Know their story, find their glory.
NYC streets and buildings are rife with unique art. With many different styles and many different representations, NYC’s street artists have developed their own signature of self-expression to be viewed by the masses. For many, street art is to be passed without a second thought. However, with every painting, tag, wheat pasting, and sticker, there is a story and a person behind it. These stories often go unremarked, yet for their distinctiveness, they deserve to be known. Here are 5 hidden-gems sprawled across NYC.
Anna, a graffiti artist from Brooklyn, has been in the game since 2016, tagging her infamous “ANNA!” throughout various locations in NYC. In an interview with Jetset Times, Anna shared the meaning of her to-the-point tag and her style of graffiti. “Sometimes an exclamation point could mean sarcasm. I felt like my name, Anna, was too structured, so adding the exclamation point added something to it.” To Anna, her art is a way to deal with her emotions; by painting her name in well-known locations, Anna cannot only make her mark but also let others know that she is here and here to stay.
Anna’s tag could be seen throughout Manhattan, from tall apartment buildings to mailboxes, trucks, fire hydrants, and deep inside the tunnels of the NYC subway system. On her Instagram, @annatelevison, as well as her website, annatelevision.com, Anna has given her fans a sneak peek into the thrilling life of an underground graffiti artist (literally). She showcases her adventure in subway systems and the day that she tagged the infamous Houston Bowery Wall. For Anna, tagging is a means of cementing her mark on the city, “If I’m not in your direct line of sight, I don’t exist. That’s why I write my name everywhere, to exist.”
Ethan Armen is an 11-year old artist originally from New York City. According to Ethan’s Instagram (that is run by his father), Humenbote was inspired by one of Ethan’s favorite toys, a miniature representation of the human body. Originally called “Huminboty,” Humenbote has evolved into the renowned street art through strategic wheat pastings done by his father. Now more than a red crayon drawing, Humenbote has been plastered around the world in places like New York City, London, Australia, and parts of Spain. Humenbote and its many variants have captivated viewers since its inception. The humanoid character brings a unique, cryptic, and child-like sentiment for those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Ethan’s work.
A Brooklyn-based street artist is known for her avant-garde use of everyday curbside discarded items as a canvas for her portrait drawings, Erenthal creates art featuring personal messages with existential meaning. Her art, ranging from the political statement, “We need more artists in the streets” wheat plastered on the streets of Montreal, to the personal mantra “Art will never stop” painted on an abandoned plank of wood. Erenthal uses her unique portrait style of art as an outlet for her emotions. She has painted on mattresses depicting love or the anxiety of sex, on mirrors describing her physical and emotional insecurities, or on TVs showcasing her innate desire for better news amid the coronavirus pandemic. Erenthal is proud to share her emotions in such a public manner, she also uses her art as an outlet to let others know that they are not alone in their feelings. A piece from 2019 painted on random sidewalk furniture best encapsulates her art, “This is my journal.”
The striking blue and violet stickers that have been decorating NYC lampposts, fire hydrants, and signs alike all belong to one band, Shinobi Ninja. The Brooklyn based band has been around since 2008. It consists of 6 members, Baby G, Alien Lex, Duke Sims, Kid Shreddi, Axis Powers, and Terminator Dave. Shinobi Ninja offers their listeners multiple genres with their music, from Rock to Hip Hop, Metal, and Reggae. The band is able to seamlessly blend their aesthetic branding to their promotional stickers all over NYC. In 2017, Shinobi Ninja released their album Bless Up, which has garnered almost 50,000 listens on Spotify alone! On their website, they sell these iconic stickers for $1, so fans can also contribute to the band’s flashy advertising.
5. Graffiti Stickers
Graffiti stickers are the way for everyone to join in on leaving their mark across New York City. Usually, these personalized stickers are made from either plain sticker labels, labels from USPS or the classic “Hello My Name Is” stickers with handwritten multi-colored tags. Initially started in the 1980s, Graffiti Stickers have become one of the easiest ways to disperse self-expression in the smallest corners of the city.
Street art is a vital piece of what makes NYC streets so unique. Next time you’re taking a stroll through the streets, look around, and you might be lucky enough to see some of these iconic works of art for yourself!