An introduction to the most famous mural artists in the world

In this article, I’ve gathered the testimonies of 20 travelers who are passionate about street art. They will guide you through the artworks of some of the best mural artists in the world. These street artists are women and men whose work can be enjoyed by everyone for free, who have imprinted their ideas on the walls of our cities. Their art reminds us that everything we have built around us is ultimately a reflection of who we are and that we need to take responsibility for the life we create for ourselves and others.

20 of the best street mural artists in the world

While we stroll through the streets featuring some of the most spectacular murals in the world, we also get to learn a little about the names of the artists, their style, the themes they most frequently deal with.  And of course, in which places we can admire the works of the world’s most brilliant mural artists.

BLU

graffiti in Rome Italy by Blu, one of the best graffiti artists in the world
Artwork by Blu in Rome’s outskirts | Best graffiti artists in the world

Blu is a prolific Italian mural artist active in different parts of Italy and around the world. The artist prefers his identity to remain private. Blu’s works have been animating the Italian cities’ streets since the late 1990s. Originally from the Marche region, he has traveled Italy from north to south with his graffiti. In particular, he has marked the history of street art in Rome. He prefers to use brushes and rollers for his walls, although he has used sprays in the past. Blu’s art is characterized by a complex figuration that glues the eye to the wall, to follow its speech, even if sometimes this action involves swallowing a bitter pill. His murals are magnifying glasses on the human condition and involve the whole of society. Impossible to be in front of one of these works and not reflect, not sigh. The focus is on human small-mindedness, on how much society is poured into the strengthening of superficial and selfish values. The deepest values seem to have disappeared: justice, dignity, brotherhood, sharing.

One of his walls in Rome is entitled “Capita”, which in Italian means “it happens”, but is also the first part of the word “capitalism”. A tangle of slides like those in a water playground stretches from the top to the bottom of a building; most of the human figures land in a filthy puddle, while a few others in a crystal-clear pool full of comforts.

by Lisa of Travel Connect Experience

GUIDO VAN HELTEN

mural in Reykjavík Iceland by Guido Van Helten
Ural artwork in Reykjavík by Guido Van Helten, famous Australian mural artist

Guido van Helten is an Australian artist who is known for his amazing photorealistic murals.  He started as a graffiti artist but developed his style after studying visual arts at University. 

His best-known project is the Brim Silo Art project which involved large murals being painted on the grain silos in Brim, Victoria in Australia.   These huge 30-meter high grain silos were adorned with artwork bringing local issues to the notice of those seeing the artwork.

His works are on large scale but are still intimate and delicate.  The details are chosen to depict local elements and the local culture plays an important part in all of his work.  All of his work looks like a classic black and white photograph.  There is a vintage feel that is merged with the local culture and a modern twist.

In Iceland, his work can be seen in a number of different places.  The largest piece is in the dock area of Reykjavík where two females can be seen on the side of a two-story warehouse.  Smaller but impressive pieces can be seen in Heimaey on the Westman Islands and on the main street in Akureyri, the capital of the north.

By Suzanne of Meandering Wild

FINTAN MAGEE

Fintan Magee is a prolific muralist and artist born in Lismore in Northern NSW in Australia. His work often provides social commentary on issues that need discussion. Everything from the affordability of housing to global warming and forced migration. Along with these thought-provoking pieces are a mix of whimsical artworks that capture the joy of childhood and nature.

Magee, who has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Griffith University, QCA, tends to spend most of his time creating large-scale murals that combine realistic, almost photo-like quality with abstract design.  Human forms in everyday situations feature in his pieces creating a sense of affinity with the viewer.

His murals can be found across the world from Finland to Amman in Jordan, now in over 20 countries. Normally large scale and often taking up entire city buildings or even country water towers.

He is usually based in Sydney where you will find over 20 of Fintan Magee’s murals. He provides detailed descriptions of his artworks on his Instagram account where you can follow what he is up to now.  

 By Paula of Sydney Expert  

 

PABLO KALAKA

best mural artists in central America Cuba
Artwork by Pablo Kalaka in La Havana | Best mural artists in Cuba

Pablo Kalaka is a Chilean – Venezuelan muralist whose work can be found in several countries across the Americas, including Cuba, Mexico, the United States, and Venezuela. While his work has hung in museums, Kalaka’s most stunning and impactful pieces of art can be found in the streets, visible and accessible to all, a core value Kalaka expresses as an artist.

