We love Los Angeles because it’s infuriating in its movement and overstimulation; construction cranes everywhere, billboards soaring from every building screaming for our attention, peeling and cracked brick walls looming in every alleyway on every major boulevard from DTLA to the sea. But near those construction sites are rows of plywood walls asking to be drawn on, painted, and plastered with wheat paste. Those billboards and alleyways are just asking for color, creativity, and the perfect quippy message to be scrawled in the dead of night.
We always cheer for art when we see these blank canvases morphed into so much more – two inch squares depicting miniature slices of life, or seventy foot murals of alien creatures, animals larger than life, or icons of times past. The LA street art scene is vibrant and loud, but through the chaos we’ve narrowed down a few of our favorite artists in the city.
(Photo Credit: Bedside via Wikimedia Commons)
Morley – We love art that incorporates the written word and illustration together (perhaps that’s because that’s what we strive to do?) Morley’s works are insightful, raw, and often pull at our heart-strings. They can be fleeting, pulled down as quickly as they are put up, but that makes our interactions with them all the more ephemeral.
Retna – Retna’s street art is loud and bold. His work includes an original alphabet which resembles something you’d see in ancient Egypt. The indecipherable script adds mystery and romance all at once – messages written for the artist’s eyes only. The busy lettering keeps our eyes wandering, always something new to focus on – we love getting lost in these works.
(Photo Credit: Ryan Stanford (@Nothing_Stars))
Mear One – It’s no surprise that in Los Angeles you find street art dedicated to politics and yogis alike. “Unity Consciousness” by Mear One is yet another mural by an artist who often creates works on a wide berth of social commentary. This work is about self-realization, according to the artist, who is very active on Instagram, allowing followers a glimpse into his thought on creation. The two way dialogue in this social media-driven world inspires us to see more than a mural on a wall but a conversation between artist and viewer.
Shepard Fairey – Everyone knows Shepard Fairey’s work (Obama’s “Hope” poster, the Andre the Giant stickers) but we love his vibrant, primarily red mural near our office. His murals grace several parking structures in LA, making us wonder why every parking structure isn’t nicer to look at. Being stuck in traffic is nicer when you have something inspiring out your windshield, and seeing Fairey’s work on the daily reminds us of the struggles creators overcome to make their work known, and how far we’ve come as a society in accepting this art form.
Kobra – This Brazilian artist’s murals are colorful, intricate, and massive. They demand your attention, and in Los Angeles we dig the iconic wall of Nobel laureates that he made a few years back. In brilliant technicolor, the realistic faces of Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and Martin Luther King, Jr., stare into the street and makes us wonder what they see that we don’t (or can’t?) Kobra’s unique style gives us pause to stop and think about where we’ve come and the greats who have shaped our past and present.
(Photo Credit: Do Art Foundation)
Christina Angelina – Based in Venice, Christina Angelina’s often features females – something refreshing in a field dominated by men. Angelina aspires to bring art to communities that are lacking, so we feel honored to have her works in a city drenched in paint. Her murals are dotted through DTLA empowering us to change the game the way she is – one creative spark at a time. The realistic works are prolific and she often collaborates with other artists (the one above was done by Angelina, Stephen V Williams, and EaseOne.) For a community fueled by a collective desire to create, seeing collabs such as Angelina’s is heartening – and a reminder to keep our minds open to new partnerships and concepts.