14 Artists Behind The Best New Street Art In Los Angeles
The street art scene in Los Angeles has blown up—so much so that artists from around the world feel compelled to visit and leave their mark on the city. While we have some huge stunners that have been put up over the past few years (and are still standing!) from artists like Cyrcle and Woodkid in Hollywood and How & Nosm and Dabs & Myla in downtown L.A., there are some newer ones over the last year that have caught our attention.
Some of them are colorful portrait murals from the likes of Tristan Eaton and pop art from England's D*Face. And then there are the ones with short lifespans like WRDSMITH's wheatpastes with typewriter notes of inspiration and Pablo Delgado's tiny, tiny murals of people popping up where you least expect them.
LAist consulted with some folks with expert knowledge on the street art scene for this story: Fredrik Lidskog of Impermanent Art (Tumblr and Instagram), Erin Mitchell of Lost Angeles Street Art (Tumblr and Instagram), Stefan Kloo (Flickr), and Jay Kantor of Kung Fu Breakfast (Instagram).
Here are our favorite pieces of street art that have popped up in Los Angeles over the last year. Some of them are still up if you can find them and some have been taken down. It's the impermanent nature of street art, but luckily we have some photos of them for posterity. As always, feel free to share your favorites in the comments.
Jet-setting British street artist D*Face (AKA Dean Stockton) occasionally pops into Los Angeles to grace us with his work. His murals have tongue-in-cheek humor and pay homage to Roy Lichtenstein's comic strip-like art. Last month he put up his "Love Trap" mural (see above) on a brick building in East Hollywood just above Bicycle Coffee. And over the past year, he also painted "Going Everywhere Fast" alongside the Corey Helford Gallery in Culver City, and a set of flirty blue eyes across the side of the Line hotel in Koreatown. "I always find it useful to paint something bashy on the side of places I stay, it helps me find them when I'm aimlessly wondering home blind drunk," D*Face said on his blog.
See more of D*Face's work here.
Once you start noticing WRDSMTH's wheatpastes and stencils filled with nuggets of wisdom and humor from typewriters, you'll begin to see them everywhere (until they get taken down). There's this one: "I am in love with a girl who breaks my heart daily. Her name is Los Angeles." Or there's the more hopeful: "I believe in you. So that makes two of us."
WRDSMTH, a Los Angeles transplant who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, started a project with the goal of putting up one new wheatpaste a day throughout 2014, according to his interview with The LA Girl blog. Just like many others in L.A., he moved out here to pursue his dreams in the industry. "I write things on walls that I wished people would have said to me when I first moved here," he said.
See more of WRDSMTH's art here.
Portuguese artist Vhils (AKA Alexandre Farto) blows us away with his haunting and expressive portraits of people's faces carved into brick and concrete walls. Vhils will chisel and chip away the paint and the structure of walls using hammers, power tools, and controlled explosives. To get an idea of how he does this, check out this video. He last made his rounds through L.A. late last year with two portraits up in Chinatown.
In an interview with Wired UK in 2011, Vhils said that the subjects of his murals are average people he's met during his travels: "Instead of creating icons out of people who have changed history, like what Warhol was doing with Mao Zedong and others, I take an ordinary person and try and make people think about the ordinary citizens who struggle everyday to eke a living in contemporary society."
See more of Vhils' art here.
Native Californian David Flores got his start as an illustrator for Shorty's ads in skateboard magazines. Now you can see his geometric murals of familiar cultural icons that employ a "stained glass" look everywhere. There's his Calvin and Hobbes homage outside of Uprising Creative's office in Silver Lake and his Johnny Cash tribute at the Viper Room. Most recently, we've seen him put up his gorgeous John Lennon-inspired "Imagine" emblazoned across DAS Shop in Venice (see above) and Japanese-inspired dragon floating across the walls of Tatsu Ramen in Hollywood.
See more of David Flores' art here.
L.A.-based artist Tristan Eaton is a man of many talents. He's not only a muralist and street artist, but he's also a toy designer and illustrator. You may have seen his popular bunny-eared Dunny toy designed with Kidrobot founder Paul Budnitz. Eaton even has a permanent art collection at New York's MoMA.
His most popular street art are large-scale murals: black and white images with bursts of color and different layers revealing more graphics. They feature images of faces, cultural icons and cartoons. Brands love to commission work from him: this year he put up a mural at L.A.'s GUESS store and a Converse one in Hollywood. Our favorite, though, is his stunning "Piece by Piece" mural painted at the Container Yard in downtown L.A. (see above). On his blog, Eaton wrote, "This mural addresses the conflicts and debate around gun violence and gun control in the United States."
See more of his work here.
Like WRDSMTH, Morley is also a prolific local street artist who does his best work in wheatpaste with text. His pieces usually featured a bespectacled cartoon version of Morley writing sentences—even whole paragraphs—with tongue-in-cheek humor, thoughts or inspiring words. One is: "The greatest danger is convincing yourself that you will not survive this." Another is: "One day you'll laugh at how much you let this matter." It's as if Morley is right there with you, cheering you up when you need it most or telling you he understands what you're going through.
