Walk around any urban area and you will be met with hundreds of street art quotes ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous. Banksy is undoubtedly one of the leaders in street art quotes, any search on the internet will turn up hundreds of pictures and news has just emerged of new work appearing in Gaza that includes a new Banksy street art quote, read more in the New Banksy Work In Gaza article. Using street art quotes is of course a popular way to spread political awareness and can often send a serious message as can be seen in the Urban Art Originating From Social Upheaval article, through to spreading messages of love and peace as with The John Lennon Wall in Prague, see the Wall Is Not Over article. 10 Intriguing Quotes by Street Artists brings together just a small selection of the many street art quotes that are out there in every town and city, some intriguing and some just simple, but intriguing in the way they have been used. Have a read and next time you are out, take a look around and see what artists are trying to say to you, for their message usually contains much more than what meets the eye. It is their simple, yet effective lines and quotes that make us stop and ponder about themes of social issues, politics, art and life. It is often just a simple sentence that is enough to make us question our perception of the issue, and spark a long-lasting debate. So, without further ado, let us enjoy some of the best examples of wittiness, creativity and wordplay behind the street artists.
Word on the street is, there's a great book we recommend, if you're a fan of street art and graffiti quotes!
Editors’ Tip: The Writing on the Wall
After nearly forty years of not being on bookshelves, Roger Perry's The Writing on the Wall is finally available again. It is a true collectors' item, as it is widely regarded as the first major survey of London's fledgling graffiti scene, and helped establish a trend which has ultimately led to the massive proliferation of such books, visible in nearly every book store and museum gift shop in the world. The graffiti Perry photographs can be seen as the roots of what we're familiar with today, as give us a fascinating window into 1970s countercultural London, with Perry giving an impartial platform to anyone and everyone that wanted to be heard over the backdrop of urban decay and regeneration.
Banksy is perhaps one of the most famous exponents of the street art quote with simple but pertinent phrases that stick in the mind. The work of Banksy is also known for questioning those in authority and making political statements, as with the brand new works that have just appeared in Gaza, including the quote seen above. The works highlight the troubles facing the 1.8 million residents of Palestine with the Banksy website describing it as ‘’the world’s largest open air prison’’. The quote reminds us that standing by and doing nothing is not an option.
French artist Combo has become known for his topical graffiti around the streets of Paris and further afield. His recent works have featured the artist in Muslim dress with various quotes to try and blast cultural stereotypes and to give a voice to those people who may be misunderstood. Unfortunately, while posting some of his works on the streets of Paris recently he was attacked by a group of men and beaten, you can read more on that subject in Street Artist Combo Attacked. Luckily for us, Combo will not be put off hitting the streets with his thought provoking street art quotes.
American street artist and designer Eddie Colla gained a fair amount of press with this particular street art quote that tells us ‘if we want to achieve greatness stop asking for permission’. The piece of street art that is telling us to just get on with it and to go for it, is intriguing because not only did Wayfair, a Walmart Marketplace retailer steal it to sell without permission, they also claimed it was a Banksy just to add the final insult! Looks like Wayfair took the quote too literally.
Street artist Jay Shells (Jason Shelowitz) took a slightly different approach with his street art quotes with a series of rap quotes placed on street signs in different cities. The series was created by the rap lover on official looking street signs that were attached to street posts in the exact locations that were mentioned in the rap quotes. The rap quotes series featured a number of big names from the rap world including the likes of Warren G, Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg and Xzibit. It is certainly an intriguing, unique and unusual approach to bringing quotes to the street.
Irish street artist Karma has become well known for his political stencil work that critiques capitalism and the absurdities of modern life. The self-taught artist is also recognised for the positive style street art quotes he leaves behind, as with this ‘No Act of Kindness No Matter How Small is Ever Wasted’ quote. The often life affirming art works that celebrate the human spirit may be a bit Banksy in appearance, but are designed to make you question the life you are leading.
Stockholm, Sweden based street artist Mogul is another artist creating political street works with quotes in the style of Banksy. The words on this piece of street art are not uncommon but it is intriguing that various street artists from around the word appropriate similar images to complete their work, see the article about appropriation. The stencil works of Mogul are aimed at making the public consider social and political issues through direct imagery and street art quotes.
Los Angeles based street artist Morley has built quite a reputation for his bold works that include street art quotes. Morley prints big messages that he then wheatpastes around his urban landscape, and intriguingly, always includes himself as a simple drawing in the posters, writing the quotes. The street artist aims to be a friendly voice amongst the corporate slogans and adverts by blending hope, humour and a unique perspective on life. The typographic street art featured here is a good reminder that those who are the loudest are not always the best!
Sometimes it’s not just the words or quotes that are intriguing in street art but the whole concept behind them as is the case with Mr Brainwash, an associate of Bansky. It is thought the work is made by a creative team rather than Mr Brainwash, whom some believe is a Banksy prank, and often uses copyrighted material altered slightly. On first look this image is quite innocent and encouraging us to go after our dreams but when looked at with the knowledge that a creative team may have made it you begin to question the reasons behind it. See more in The Brainwashed Nike Air Force One article.
WRDSMTH is an intriguing street artist that has appeared in Hollywood who describes themselves as a writer rather than an artist. The street art quotes created by WRDSMTH appear to be inspired by their life as writer in Hollywood with their canvas being a blank piece of paper and the paint being the carefully crafted words they create. The works always take the form of a typewriter with a sheet of paper appearing at the top with the quotes on, often cryptically inspirational and rather witty. They are perhaps my favourite among this selection of intriguing street art quotes.
Scampi appears to be a street artist based in Wellington, New Zealand and made all the more intriguing by the general lack of information other than a few photos. This piece is rather simple and again influenced by Banksy, whose style seems to fit perfectly with these street art quotes. This one simply states Follow Your Heart accompanied by a small girl holding onto a heart as if it is a pet dog, perhaps indicating that we can never truly follow our heart as there will always be outside restraints while the words may well have been painted red to represent blood from the heart!