 While not often centered on overly political themes, Kalaka’s portrayal of the beauty and value of marginalized people groups and their cultural inheritance becomes a political statement. A recurring theme is indigenous people groups, especially painted in a way that focuses on their unique religious and cultural patrimony. In Kalaka’s work in Havana, Cuba, he portrays the “guajiros,” or farmworkers, as being leaders and offering cultural value to Cuba. He also has a series of pieces depicting deities from the African Yoruba religion, brought to Cuba with enslaved peoples and still widely practiced today.

You can learn more about Pablo Kalaka by watching Andrés Parra’s documentary short film about his work, Pablo, following his process of painting a mural at the University of Minnesota. He also shares his work and inspiration through his Instagram, @pablokalaka.

By Carley Rojas Avila of Home to Havana

GAGOSH

mural artists in Georgia
artwork in Zestafoni by Gagosh | Famous mural artists Georgia

Street art in Tbilisi didn’t exist for many years, but luckily the field is slowly emerging in Georgia’s capital. And Gagosh, Giorgi Gagoshidze, is one of its prominent street artists who creates installations, stencils, mosaics, and street poetry based on current social and political issues happening in the country and worldwide. 

Some of his most popular pieces are about the lack of green spaces in Tbilisi, unemployment, gender inequality, labor rights, social stigmas, local currency devaluation, and poverty, to name just a few.

He believes that showing protest of the current situations around us through art is more effective than any other kind. One of his recent pieces that appeared in Tbilisi was about racism and referring to the Black Lives Matter movement’s news. Therefore, all of his works have a message in them, and some are clear to understand, while others may not be.

Gagosh’s art can be found not only in Tbilisi but throughout the country. For instance, one of his pieces on gender equality is in the town of Zestafoni called Neat Writing. In the piece, a girl repeatedly writes on the blackboard a quote, “The lion’s whelps are equal be they male or female,”  from a Georgian medieval poem, The Knight in the Panther’s Skin. 

By Baia from Redfedoradiary

ChemiS, one of the most famous mural artists active in the Czech Republic

street mural artists in Europe, the Czech Republig
Artwork by ChemiS, one of the best street mural artists in the world | Czech Republic

ChemiS is a Czech street artist currently in his thirties, originally born in Kazakhstan. Street art started out as a passion for him at the age of 16 and became a way of how to travel the world. Nowadays, it’s his main source of income and helps support his family in Prague.

Most of ChemiS’s works can be found in the Czech Republic, but he’s painted vivid and beautiful murals all over the world including the United States, Mexico, Finland, Sweden, or Israel. One of his major accomplishments includes an invitation to paint a mural at the New York Hall of Fame. His favorite techniques are 3D and photorealism, as well as anamorphic painting.

He uses his art in support of important causes, such as when he traveled around Europe and created murals to draw attention to human rights in cooperation with Amnesty International.

His famous works of art include a mural in Israel portraying a young girl using a stethoscope on a wall of a hospital that was bombarded. He painted a portrait of a crying T.G. Masaryk (the founder of Czechoslovakia in 1918 and a subsequent president) in Olomouc, Czech Republic (on the photo). Another one of his famous murals is a Prayer for Paris created shortly after a terrorist attack. His works often portray the topic of conservation and sustainability.

 By Veronika Primm of Travel Geekery

 

RONE 

mural artists from Australia
Rone’s mural in Geelong, Australia | best mural artists in the world

Rone (Tyrone Wright) is an internationally renowned street artist known for his hauntingly beautiful images of women’s faces.

The Geelong born artist is based in Melbourne and is often credited with putting the city on the street art world map. His early works were created either through the process of stenciling or screen printing, but he now prefers the raw quality that comes from working freehand.

Rone creates huge images of almost cinematic quality on building walls that are often marked for demolition. One of his most challenging pieces was the transformation of the Geelong cement silos into gigantic works of art. The silos were painted with massive portraits of three everyday local people in celebration of the city’s past and future.

