Step into 3D street art

January 20, 2014

Street art comes in many shapes and sizes, and certainly, one of its forms is the largely popular and loved 3D street art. It is probably one of the most literal forms of street art, as it is most often painted directly on streets, sidewalks and walking surfaces. Named also as pavement art or sidewalk art, it is commonly referred to as chalk art, since chalk is the principal artistic medium of sidewalk artists.

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Eduardo Relero - El Gran Guru - Seville, Spain

Chalk art

This 3D form of graffiti is actually a two-dimensional picture that, when observed from a certain angle, gives an illusion of a 3D object, landscape or figures. The style of chalk art is realistic, hyperrealistic even, rendered perfectly, to the best ability of a particular artist. The experience chalk art creates is often entirely captivating, as it conjures a new world within our grey everyday reality. Its character is ephemeral, due to the chalk medium, as it is meant to be for any passing entertainment of the masses.

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Chalk art

3-D Graffiti

3D street art comes in different designs. There are references to 3D within the realm of what is generally considered graffiti and street art, and some of the artists have taken it a step further, creating a tangible 3D technique, such as yarn bombing.

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Odeith - 3D Octopus

Ron English

Influences of 3D street art are visible throughout the body of work of some of the most revered street and urban artists today. Ron English, for example, is famous for his ingenious renderings of pop icons and brand imagery. These artistic interpretations overtly exude 3D quality, disclosing the artist’s mastery of each technique, as well as their ability to play with illusion, distorting the images in strange or unexpected ways. Some of his 3D graffiti are without a doubt inspired by chalk art, but Ron English has taken this attractive form of painting to a higher level, giving it a lasting quality.

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Left: Ron English/ Right: Olek and Ron English


Another impressive example of 3D graffiti art is the work of a street artist called MTO. This interesting artist is known for creating large scale murals depicting various portraits of people, usually exploiting entire sides of buildings. The gigantic black&white figures are sometimes accentuated by a dash of protruding, suggestive color, as they sit, sleep, read, talk, eat and coexist with the rest of the world. Undoubtedly talented, MTO has used the best features of 3D effect to his advantage when he painted his massive murals in Rennes, France, one of which resembles a giant from a fairy tale who is trying to get something, or someone out of a normal sized house. MTO gives his murals the fun, imaginative and narrative quality 3D art often lacks, and durable character, since his graffiti are done with permanent paint.

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MTO mural in Sarasota Florida

Yarn bombing

Another interesting take on 3D graffiti comes in the form of yarn bombing. This [illegal] phenomenon is also called  yarn storming, guerrilla knitting, urban knitting, graffiti knitting or, my personal favorite - kniffiti. It is a form of street art dedicated to livening-up the cold and austere urban areas by graffiti made out of knitted, or crocheted yarn instead of paint. This method gives the space a particular tactility, warmth, and homely feel that the classic, painted graffiti do not have, but it also makes it temporary in essence, since it is easily removed. The yarn bombing interpretation of 3D is exact, as it is more of an installation than painting.

3D street art


One of the most interesting and prolific kniffiti artists today is Olek, a New York based cheerful creative activist of Polish origin. Her vividly colored, happy and deliberately kitschy yarn creations cover numerous walls, monuments, indoor spaces, furniture of small, pretty items. Some are placed guerilla-style, some are framed in galleries, but all preach the same message of freedom.

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Olek – Crocheted Object – Clock

3D Street Art - History

3D street art is an old urban tradition, originating in the 19th century Britain. The urban population was proven grateful when it was offered an alternative to the grey, smokey, industrialized surroundings. These fantastic images have greatly evolved since, but the tradition of executing the short-lasting chalk pictures on sidewalks and squares remains, as it will always attract attention and entertain the passers-by with its imaginative and captivating nature.

3D Street Art
3D Street Art

3D Street Art
3D Street Art

3D Street Art
Left: Kurt Wenner - Disaster, 2011/ Right: Nikolaj Arndt - 3D Street Art

All images for illustrative purposes only

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