Best Street Art in LONDON – Part II: Shoreditch

In the first part on urban art in London, I guided you through Camden Town where there’s barely a street you can walk down without spotting some amazing murals. In this post, I’m proving that it gets even bigger’n’better by introducing you to the best street art in Shoreditch in the Eastern part of London – since that’s where it basically all began.

Mural in Shorditch. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Nuff Said.

Street Art in London

The history of street art in London can be traced back to the underground music and art scenes that emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This was the heyday of mods, skinheads, and punks. But let’s not forget the teenagers in the neighborhoods that were predominantly inhabited by migrants from the Commonwealth like for instance Brixton. There, street art was rather influenced by the hip-hop movement coming over from the US in the 1980s. Either way, graffiti was primarily about setting a sign and gaining acceptance within a particular peer group. The fact that it was illegal to paint on public walls and dangerous to spray on trains only added to the myth’n’hype.

Connectivity Matters, the largest mural in all of Great Britain, embellishes Colt Technology’s London headquarters. Many of London's best street artists participated in this project.
Connectivity Matters, the largest mural in all of Great Britain, embellishes Colt Technology’s London headquarters. Many of London’s best street artists participated in this project.

Although graffiti is still technically illegal in London, gone are the days when spraying walls as a whole was considered vandalism. Over the years, murals became an important part of contemporary art

Advert Mural in Shoreditch London
Yes, it’s beautiful, however, at the end of the day, it’s just an ad.

With the popularity of street artists like Banksy, however, there are cases where artists are commissioned to create pieces on the sides of individual buildings. It’s fantastic that artists have the chance to legally put their work out there and make a living. However, I have mixed feelings when it comes to agencies that facilitate commissional work for artists so that globally operating companies can maintain a hip and trendy image.

Street Art in Shoreditch

If you ask me, that’s not the idea of street art as it totally loses its swag. No matter how talented a street artist is – and some of them have just incredible skills – as soon as a questionable global player like Starbucks commissions you to embellish their facade, it drains even the last drop of subversion from your piece, obviously. I’d argue that creating a so-called advert mural is just one step from just white-washing a house.

Yet, the area around Shoreditch, Brick Lane, and Spitalfields maintained its subversive attitude considerably more than let’s say, Camden, at least when it comes to urban art; and that’s what were are dealing with in this post, after all.

Shoreditch had become a popular location for urban artists in the 1990s. Especially in the beginning, it was a tool to mark territories and push back authorities. However, gentrification could not be stopped completely. Today – especially at weekends – groups of tourists push their way through the famous Spitalfield market and through Brick Lane.

Greffiti in Shoreditch.
Yap, definitely a little bit of everything.

What’s nice is that Shoreditch, despite its popularity, has preserved a mix of dissimilar street art: There are the large, oftentimes commissioned murals, yet, there are still tons of old-school graffiti, stencils, and tags. This multitude makes the neighborhood an excellent hunting ground in your chase after London’s best street art.

The Artists

While I organized my posts on street art in Camden as a walking tour, in this post, I’m listing the artists and their most outstanding works alphabetically. The area is simply too widespread to design an itinerary that caters to everyone’s interests. Hence, I introduce the work and its location and leave it to you to put your route together according to the map at the end of this post.

However, note that I got to see all these pieces in one afternoon. If you follow my example, you should plan about three hours since there will be many detours.

Mohammed Ali aka Aerosol Arabic

Actually, Aerosol’s larger-than-life mural commemorating Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence in 2021 is a great place to start your tour since it’s at the entrance to the famous Brick Lane.

Mural by Aerosol Arabic. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch
Free at last: Mural commemorating Bangladesh’s 50th anniversary of independence.

After welcoming waves of immigrants from different regions, Brick Lane is now home to migrants from Bangladesh. Due to a colorful street market and a vast number of South Asian eateries, it also developed into one of London’s many tourist attractions.

In Brick Lane’s southern end is a huge mural by Mohammed Ali aka Aerosol Arabic, a street artist based in Birmingham. It’s no incident that this artist was picked for the painted tribute to the local community as he is known for using his craft to support migrant neighborhoods. As a matter of fact, Aerosol Arabic has been a pioneer when it comes to merging urban art with Islamic script and iconography. This way, he has created powerful murals, installations, and performances for about two decades now.