Rone’s work has been shown in galleries around the world including London, San Francisco, Berlin, and New York. Many of his local exhibitions take place in abandoned buildings scheduled for demolition. As the artist believes there’s power in the vulnerability of the medium, on the bridge of collapse, makes it more beautiful.

By Audrey Chalmers of See Geelong

Martin Ron, most prominent street mural artist in Buenos Aires

best street mural artists in the world
Mural art by Martin Ron, Buenos Aires

In a city filled with murals and graffiti, Martín Ron has painted nearly all of the best street art in Buenos Aires. He is not only one of the best (if not the best) street mural artists in Buenos Aires but is considered to be among the ten best artists in the world. His murals can be seen all over the city of Buenos Aires, as well as London, Penang, Bristol, Miami, and more. Ron’s style is hyperrealist with strong colors and textures. He’s even used 3D techniques to add dimension to some of his murals. 

He’s said of the surrealist features in some of his murals, “The surrealism is in the composition itself but the technique (of painting) is what is realistic, I like things that are surreal while at the same time it’s possible they are real.” Normal everyday items are used in fantastical ways to be realistic and surreal at the same time. 

Ron’s mural art is impactful not only for its stunning detail but sheer size, many works taking over an entire building or façade.  

In 2010 he started work as the Artistic Director of “Embellecimiento Urbano” or Urban Beautification in an area of the Buenos Aires province. It resulted in 250 murals in the area with various other mural artists.  

He also paints on canvas but his true love will always be street art, where he can interact with people and present his artwork and process to the public, step by step. 

By Erin Mushaway from Solsalute

Okuda San Miguel

Okuda San Miguel (Oscar San Miguel Erice) is a street artist, painter, and sculpturer whose works of art you don’t want to miss. He was born in Santander (northern Spain), lives in Madrid, and his creations are scattered all over the world.

It’s easy to recognize his street mural art because it’s all about geometric shapes and bright, lively rainbow colors (which are sometimes combined with grayscale colors). His work is categorized as pop surrealism and usually includes people and animals. It focuses on existentialism, the meaning of life, and the conflict between our human roots and modernity.

The project that made him internationally famous is called Kaos Temple. This old, abandoned church in Llanera (region of Asturias, Spain) was purchased and turned into a skate park, and Okuda got to paint its interiors. From then, he usually paints giant murals and even covers entire buildings with his beautiful art. In fact, his tallest outdoor mural is painted on a 23-floor residential building in Toronto.

You can find other creations of his in Madrid, Budapest, New York, Lima, Perth, Morocco, Taiwan, and many other destinations around the world. Each mural is inspired by the local culture, but his distinctive artistic style remains. 

By Or from My Path in the World

 

PHLEGM

mural artists in Sheffield, UK
Mural art by Phlegm in Sheffield | street mural artists

Welsh-born muralist Phlegm is based in the UK city of Sheffield. His name comes from the ancient Greek theory of the Four Temperaments – four substances that govern the human psyche, with phlegm supposedly being responsible for the human capacity for apathy and emotional detachment.

Starting out as a cartoonist before moving into street art, Phlegm’s surrealist style is almost exclusively monochromatic and features a recurring character (or characters, as they often appear in multiples) in a striped, hooded top covering the face, and long boots. The scenes he paints are often dreamlike and fantastical in nature, with various elaborate creatures and machines being wrangled and/or assembled by his masked character(s), as well as plenty of seemingly impossible bricked and turreted buildings.

With many of Phlegm’s pieces, he incorporates designs to fit into pre-existing structures, as he believes that street art becomes part of the architecture of a city. This means windows, pipes, and outcroppings often become integral parts of his murals, which can be seen in countries such as Germany, Poland, Spain, Sri Lanka, Australia, Canada, the USA and more, and has created plenty of pieces across the UK, as well as some of the best street art in Sheffield. 

In 2019 Phlegm had an exhibition in Sheffield entitled Mausoleum of the Giants, which featured enormous, three-dimensional sculptures of his drawings which visitors could walk amongst.

by Jeremy from Cultura Obscura

 

INTI

famous street artists
Valparaiso, Chile

For many years, Valparaiso in Chile has had a reputation for outstanding street art. This trend fosters a lot of local talent and some have become famous well beyond their home city. INTI is an indigenous artist born in this city and is well-known for his murals all over the world. INTI means “Sun God” in the traditional Quechua language. He started graffiti in the mid-90s and refined his style with a deep sense of his native roots.

