Street art style is all around us. From its origins in the streets of New York city to its entry into posh art galleries around the world, street art has had a major influence on contemporary art, fashion and design. In 2022, the story continues – this year sees street art’s influence going stronger than ever.
Throughout its decades-long evolution, street art has featured a few key trends that stood out from the rest. These trends gradually filtered into a global style that we’re seeing pop up in cities of all sizes around the world today.
Here are four of the hottest street art style trends to look out for when you’re strolling through your city.
You’ve probably seen these murals in your city – if not on the internet. They are quintessential Instagram content, and with good reason. People can’t seem to get enough of these stylized portraits of celebrities, public figures, activists and everyday people.
These pieces typically consist of a detailed, photo-realistic portrait mixed with a signature style embellishment, such as colorful shapes or backgrounds.
Two artists that masterfully exemplify this street art trend are Kevin Ledo and Eduardo Kobra.
Kevin Ledo is a Canadian muralist with his own unique style which he adapted from his studio art. Colourful ribbons and shapes adorn his often-monochrome portraits, creating a stunning contrast.
Ledo has created large-scale murals in the U.K., Spain, New Zealand, Lebanon and more. He’s perhaps most well known (especially in Montreal) for his tribute to Leonard Cohen mural which adorns the side of a building in Montreal’s Plateau district.
Eduardo Kobra is a Brazilian street artist with a signature style involving large-scale portraits overlaid with colourful geometric designs.
His subjects include celebrities, national landmarks and everyday people. Like Kevin Ledo’s murals, Kobra’s portraits are often black-and-white or monochromatic but get mixed with vivid accents, most notably in a signature rainbow-checkered pattern.
Bright Geometric Designs
Eduardo Kobra’s signature checkered colours relate to another hot trend in contemporary street art: bold, bright geometric designs.
While some artists incorporate them as an accent to more figurative work, a few prominent street artists specialize in making abstract designs using bright, bold strokes. Two artists which have mastered this technique are MadC and Maya Hayuk.
MadC is a German muralist bringing influences from the world of graffiti into contemporary street art. She is known for her large-scale outdoor murals.
MadC’s signature style involves bold, sweeping lines of colour, often layered to create stunning effects. Her work is reminiscent of wild style graffiti writing, but takes us into an abstract space without letters or objects. Her stunning pieces can be found on building exteriors and in galleries throughout Europe and the U.S.
Maya Hayuk is an American artist whose work draws from traditional folk art such as Ukrainian crafts and mandalas.
Her large-scale murals feature interlocking lines of bright colours, creating layered grids that adorn building facades and gallery canvases alike. Her work creates striking visual effects that play with perspective, depth and colour palettes. She has provided artwork for album covers, videos and posters and worked with prominent bands like the Beastie Boys and the Flaming Lips.
Satire and Social Commentary Pieces
Humour, satire and biting socio-political commentary has always been at the core of street art. Early pioneers like Basquiat and Haring brought attention to social issues in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, but notoriously anonymous pranksters like Banksy popularized today’s culture-jamming street art trend.
Two artists moving along the path that Banksy forged in the early 2000s are Hanksy and iHeart.
With a name that combines a love of Tom Hanks and Bansky influences, American artist Hanksy has made an unforgettable contribution to the world of pop-culture-referencing street art.
His work is often based on some kind of pun-based idea, heavily satirises public figures and of course features the face of actor Tom Hanks. Hanksy initially gained attention by combining Tom Hanks’ face with Banksy’s famous rat-holding-a-paint-roller. He’s also gained notoriety by getting into political commentary – as illustrated in a piece he created in response to Donald Trumps’ run for president.
iHeart is a Canadian street artist using graffiti-like stencils to express his opinions on social and cultural issues. Like Banksy, he maintains anonymity and doesn’t reveal many personal details.
iHeart gained attention for his social media commentary piece called “Nobody Likes Me.” It depicts a young boy under an Instagram notifications counter displaying zero likes, comments, and followers. His work often criticizes social-media-obsessed culture with heavy doses of irony and juxtaposition.
3D Sidewalk Chalk Art
Sidewalk chalk art has always been an important part of street art culture. While chalk art pieces aren’t meant to last as long as those made with aerosol or paint markers, they can still have a lasting impact on those who come across them.
Some notable chalk street artists love to play with perspective, creating amazing three-dimensional images along sidewalks, plazas and busy city streets.
Two artists who perfectly embody this 3D chalk art movement are Edgar Mueller and Eduardo Rolero.
Edgar Mueller is a German artist known for his mind-bending street chalk art pieces. He labels himself an “illusionist street painter.” He gained notoriety mainly through YouTube videos depicting his optical illusion pieces.
Mueller is perhaps the best-known 3D chalk street artist today. He has created several pieces in cities around the world which have been shared extensively on social media. His pieces often create the illusion of a cliff, waterfall or crevasse opening up on a street or walkway.
Eduardo Rolero is a chalk street artist of Argentinian origin. He combines 3D chalk street art with social critique to create his signature pieces.
Rolero’s work hints at classic influences from artists such as M.C. Escher and Salvador Dali which he adapts to a street art medium. His pieces typically play with size, perspective and movement to create surreal effects and comment on social issues.
Now that you’ve familiarized yourself with a few of its hottest trends, you can dive into the world of street art and find your favourite pieces. Next time you’re out and about, keep your eye out for these popular street art styles. You’d be surprised at how many you can find in your city.