In 2008, he founded the art project Soul City Arts which connects artists and activists with communities.

Ayo Blake

Ayo Blake is a London Street artist currently living in Barcelona. He specializes in expressive monochrome portraits, often in black and white. His main inspiration comes from African art, culture, people, and traditions.

Mural by Ayo Blake. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
He’s looking at you, kid.

Apart from painting on walls, Blade also creates canvases and designed tattoos. He also organizes workshops.

Benzi Brofman

Benzi Brofman is an urban artist from Migdal Haemek in northern Israel. He is an autodidact and has never formally studied any art-related subject. Yet, apart from painting murals around the world, Brofman embellishes walls for restaurants, companies, and even municipalities.

Mural by Benzi Brofman. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
A mural in memory of the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust.

He also organizes workshops and lectures on street art and offers so-called graffiti parties for kids.

Mural by Benzi Brofman. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Here we have Ms Wednesday….

Brofman has portrayed many Israeli celebrities but also artists like Freddie Mercury, Tina Turner, the Beatles, and Keith Haring, to name just very few. His murals can be found all over Israel as well as in Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Vienna.

Mural by Benzi Brofman. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
….and at the corner Mr. Tupac Shakur.

CP Won

Claudio Picasso aka CP Won – which is a corruption of one – was born in Chile and raised in Miami. When he was only 15, he developed his passion for the bold colors, artful lettering, and monumental scale of graffiti and murals. Hence, despite having studied various forms of visual arts, spray painting walls has remained Claudio’s greatest infatuation for over twenty years now. He is one of Miami’s most acknowledged urban artists.

Mural by CP Won. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Portraits of historicist sculptures are CP Won’s specialty.

True to his last name, Claudio cannot deny being a fine artist. His hyper-realistic, oftentimes monochromatic creations show an artful rendering, smooth gradients, and masterful shading.

You get to see his amazing murals all over the US. His equally beautiful canvases are found in private collections around the world.

Cranio

Like many great muralists, Cranio comes from São Paulo. Cranio’s real name is actually Fabio de Oliveira Parnaiba. His pseudonym, however, translates to skull in Portuguese.

Mural by Cranio. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Cranio’s Blue Indian enjoying a calumet in front of a Shisha bar.

In 1998, he began beautifying the walls of his hometown. Today, you can find his works in many other cities such as Berlin and Hamburg.

A blue Indian, a representative of Brazil‘s indigenous people, is the artist’s trademark. Although Cranio’s Indians appear cheerful and comic-like, they should point out problems such as consumption, corruption, and environmental degradation.

I introduced Cranio in former posts on street art in Amsterdam, Berlin, and Hamburg.

Dreph 

Neequaye Dreph Dsane was born in Nottingham to Ghanaian parents in 1973. He now lives in London and is known for large-scale portraits.

Mural by Dreph. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch
One of ten women portrayed in the series You Are Enough.

Dreph holds a BA in Art, Design, and Media from Portsmouth University where he is a lecturer in the field of illustration.

In 2017, he paid tribute to ten women of African and Caribbean descent by portraying them in a series of murals called You Are Enough. In about three decades, Dreph left his mark on walls on every continent.

Fanakapan

Jay Fanakapan started his career as a street artist in Bournemouth and Bristol in 2000. After completing his art studies, he made props for TV stations like MTV, Nickelodeon, and the BBC.

Today, Fanakapan is based in London and is famous for his hyper-realistic depictions of mostly inflatable objects. From a distance, you might think the balloons in all forms and shapes are real. This is obviously due to his incredible talent and his skill to spray paint precise highlights and shadows.

To the house façade on Pedley Street, he contributed a large balloon in the shape of a 5. I’m introducing this wall below. It is a cooperation between HICKS, Jim Vision, ThisOne, and Fanakapan, obviously.

I’m introducing Fanakapan also in my post about London’s street art in Camden.

HICKS

Ed Hicks was born in Great Britain in 1982. As a muralist and illustrator, he is mainly known for his landscapes. Around 2007, he started off with traditional graffiti letterings. Over time, his portraits and landscapes became more ornate and intricate.

This amazing house facade is a cooperation between Fanakapan, HICKS, Jim Vision, and Thisone.
This amazing house façade is a cooperation: Thisone designed the flowers to the very left. Behind, you see a landscape created by HICKS. The right wall is mostly covered by an ornate female portrait created by Jim Vision. Above her head floats a balloon by Fanakapan.