A lot of Inti’s work is characterized by warm gold and orange shades, counterbalanced with dark hues of deep blue and purple. Many of his faces have the typical indigenous features of South Americans, even though he often gives them the appearance of a doll or mask.

Recently, during a street art festival, he finished his latest large-scale wall on a house in Grenoble, France. Once you know his style, you will notice his unique murals on buildings in France, Belgium, Spain, Germany, Poland, Norway, Slovakia, Turkey, Lebanon, the USA, Peru, Puerto Rico, Mexico, India and – of course – in his native homeland of Chile.

When you visit Chile, don’t skip a walk through Valparaiso’s street art. It’s a very unique city with old wooden houses stacked up on steep hills and often covered in amazingly colorful pieces.

by Jurgen from Dare2go

Introducing some of the best female street mural artists in the world

SWOON

female street mural artists Swoon
Artwork by Swoon in Oaxaca | Best female mural artists in the world

When looking for the best street artists in the world you can’t miss out on Swoon. Born in the USA this female artist has managed to paste her paper portraits all over the world and grab the attention of millions of passers-by. She started doing her work outside whilst in school and started to sell her art to friends and people who had tracked her down from the streets. Her work which is very detail orientated started in the street and these days can be seen in some of the most prestigious museums and galleries around the world.

Swoon’s style emphasizes a mixture of fine drawing, printmaking, and wheat-paste which brings to life real human-sized figures and are almost always close to the ground. Whilst looking for things to do in Oaxaca in Mexico I came across more than one of Swoon’s paper portraits. As she has said in her own words; street art is a healthy practice of a healthy city and to have people make new things and put artwork outside is part of the visual creation of their neighborhood. Swoon did an art installation at Brooklyn museum which attracted people from all walks of life including well-known celebrities. 

by Daniel of Layer Culture

best mural artists Ruth Knapp
Ruth Knapp’s mural in Norwich, UK

RUTH KNAPP

The street art scene in Norwich, the UK’s most complete medieval city, has been booming in recent years.  One of the local artists leading the charge is Ruth Knapp.

Since 2015, Knapp has been adding color to the streets of Norwich. Many of her murals also convey important messages about the principles she feels strongly about: freedom of speech, enlightenment, and racial justice. When she can, she pushes the boundaries and adds a sense of humor. Her work will make you smile and think.

She made the news in June 2020, when her Black Lives Matter mural was accidentally painted over. The Norwich City Council received online complaints and without reviewing the details, directed a contractor to remove the mural. To make amends for the oversight, Norwich City Council commissioned Knapp to paint another mural.

You can find her street murals throughout the Norwich city center, just look for her signature KNAPPLE or a colorful pineapple.  Be sure to check out all the artwork in the Pottergate Underpass and the smaller murals in the St. Stephen’s Street Underpass.  

By Anisa from Norfolk Local Guide

 

AKSE P19

street mural artists in Manchester, UK
Mural by Akse in Manchester | Best mural artists in the UK

Akse P19 is a French mural artist who has grown to become the most famous street artist in Manchester, UK. His style is very distinctive. He only paints photo-realistic portraits, mainly of pop culture icons. His pieces are often displayed on Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter, the most famous street art spot in Manchester.

Mancunians love his work and usually can’t wait for a new mural to pop up. He always paints something that has to do with the current events which included portraits of: 

– David Bowie (when he died)

– Arya Stark (when she killed the Night King)

– George Floyd (when he was killed in 2020)

And plenty more! His work often goes viral on social media!

Akse P19 values his anonymity and although you can find him on Twitter and Instagram, you will rarely hear of any opinions he may have. That having been said, it’s safe to assume that he loves Manchester. He’s been shaping the face of Manchester street art for years and often paints portraits of famous Mancunians who, themselves, shaped the city. This includes Liam Gallagher and Tony Wilson.

