Eight masters of street art everyone should know (and none of them are Banksy)

Heir to the subcultures that changed the face of cities like New York, London and Berlin in the early 1980s, urban art crossed the limits of streets and walls and stormed art galleries and museums.

Its popularity blurred the boundaries between popular and elite art, with an increasingly important role among general media and a gradual rise in art market prices.

More popular than Picasso

According to a YouGov survey , the elusive and mysterious Banksy is the UK’s third most popular artist, behind only masters Leonardo da Vinci and Vincent Van Gogh.

This survey indicates that Banksy ‘s works are more widely recognized than Michelangelo ‘s drawings and Picasso ‘s paintings .

Although the figure of this English creator comes up every time we talk about urban art, we are going to follow the advice of the Maddox gallery in London to find eight great contemporary talents who were born from urban art or were strongly influenced by this movement.

Richard Hambleton

Known as ‘the godfather of street art’ Hambleton rose to fame in 1980s New York, in a trinity that also included Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.Humbleton’s ‘Shadowman’ figures. 

His career was made in the streets, with ‘tags’ in seedy alleys with his remembered shadowman , the profile of a faceless man who surprised passers-by.

Hambleton is remembered for surprising in the dark alleys of New York with the figure of the ‘shadowman’

The fluid, painterly form of his work made him a key figure in the Abstract Expressionism and contemporary art movements of that decade, serving to pave the way for a new breed of urban artists.

But fame was a bad traveling companion, and Hambleton spent many years squatting on the streets, hooked on crack and other drugs.

Keith Haring

Also emerging from the New York scene, he drank from both pop art and graffiti culture. His first works were compositions on advertisements in the Big Apple subway.

Read more: Bushwick: the paradise of urban art in New York is in Brooklyn

Its display of colors and the simple shapes of its characters changed the rules of the game in this genre, making art accessible to the general public.Keith Haring mural in Philadelphia.

As Haring grew in popularity, he dedicated his artistic efforts to promoting urban art as a speaker of social injustices and as a protest tool. But in 1990, at the height of his career, he died of AIDS.

Jean Michel Basquiat

The third great figure to emerge from 80s New York, his art was characterized by dynamic compositions and thick brushwork.

His first artistic steps were painting subway cars and walls in the Soho neighborhood, which he signed as SAMO (acronym for ‘The same crap as always’, in English).Basquiat’s work at the Benesse House Museum in Naoshima. 

His works attracted the gaze of critics and experts. He was a close friend and collaborator of Andy Warhol , dated Madonna , lived on the streets, had more than 40 individual exhibitions and participated in a hundred group shows and was about to conquer Paris and London.

Basquiat lived on the street for a long time, he could not escape from drugs. After he died, his works were revalued and in 2017 he broke records by selling his work for 110 million euros

But the drugs were stronger and he was sentenced to death in 1988. He was only 27 years old.

As often happens, his death catapulted the price of his works, to the point that in 2017 one of his works was sold for 110 million euros, a historical record for an American artist.


Originally from London, Stik rode the wave of popularity that Banksy generated in the UK in the early 2000s. Like the popular artist, his identity is also unknown.

His art is easily recognized by his human figures with simple lines and white color, with a somewhat melancholic aesthetic, but always emotional and with the idea of ​​community as leitmotif .

In his career he has offered his talent to organizations such as Amnesty International , British Waterways and others that work with vulnerable groups.

Mr Brainwash

His real name is Thierry Guetta and he rose to fame for making the bizarre mockumentary Exit Through the Gift Shop co-directed by Banksy .

His obsession with filming everything he saw led him to immerse himself in the world of street art, where he met Banksy who put his artistic enthusiasm on track.

His works are influenced by Dadaism and Pop Art, with large-format works that paper the streets of cities like Los Angeles.Mural of Mr Brainwash in Los Angeles. 

Tv boy

This Italian began his career in 1996 in Milan, and in 2004 he settled in Barcelona, ​​where he lives and works.

His creations made on large-format paper play with irony and political incorrectness, where his series of antagonistic personalities are famous (such as Messi and Ronaldo fused into a kiss, or Santiago Abascal and Pablo Casado posing as a gay couple), as well as the characterization of classic works with modern messages, such as Boticelli ‘s nymphs disguised as nurses with anti-covid vaccines.


Street art doesn’t have to be just murals or stencils. The Invader artist became popular thanks to his mosaics inspired by the ‘martians’ from Space Invaders .

It is known about this artist that he is a little over 50 years old, that he studied fine arts in Paris, and that he created more than 4,000 pieces that he posted all over the world, from Madrid to Berlin, and from Tokyo to Los Angeles. And especially Paris, with more than 80 raids.Invader mosaic in Marseille.

But not all of them are video game characters: this urban artist usually makes short phrases, representations of popular culture icons such as the android  R2-D2  from  Star WarsRubik ‘s cube shapes and QR code figures.