Famous Graffiti Artists

Fascinating Facts About Famous Graffiti Artists You Never Knew

The work of graffiti artists is greatly appreciated, even though most of them seek to remain anonymous. Discover more about some celebrated graffiti artists and their work.
Graffiti as an art form has existed for several centuries now, with evidence dating back to the Stone Age. Of course, over the years it has evolved tremendously. While for several decades (and in some cases even now) graffiti was viewed as form of vandalism, today it is considered an art style with specific features, standards, and characteristics. It is more accessible, is used to spread a message, and can genuinely create beauty in surroundings that spell despair.

There are several graffiti artists out there who have left their mark and created works of art that have stirred people into action and got them talking. These artists are the modern-day Michelangelos and Da Vincis.

*The artists have been listed in alphabetical order only. This list is a subjective preference.

Famous as: Banksy
Born as: Unknown
Originally from: Bristol, England
As of today, Banksy is one of the most popular graffiti writers in the world. The fact that his actual identity remains unknown adds to the aura and hype surrounding his work. He has a distinctive style that uses the technique of stenciling. His works are often comments on the social and political situation of the world and have been featured on streets, walls and bridges in different cities.

Some of his most famous works include the Naked Man which is created on the wall of a sexual health clinic in Bristol, and his recreation of an image from Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, wherein John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson are holding bananas instead of guns.

Famous as: Blek le Rat
Born as: Xavier Prou
Originally from: Paris, France
Blek le Rat is often described as the Father of Stencil Graffiti and is credited with creating the technique which has been adopted by artists such as Banksy. He has often said that he is motivated to create more art to spread social consciousness and to make art more accessible to people.

His works often feature people who are alone than groups in chaos. Blek's work depicting the homeless, which he began in 2006, became extremely popular. When he began stenciling, he painted rats on walls, describing them as the "only free animals in the city... they spread plague everywhere, just like street art."

Famous as: C215
Born as: Christian Guémy
Originally from: Paris, France
C215 is another famous artist who primarily uses graffiti to create his work. Most of his art work comprises portraits and close-ups of people. His subjects are normally people from the lower strata of society. Beggars, homeless people, refugees, and street kids often feature in his work. He has explained this as an effort on his side to garner attention to the downtrodden and forgotten.

He often features his daughter Nina, who is also a stencil artist, in his work. He does commercial work on wood and canvas for several art galleries.

Famous as: DONDI
Born as: Donald Joseph White
Originally from: New York City, USA
Considered one of the most prominent graffiti artists ever, DONDI became seriously involved in graffiti in the 1970s. His primary aim was to ensure that people who come across his work be able to access, read, and enjoy it. Keeping this in mind, he created artwork with letters that were not only readable but were intricately filled and had a lot of character.

One of his most famous works was the Children of the Grave series which was create on three whole cars of the New York city subway system. He was the first graffiti artist ever to have a show alone.

Famous as: Lady Pink
Born as: Sandra Fabara
Originally from: New York City, USA
One of the few female graffiti writers, Lady Pink started creating graffiti to express her grief over being separated from her boyfriend, who had been arrested and deported to Puerto Rico. This soon metamorphosed into a lifelong career in creating murals and artwork.

Much of her work is easily identifiable by the vivid use of color. A lot of her work is primarily composed of murals and graffiti on canvases. Much of her recent work includes integration of other graffiti tags, which is a style that is unique, individualistic, and a salute to artists who have influenced her.

Famous as: Phase 2
Born as: Lonny Wood
Originally from: New York City, USA
Phase 2 was one of the most influential graffiti artists in the field when it came to lettering. He is credited with coming up with the bubble letter style of graffiti that was soon copied by other artists to create their own renditions. The softie, as this style is also known, is considered a game-changer. Phase 2 created several variations of his own lettering.

In time, his work became more complex with abstraction becoming more and more integral to his style of calligraphy. He also shifted from his earlier softer work to creating alphabets that were harder, sharper and more geometric.

Famous as: Taki 183
Born as: Demetrius
Originally from: New York City, USA
Taki 183 is famous for having brought mainstream attention to tagging (writing of an artist's name in their individualistic handstyle). In the early 1970s when graffiti was still an unheard-of art form, Taki 183 took to signing his name wherever he went. This caught the eye of The New York Times, which ran an article about him and his several imitators titled "Taki 183" Spawns Pen Pals. He became the forerunner of the graffiti movement.

When interviewed recently, he said, "We did it because there was nothing else to do, and it was easy to do it. We were just killing time...I think a lot of what the graffiti movement spawned, early on, was just vandalism and defacement. But later on real artists started doing it, and it did become a true art form."

Famous as: Zephyr
Born as: Andrew Witten
Originally from: New York City, USA
Zephyr is often referred to as an 'elder' in graffiti circles, identified as one of those people who invented the many styles of graffiti that influenced later artists. He was one of those artists who traveled from street art to galleries and commercial artwork.

One of the recognizable traits in his work is the use of contrast in the edges of the alphabets that he created.

Call them artists or writers, these people have changed the way we look at the few strokes of paint and the alphabets that completely change a wall or a bridge. There are many other famous graffiti artists, other than the ones mentioned in this list, who have created beauty where you could previously find none. And that is their greatest gift to us.
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