Although you can find his work in many places around the world, the best place to do so is Manchester. There are several murals of his in the Northern Quarter, Castlefield, Rusholme, Burnage, and Ancoats. He also painted for local bars and restaurants such as the Pen and Pencil. Akse P19 is part of the street art group P19 which includes other French artists such as Tcho, Pener, and Bab2.

by Pauline of Beeloved City

JanIsDeMan, one of the most important street artists in Europe

JanIsDeMan is a pseudonym for Jan Heinsbroek. He mostly works in Utrecht. Jan Started with graffiti at the age of twelve, a rebellious teen. His style is either really precise and detailed paintings or illusion like paintings.

He’s one of the most important contributors to street art in Utrecht. In Monicahof he painted a wedding proposal in 2012 (she said yes). In 2017 he painted it over with the word Utrecht. It looks like it’s chiseled in stone. He also painted a word search recently in Utrecht on the street Graafschap.

He likes to incorporate the people in the neighborhood so that everyone gets a positive feeling from his street art. For instance, in the bookcase mural on Amsterdamsestraatweg, the books are the favorites of the people in the neighborhood. This mural went viral in 2019. It gave him international attention and assignments. He painted bookcases in London and Boulogne-sur-Mer.

He experiences that a lot of people still think negatively about graffiti. They find it ok when it’s called street art, but when not commissioned they’re not open for it.

Suggested by Cosette, from Kars Travels.

ERNEST ZACHAREVIC

best mural artists in Southeast Asia
Ernest Zacharevic, Man on Motorbike, Penang

Since 2012, the Malaysian island of Penang has become quite famous around the world for its murals. Penang street art was kick-started by a Lithuanian mural artist, Ernest Zacharevic, as part of the “Mirrors George Town” project during the George Town Festival in 2012.

One of these 6 pieces of street art, “Two Children on a Bicycle” — which Zacharevic painted in Armenian Street by installing a real bicycle frame into an old crumbling wall, and taking two of his local friends’ children as models — was listed among the world’s best works of street art by British newspaper the Guardian in 2013. This boosted the fame of Penang as a street art hub in Asia and internationally, and also helped Zacharevic’s career kick off both in Southeast Asia and around the world. He went on to paint in other Malaysian cities like Ipoh and Johor Bharu, in Singapore, Tokyo, the United States, and many European countries, including Italy, Iceland, and more.

His realistic style has often been compared to Banksy’s, yet Zacharevic’s distinctive feature is his ability to move freely between mediums: from oil painting to stencil, spray, installation, and sculpture, Ernest has tried and blended them all. But he’s probably most famous for mural art and his work in Penang which, truth be told, has also initiated quite a horrible process of gentrification in the UNESCO-protected colonial George Town. In 2019, Zacharevic commented on his Instagram that he contemplated just painting over “Two Children on a Bicycle” to stop the tourist circus in Armenian Street and George Town. But not surprisingly, the mural (and the many others) is still there — the state government is still exploiting street art as its golden goose, and Zacharevic has moved on, focusing elsewhere.    

by Marco Ferrarese of Penang Insider

17 YC Yip 

 Yip Yew Chong (YC Yip) is a Singapore mural artist with an appreciation of the history of street art in Asia and historic Singapore. After a career in finance, YC decides to paint full-time in 2015, inspired by the Lithuanian Ernest Zacharevic, one of the instigators of Street art in Penang.  He mainly paints murals with scenes from his childhood in Singapore, before the modernization of the City/State. You can find his street art all over Singapore (Chinatown, Tiong Bahru, Ang Mo Kio, the National Museum of Singapore). He has also painted in Penang (Malaysia) and Phnom Penh (Cambodia). YC Always places a cat in his murals—sometimes it can be challenging to find. One of his most interesting pieces in Singapore can be found at the National Library at Waterloo Street. 

Lisa Mam, female mural artist in Cambodia

Lisa Mam was the first female street mural artist in Cambodia. When not painting on the streets, she is a dentist with a private practice. Dr. Mam comes from a family of medical professionals and artists. She’s the first to take it out onto the streets. She became a street artist about 10 years ago while she was still in school. And, it wasn’t easy to be the only female street artist.

