment, started creating a movement, taking the ‘battle for meaning’ into their own hands,” writes Bojan Maric. It went on to pave the way for the broader definition of street art that extends beyond tagged initials to unapologetic political protest and witting social commentary.

The image above wonderfully illustrates what cultural theorist Jean Baudrillard refers to as an artistic and “symbolic destruction of social relations.” Through a shadowy subject and a clever play on words, it questions social norms while urging the viewer to pause and rethink reality.

“From graffiti, stencils, prints and murals, through large-scale paintings and projects of artistic collaboration, to street installations, as well as performative and video art, it is very much safe to say that street art has found its way into the core of contemporary art.

With a deeper grasp on the story of street art, we invite you to scroll through the gallery below to discover how you can make a statement by bringing it into your home.

iCanvas has a huge variety of street art, making it easy to find one that fits your personality. Keep scrolling to discover street art of all kinds, and browse our full collection of more than 2,400 prints designed to make you think.

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