It’s always fraught with difficulty putting together a list of something like the best British street artists. It is of course it is highly subjective. But you know what, we’ve been covering the scene for a while now so we reckon we can give this a shot.
So here’s the thing. We’ve picked some of who we think are the best artists working in Britain today. They don’t have to be British but they do have to be resident. Visitors from elsewhere who rock up, do an amazing mural and leave, are not included.
The artists cover the whole country. To the best of our knowledge we’ve also listed the locations in which they are currently active. Unsurprisingly the hubs of Bristol and London have a number of representatives. As does the likes of Brighton, all with vibrant street art scenes.
So this post is really about highlighting the work of the amazing artists who make the scene what it is today. A few have been around a long time and a few have only just burst onto the scene. However all are highly skilled and key players in terms of what makes this exciting art form tick . So here we go, here is our list of the best street artists who we think are working in Britain today.
The Best Street Artists in Britain
Gaining herself ever more of a reputation, the Birmingham based artist has forged a trail in geometric street art. Primarily portraying animals and birds Annatomix also paints people. Her work can be seen not only around the country but around the world. She is influenced by science, history, religion and philosophy and it’s these roots which, she says, ultimately shape her work.
One of London’s most recognisable artists. Artista has been honing her colourful and crowd pleasing style on the walls of London and pretty much everywhere else over the past five years. Her cartoon creations have been getting ever larger and ever more elaborate. Her ‘flying toast’ in particular has pretty much become a trademark. It can be seen all over the place along with her signature ‘A’ character which of course stands for Artista.
Known for his murals of the natural world, ATM is a British street artist who paints birds and animals. Often endangered or at risk he will link his murals with the area in which he is painting. His work is often found near environmental and community settings as a result. We’ve featured his work a number of times on the blog. You can read about ten of his favourite pieces here.
It just doesn’t make sense to make a list of best British street artists without including Banksy. He is inextricably linked to the graffiti and street art scene in the UK and his influence is felt all over the world. Part of a hard core crew of writers from Bristol in the late eighties and early nineties. Banksy developed a style all of his own and started to lead the way in stencil art. This was something he would use to good effect in order to get his message out there quickly and without being detected. Now he combines a load of different techniques in his work. His murals garner attention wherever they are placed and people are still fascinated by the question just who is Banksy?
BEN EINE (LONDON)
Now known for his large scale letters and unique fonts. He paints high on walls all around the place. Ben Eine has been on a journey from notorious scourge of the authorities to acclaimed artist. His work now hangs in the white house and his calligraphic style has become hugely sought after. Most recently large scale pieces have appeared in the Olympic Park and on the Village Underground in a memorial to the Grenfell Tower disaster.
Painting from the early 2000’s Cheba is another artist whose roots go back to the influential Bristol graffiti scene. This was a time when his posters and stickers would appear everywhere. His current work is striking. Taking inspiration from space and more specifically from photos taken from the Hubble Space telescope. As such his most current series of works resemble a cosmos. You can take a look at some more of his work here.
A key player on the Bristol scene Cheo’s Aardman animation inspired characters have become popular sights in the city. A regular at the Upfest festival, for the 2016 event he even created a new Mr Man, Mr. Graff whilst for the 2017 outing he re-animated Morph. He’s been around for a long time though painting for over 30 years. Growing up he says that he could never go anywhere without a paper and pen. Early tagging translated into ever bigger pieces. Then, inspired by comic book illustrator Vaughn Bode, his cartoon and illustrative style that you see today began to take shape.
DALE GRIMSHAW (BLACKBURN)
Dale’s recent series of portraits featuring native peoples from West Papua have been popping up on walls around the country. The striking images are part of his campaigning brand of street art. This is meant to get people asking questions about what he describes as the brutality and torture going on in that country following its occupation by Indonesia. They are meant to raise awareness of a native people living halfway around the world and they do. To read more about the campaign to ‘Free West Papua’ check out this interview he did with the Islington Gazette.
DAN KITCHENER (SOUTHEND)
Known for his giant night scenes British street artist Kitchener likes to play around with light and reflection. As such his murals have a particular feel to them as he captures the bustle of a city. He is also influenced by Japan and Japanese culture. As a result he has an impressive line in painting geishas, sometimes mixing the two styles in his work. We interviewed Dan in 2016 when he had a show in Brick Lane. You can read that and see some more of his work here.