Street art with a Khmer influence is her style. Lisa often collaborates with New Zealand/Cambodia street and graffiti artist Peap Tarr. Street art in Phnom Penh can be difficult to find and not very permanent. Most of the places that she has painted have been torn down. Like many local artists, Lisa also takes commissions and has some excellent indoor murals. You can also find her work in Bangkok, France, and New Zealand.

by Sue of Travel For Life Now

Eduardo Kobra, the Brazilian mural artist sentenced to paint!

Mural art by Eduardo Kobra, famous Brazilian street mural artists
Tajapo, by Eduardo Kobra, Olympic Boulevard Rio de Janeiro | most famous mural artist in Brazil

The Brazilian street-artist Eduardo Kobra was born in São Paulo in 1975. Like many muralists, he started as a subversive, illegal tagger. Consequently, he got arrested three times for his work. Illegal, but also very talented: one of the judges was so impressed by Kobra’s skills that he sentenced him to….paint. He was commissioned to create a mural on the wall of a police station!

Eventually, Eduardo Kobra was given the chance to make a living through his art by designing posters and painting toy sets. Here, too, his talent was quickly acknowledged and the jobs got better and more sophisticated.

Today, Kobra is mostly famous for his hyper-realistic portraits. In his iconic graphic patterns of geometric shapes in bold colors, he’s portraying celebrities as well as common people – often with a socio-political message. To this date, Kobra painted more than 500 pieces on walls in many Brazilian cities. However, he also decorated surfaces in 20 other countries around the world.

Kobra’s most spectacular work is probably “Ethnicities”, a mural of five indigenous portraits that he created on the occasion of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. For a couple of months, he held the world record for having created the world’s largest street mural.

by Renata Green of Bye Myself

HEESCO

famous mural artists in the world, Heesco
Artwork by Heesco in Yarram, Victoria | famous mural artists in the world

People roam the world looking for street art in some of the most famous cities across the globe. Some done by notorious graffiti artists and some by lesser-known but how many times do you read about a small farming community in rural Victoria coming alive with street art created by a famous mural artist?  That artist is Heesco and the town is Yarram, in Victoria Australia.

Yarram is located about 2 hours 45 minutes from Melbourne and with a population of just over 2000 it seems like an unlikely place for street art. 

Originally from Mongolia Heesco now calls Melbourne Australia home. Heesco is known for doing some of the large silos in New South Wales on the Silo art trail and while Yarram does not have any large silos it had a lot of walls that needed some love and color.

Heesco spent 6 weeks during the first Victorian lockdown painting these walls and they are magnificent. There are 10 currently dotted around Yarram in places like the golf club, a motel, on a wall between shops, and on the side of a cafe. A bar in town also has artwork on their walls. They are based on locals in the area and tell a story about them or how they came to make Yarram home. Some are large and some are small but they are all bright and make Yarram such an interesting place to visit. You can easily walk the streets between the murals or you can drive your car but these artworks that cannot be missed.

by Bec from Travels in Gippsland

 

most famous mural artists world
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I’d love to add a few more female street mural artists to this article. If you love street art and can contribute with an introduction and photos of murals, get in touch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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16 thoughts on “An introduction to the most famous mural artists in the world”

  1. I love coming across street art wherever I am. It is really interesting to find out more about the artists behind the art. I will look out for these on my travels.

    Reply
  2. What gorgeous murals- I am very fascinated by the creativity involved with street art. We have a district here in New Delhi where there are about 70 murals painted through out the entire colony and they are just unbelievably good!

    Reply
  3. I love this! I am obsessed with the St. Mungos mural in Glasgow and really connect with the political murals of Northern Ireland. This gives me so much more to look into….

    Reply
  4. I absolutely love chasing street art all over the world. It is a great free activity to do in a city when you are on a budget but so often I have no idea who the artist is or what their background is.
    Thanks so much for this post and the information with it has provided me with a great outlook on some I have seen on my travels and now I know who did them!
    Hopefully, I can find a few more on your list in the future and I’ll have all the information on them right here.

    Reply
    • Hey Serena!
      I intentionally did not include Banksy in this post because he’s very well-known and popular. Wanted to give room to other artists, of course I recognize and appreciate his work. Have a great day!

      Reply

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