See more of Morley's art here.
Mexican-born, London-based street artist Pablo Delgado recently made his rounds through Los Angeles, putting up his tiny wheatpastes in inconspicuous spots throughout the city. It's like finding Waldo in the midst of a busy city. Sometimes his work stays up and is weathered over time, other times people take his artwork home. His dreamlike miniature images is inspired by the internet, media, magazines and books. His artwork also reflects Mexican influences with a heaping dose of social commentary and humor. They're usually black-and-white with a pop of color here and there. Even though his images are 2D, he pastes them at certain angles and gives them shadowing that makes it look 3D.
See more of Pablo Delgado's work here.
Artist Kim West hails from Los Angeles and is known for her stunning and vibrantly-colored murals depicting wildlife and nature on the walls of our urban jungle. Her artwork is a combination of different mediums: acrylic, spray paint and gold leaf. You may have seen her mural paintings of a demure deer or fierce lion while passing through downtown's Arts District.
See more of Kim West's work here.
Every time you walk past one of Retna's (AKA Marquis Lewis) stunning murals, you can't help but stop and look back. The L.A.-based artist takes typography and lettering to the next level. When he was a kid, he was interested in the Old English lettering he'd see local gangs use. Later, his work would be inspired by Asian calligraphy, hieroglyphics, and Hebrew and Arabic writing.
In an interview with The Economist's Intelligent Life, Retna explained whether his artwork is just visual or has a message: "There’s a verbal element. It could be a poem, it could be just stuff that I’m thinking about, for me it’s just a very meditative process; I’m just having a conversation with myself. Sometimes I allow the music to influence what I’m writing. A lot of them are names my mom would call me when I was growing up, and some are things I’m talking about, friends who have passed away—they’re interactions with what’s going on with people that I just meet, or a conversation I just had. I hear a word or a phrase or a dialogue, and then that becomes my response. They all say something."
See more of Retna's artwork here.
L.A.-native El Mac (AKA Miles "Mac" MacGregor) has a penchant for painting large-scale portrait murals that are striking because they are both dreamlike and photorealistic. He's inspired by the Chicano movement and Mexican culture he grew up around. His murals can be seen internationally.
Mac often collaborates with some other major artists in the street art scene like Retna. Together, they put out some stunners (see more of their collaborations here). Most recently, he got together with Augustine Kofie and Joseph Manuel Montalvo to produce a gorgeous and vibrant mural along the wall of the American Hotel in the Arts District, which you can see above.
See more of El Mac's artwork here
Fin DAC and Christina Angelina
Fin DAC hails from Ireland, but now resides in London. He recently joined forces with local Venice artist Christina Angelina (AKA Angelina Christina) to paint gorgeous murals all over the country. One of those recent stops was in Los Angeles, where we can see their large-scale artwork of two women from different cultures adorning a building on Winston Street in downtown L.A.
Fredrik Lidskog of Impermanent Art tells LAist that there's another stunning Fin DAC mural up in the Garment District in downtown L.A. The artist want to keep the location of the mural a secret and street art enthusiasts have done the same. You can see it here.
In a 2012 interview with the Votre Art blog, Fin DAC described his stencil and paint style as being influenced by "dark graphic novels through to the works of Francis Bacon and Aubrey Beardsley," and "all forms of Asian art." His subjects are often Asian females from urban environments. While they have black-and-white elements to them, they'll also have a pop of color in the form of a mask around their eyes.
Christina Angelina is a woman of many talents. Besides her street art, she runs and owns the StarFighter Studios gallery and production studio, and is also a photographer. Her beautiful artwork features realistic portraits of female characters
Herakut is a German street art duo consisting of artists Hera (AKA Jasmin Siddiqui) and Akut (AKA Falk Lehman). The team creates murals reflecting a narrative with imaginary worlds, oftentimes including quotes or passages to go along with their large-scale art pieces. Their work can be seen all around the world, but a little over a year ago, they stopped by in Los Angeles and painted a few murals through the Westside. One was at the Ignition Creative in Playa Vista that had a woodsy element with a girl lying on her stomach with a shadow of a tree behind her and a deer, which you can see above. It was paired with an Albert Einstein quote: "Striving for truth and beauty is a sphere in which we are allowed to stay children throughout life."
See more of Herakut's artwork here.
Aaron Li-Hill's murals are wispy, haunting and dreamy. The Canadian artist based out of Brooklyn, NY, uses a style of painting that makes it seem like his subjects (animals and people) appear to be in motion through layered images. Just a couple of months ago, he had an art show at C.A.V.E. Gallery in Venice, and painted a companion piece alongside Cerveteca restaurant in the same neighborhood, which you can see above.
See more of Li-Hill's artwork here.