From the north of England but now settled in Brighton. Eelus is a self taught artist inspired by Banksy. Becoming enchanted with the street art scene when first moving down to London from Wigan. Known for his giant murals they most recently have been combining stencil with giant lines of colour. He is perhaps best known for helping to launch Wide Open Walls, a community art project in the Gambia.
Another British street artist who has been highly prolific over the past few years. He paints regularly in London and travels extensively both to paint around the country and the world. His style keeps evolving and he keeps pushing himself to master new styles. His sweets and balloons have drawn plaudits and he has got himself a reputation as a must see artist. We’ve covered his work a number of times. In particular we’ve featured shows at the BSMT Space, 5th Base and Vs Galleries.
A British street artist whose roots go back to the birth of graffiti culture in the UK in Bristol. There is no-one closer to the heart of the scene than Inkie. A contemporary and many time artistic partner of Banksy himself. Inkie was once arrested as part of the largest nationwide crackdown on graffiti. That was in 1989 the homes of 72 suspected graffiti artists were invaded across the south west. It became what was the UK’s largest ever operation against graffiti. Inkie had been on the radar for a while as a potential ringleader for the whole scene. You can see Inkie speak about his career on youtube here.
Based in London Irony has been pumping out the work over recent years. Often collaborating with fellow artist Boe, the two have become known for their large impressive and detailed murals of animals and birds. Individually Irony’s work covers other topics too. His is a body of work that is increasingly getting bigger and more impressive. Possibly one of his most popular pieces is a much loved collaboration with Boe featuring a Chihuahua in Poplar, you can check that out here.
JIM VISION (LONDON)
Based in the heart of the east end, Jim Vision’s work is a regular feature in the area. Co-founder of the art agency End of the Line. He has taken a role as both artist, curator and creative agency. His work with the Nomadic Community Gardens has helped transform a derelict area of the East End into a creatives paradise. Vision can also take credit for being one of the masterminds behind the London edition of Meeting of Styles. The popular street art festival is now held annually in London.
JODY THOMAS (BRISTOL)
Initially active in Bristol between 1986 and 1990 Jody took an 18 year break before bursting back onto the scene. His murals as part of the Upfest festival in Bristol have become particularly iconic. A photorealistic style which can produce some showstopping images. Some of his more recent work has featured the image of American artist and model Cassie Medor. The two have collaborated to together on a number of pieces. We spoke to him briefly at Upfest in 2017 and you can catch that interview here.
Taking inspiration from graffiti, street art and urban photography, JXC has a graphic photo realistic style which mixes elements from each. His images are always arresting and impactful. Another artist inspired by the seminal book ‘Subway Art’. Speaking to Street Art 360 JXC said of the ever changing nature of the medium “The fact that it may no longer be there in a matter of days, only adds to the allure of painting on the street”. You can see more work by JXC on his website here.
LOUIS MASAI (LONDON)
Well known for his campaigning style of art. Masai’s murals draw attention to the plight of endangered animals and birds. Masai’s save the bees collaboration with fellow British street artist Jim Vision saw bee murals pop up across London in 2014. A Kickstarter campaign meanwhile successfully funded a mural tour of the USA. There his artworks appeared in towns and cities across the country. All with the intention of drawing attention to endangered local species. We also interviewed Louis in 2013 and you can read that here.
MY DOG SIGHS (SOUTHSEA)
My Dog Sighs has become well known for his iconic eye and hug images. Painted high on walls or small as part of original paste ups. The artist has a fan friendly style which is always popular. He is also an artist best known for being one of the leading lights behind the concept of free art Fridays. An initiative where original art is quite literally just left out for people to find. Now he tends to do this more by the creation of original art which he pastes up onto the street for people to enjoy.
NOMAD CLAN (MANCHESTER)
These guys are just smashing everything at the moment. They are constantly producing amazing murals and quite frankly they are getting better and better. Made up of the duo of Aylo and Cbloxx. The Nomad Clan create large scale culturally relevant pieces on the walls they paint. Recently we featured their biggest mural to date in Leeds which today is the UK’s largest street art piece. They also featured in our top 20 list of amazing artworks from the recent Upfest festival.
