It’s always fraught with difficulty putting together a list like this because 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 so visitors from elsewhere who rock up, do an amazing mural and leave, are not included.
The artists cover the whole country and to the best of our knowledge we’ve 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. Some are better known than others, 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.
Gaining herself ever more of a reputation, the Birmingham based artist has forged a trail in geometric street art which the public seem to love. Primarily portraying animals and birds Annatomix also paints people and 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 and can be seen all over the place as has her signature ‘A’ character which of course stands for Artista.
Of course it just doesn’t make sense to make a list like this without including the world’s most famous street artist. Banksy 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, something which he would use to good effect in order to get his message out there quickly and without being detected. Now of course 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 font which 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 whose work now hangs in the white house and whose 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 where his posters and stickers would appear everywhere. His current work is striking in that it is inspired by 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 and 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 which 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 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 and so also 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 and 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 who became enchanted with the street art scene when first moving down to London. Now 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 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 but most significantly in 2016 when, at the BSMT Space gallery in London, he hosted his first solo show.
An artist whose roots go back to the birth of graffiti culture in the UK. 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 when in 1989 the homes of 72 suspected graffiti artists were invaded across the south west in 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 and his is a body of work that is increasingly getting bigger and more impressive. Possibly one of his most popular pieces though 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. C0-founder of the art agency End of the Line, he has taken a role as both artist, curator and creative agency. Most recently 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 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 works as part of the Upfest festival in Bristol have become particularly iconic and his photorealistic style can produce some showstopping images. His recent work has featured the image of American artist and model Cassie Medor and the two have collaborated to together on a number of works. 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 animals and birds which are in some way at risk or whose habitats are endangered. Masai’s save the bees collaboration with Jim Vision saw bee murals pop up across London in 2014 and a recent Kickstarter campaign successfully funded a mural tour of the USA where 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 that he will paste up on 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 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 and they also featured in our top 20 list of amazing artworks from the recent Upfest festival.
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 which 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 with the work always intended to be destroyed at the end, 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 having initially being 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 based in Glasgow, SMUG is a master at photorealism and 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 and ever more elaborate designs to the expressive faces he is now known for.
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 and now the major pieces are built up with one substantive stencil that can take weeks to create and then hand finished. What’s more, their works are meant to last, each stencil is thrown away afterward meaning that each work 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 and in particular his iconic portrait 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 and to take part in the thriving free party scene which 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 artists Sr.X has been a regular on the streets of London for the past couple of years. His art 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. Writing as well as contributing to a number of books 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 and has begun to take on an almost protected status with 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 and we most recently bumped into him at the Blackburn Open Walls festival. His style is unique in that it looks like a stencil but isn’t. Instead his big murals are created using a dotmatrix printer style approach where each layer is built from the ground up. Considering the size of some of his works, this is impressive indeed.
A graffiti artist who keeps himself to himself given that there’s not really that much information about him online although 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 and 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. She also gave Inspiring City one of our first interviews and you can read that little gem here.