In many of his works, the absence of people leaves room for interpretation as well as total immersion of the onlookers.

HUNTO

Renato Hunto is originally from Brindisi in southern Italy where he started painting walls around 1997. He was part of the hip-hop movement and also a breakdancer.

Mural by Renato Hunto. Best Street Art in London Shorditch.
Inhabitants of Huntoland. This work is part of the mural Connectivity Matters on Colt Technology’s London Head Quarter.

What started out as simple tagging developed over the years in a distinctive style influenced by cubism. However, Hunto adds some truly bold colors and fun shapes

Today, Hunto resides in London. You’ll spot his immediately recognizable work in many places around the city but also in Spain, Germany, and Canada.

Jim Vision

Jim Vision grew up in the Welsh town of Barry. However, on his creative journey, he anchored in Shoreditch in the early 2000s. Here, he found the perfect grounds to leave his thought-provoking marks dealing with political and environmental issues.

Jim Vision's contribution to the collaboration on Pedley Street.
Jim Vision’s contribution to the collaboration on Pedley Street that I’m introducing above.

He often works together with other street artists. Also, he and his partner Matilda Tickner-Du founded EndoftheLine, a platform for commissioning and promoting urban art on a less commercializing level than for instance the Global Street Art agency.

Mural by Jim Vision. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Another one of my favorite pieces is this hippie lady in a flashy 70s style.

Jim Vision has painted the walls in Amsterdam, Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, and Miami, to name just a few, as well as on airplanes. Yes, that’s correct: He’s also decorating airplanes.

Jimmy C.

James Cochran aka Jimmy C. was born in England but grew up in Australia. He was a vital member of the graffiti movement in the early 1990s. Eventually, he graduated with a Masters degree in Visual Arts from the University of South Australia.

Mural by Jimmy C.
A mural like a pointillistic painting from the 19th century.

Actually, you notice the academic training in the quality of his murals as well as his oil paintings. In the course of this, he also developed his typical style by fusing graffiti and oil painting. The end result is his signature aerosol pointillist style: Motifs created entirely from dots and dashes of spray paint. Eventually, this technique evolved into compositions of layers of colored drips or lines that finally result in delicate portraits and cityscapes.

Mural by Jimmy C.
Dots everywhere.

Jimmy C. is based in London. His murals as well as his canvases can be admired in many places around the world.

Jay Kaes

Jay Kaes was born in Spain in 1985. Today, he is based in London, however, his murals can be spotted in many places around the world.

People strolling through Brick Lane.
A stroll down Hanbury Street.

At first glance, his vibrant work in clear colors reminds you of pop art paintings. However, by including and visualizing an interrelation of art and technology, Kaes adds a whole different level. As he incorporates the latest technology of augmented reality into many of his pieces, he enables the onlooker to interact and immerse in the work. His way of combining street art and technology is quite innovative and very alluring.

Mr. Cenz

Julian Phetean aka Mr. Cenz was born in 1975. He discovered graffiti and the whole hip-hop culture at a very early age. As a matter of fact, legend has it that he was commissioned to paint a mural for the first time at the tender age of eleven!

Mural by Mr. Cenz
Let’s see what who holds the future.

After getting into trouble with the law a few times for illegal spraying, he decided to pursue a legal artist route. Hence, he professionalized his skills during College and University and is now a professional graffiti artist.

Mural by Mr. Cenz
Mystic symbols everywhere.

His trademark are female faces that he portrays after photographs and arranges in cosmic and mysterious settings. This way, he leaves his work very open to interpretation. Mr. Cenz has presented his enigmatic work in solo shows and on commissioned walls around the world.

Mural by Mr. Cenz on Fashion Street
Portrait on Fashion Street – decorated by a couple of garbage bags.

OBEY

Who doesn’t know Mr. Frank Shepard Fairey? Whereby, his pseudonym OBEY might sound more familiar to you. Born in 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina, this street artist, graphic designer, and illustrator has been around for quite a while.

His first claim to fame was his André the Giant Has a Posse sticker campaign. In 1997, he co-founded the design agency BLK/MRKT, specializing in guerrilla marketing campaigns. Customers were none less than Pepsi, Hasbro, and Netscape. In 2003, Fairey left BLK/MRKT and established his own agency called Studio Number One. Also, this whizz-kid launched the fashion label OBEY clothing in 2001.