Part of the Never Ready crew but now more often than not painting solo. Philth is known for his delicate patterned art. He takes inspiration from the natural world as well as from the environment around him. Known also for his calligraphy, Philth is a versatile artist and a regular on the UK street art circuit. We saw his work during the Rochdale Uprising festival where his work paid homage to the history of the town.
With a highly recognisable style Phlegm paints intricate characters and worlds large and small on walls everywhere. Primarily an illustrator he paints black and white images of incredible detail. These would be instantly recognisable to any follower of the street art scene. A regular visitor to London we covered his last show in the capital, the Bestiary, which itself was an immersive look into his world and his art. The unique thing about that particular show was that it was just one complete installation. The work was always intended to be destroyed at the end and nothing was sold. You can keep up to date with the work of Phlegm by following his blog here.
ROGUE ONE (GLASGOW)
With a name taken from Rogue Trooper from the 2000AD comics. Rogue One is another artist with a highly developed photo realistic style. Initially inspired by the graffiti and hip hop culture of the 80’s. His work can be seen dotted around Glasgow in particular. Speaking about his work to Street Art 360, Rogue said “I’m not exactly big on politics or religion so I don’t always try to give out messages in my artwork. Sometimes I do, sometimes their subtle, but mostly I try to just do paintings that make people smile or laugh.”
An Australian street artist based in Glasgow he might not be British but he does live in the UK. SMUG is a master at photo realism. His paintings become part of the fabric of the wall blending into the urban environments he paints. From a background of hip hop and graffiti he has honed his style through letters. Then into ever more elaborate designs to the expressive faces he is now known for. We’ve have featured his work as part of festivals in Aberdeen and Leicester. We’ve also covered his work as part of the impressive Silo Art Trail.
The duo have established themselves a reputation as two of the best stencil artists around. Creating detailed, ambitious and intricate works they have just kept getting bigger in terms of their street works. So big that they had to modify their style. Now the major pieces are built up with one substantive stencil that can take weeks to create prior to hand finishing. What’s more, their works are meant to last. Each stencil is thrown away afterwards meaning that each is special for the spot it is designed for.
A cornerstone of the Brighton scene. You will not go anywhere in that city without coming across work by SNUB. In particular his iconic portraits of Mongrol the giant robot from the 2000AD comic. SNUB has been active on the scene since the early nineties. Travelling between Brighton and London to paint. He would also take part in the thriving free party scene. This he credits as being a key enabler in terms of helping shape the street art scene we have today. You can read our interview with SNUB from 2015 here.
Spanish street artist Sr.X has made his home in Britain and has been a regular on the streets of London for the past couple of years. His work is often be based around societal themes turning those on their head. Respectable from the outside his characters will often have something else going on internally or may be interacting with something else entirely. You can read more about the work of Sr.X here.
Known for his instinctively appealing Stik characters the artist whose name literally represents what he paints has become hugely popular. Stik also helped to found the hugely successful Dulwich Outdoor Gallery with Ingrid Beazley. An initiative to connect urban art with that of the baroque in the Dulwich Picture Gallery. Stik’s work can be found dotted around London in particular. It’s even begun to take on an almost protected status. Some seeking to actively preserve his work even all around it may be being redeveloped or destroyed.
Polish born but now based in Manchester. Tankpetrol’s work can be seen all over. His style is unique in that it looks like a stencil but isn’t. Instead his big murals are created using a dot matrix printer style approach. Each layer steadily being built from the ground up. Considering the size of some of his works, this is impressive indeed. We most recently covered his work in Rochdale, Blackburn and West Didsbury.
A graffiti artist who keeps himself to himself given that there’s not really that much information about him online. Despite this he is someone whose work can be found widely. Versatile, his tag ‘Voyder’ is rarely written the same way twice. The artist is also adapt at portraiture and photo realism making him a highly versatile artist.
We’ve been following the career of Zabou for a while. Originally from France she has based herself in London now for many years. Her images have become a recognisable part of the London street art scene. It’s not just London though, Zabou paints all over the and her giant stylised murals have been popping up everywhere. A few years ago she even gave a TED talk on street art, her influence since has only been growing.
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