Mural by OBEY. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch
André the Giant made from bricks.

Fairey achieved greater notoriety during the 2008 US presidential election campaign with his iconic poster HOPE for Barack Obama. It is actually only the most famous of a series of posters that he designed for the Obama campaign. Eventually, he endorsed Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders in the 2016 United States presidential primary. He also had a major appearance in the legendary street art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop by British artist Banksy 2010.

I introduced OBEY in former posts on street art in Berlin, Hamburg, Málaga, Paris, and Vienna.

Phlegm 

Phlegm is a muralist and artist from Wales. He is world-renowned for surrealistic motifs including architectural features like turrets and stairways as well as fantastic creatures. His intertwined fantasy worlds remind me a bit of the aesthetics and technique of M. C. Escher.

Mural by Phlegm
Surreal drawings like from a mysterious tale.

His fantastic motifs consist of complex details painted in precise strokes, mostly in black and white. Phlegm considers each of these drawings as a part of a gigantic illustration that extends around the world. Apart from walls, he decorated airplanes, boats, and vehicles. Also, he participated in many street art projects for instance in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Italy, Norway, Poland, SpainSri Lanka, and the USA – to name just a few.

I introduced Phlegm in my post JIDAR Street Art Festival – How Rabat Celebrates International Urban Art

QUINT

Originally from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, Quint now resides on the beautiful island of Bali. There, he became an avid member and an important part of the local street art scene.

Mural by Quint. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Take a close look: Her necklace is embellished with Quint’s tag.

Quint signature pieces are stenciled. The consists of 4 layers of painstakingly designed stencils which he hand cuts himself.

All the ladies Quint depicts in his stencils are friends of his. He portrays them as very feminine yet with a rather fierce and rebellious expression. Is this his way of mocking the authorities who were not able to stop him from embellishing Bali’s walls?

Mural by Quint. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
First I thought this was Anna Wintour…

Either way, you’ll find his immediately recognizable pieces not only in Bali, but also in Berlin, Paris, and Tokyo, to name just a few.

David Speed

David Speed was born in Great Britain in 1982. Although he is a multi-disciplinary artist, he’s most famous for his intriguing neon painting.

Mural by David Speed. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
David Speed calls his spectacular portraits the #beneon series. Here, he depicted Beverley June Ishmael, drummer of the all-girl punk band The Tuts.

Speed was training to be a primary school teacher. However, as his day job wasn’t satisfactory and he was frustrated by the school system, he decided to rather pursue his artistic career.

Mural by David Speed. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
I’m looking at you…

In his portraits, he works with a strong contrast between light and shadow. He is primarily known for his unique neon paintings: black and white portraits in glowing red light. Apart from large murals, David also paints on canvas.

Mural by David Speed. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
…looking back at me.

You’ll find his neon portraits mainly in the Shoreditch area.

ThisOne

ThisOne moved from rural Yorkshire to London in 2013. At that time, he quits lettering and begins to paint flowers and animals in black and white, very close to art nouveau. He takes his inspiration from the local fauna and flora which he incorporates in tender and playful ornaments.

To the house façade on Pedley Street, he contributed a large bunch of blooming flowers. I’ve introduced this wall above. It is a cooperation between HICKS, Jim Vision, Fanakapan, and Thisone, obviously. However, you can spot Thisone’s creations also in Amsterdam, Bangkok, Paris, Pristina, Sarajevo, Thessaloniki, and many other places.

Marija Tiurina

Marija Tiurina is originally from Lithuania but is currently based in London. As you can see from her thoroughly detailed and carefully crafted mural, she is an illustrator by training.

Mural by Marija Tiurina. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
The life of a woman. There are so many endearing details to discover in Marija Tiurina’s mural. Actually, I think it’s secretly my favorite, also because it’s so different from the other expressive and larger-than-life murals.

She studied Multimedia Technology at Brunel University in London and has worked as an illustrator, artist, and designer ever since. Some of her clients are huge players like Adobe, Apple, Netflix, and Samsung, to name just a few. However, she also paints for private clients.

Since Ms Tiurina is a pretty busy lady, unfortunately, you won’t have the chance to spot her street art in as many places. She mainly decorated walls in Vilnius and London, obviously. However, make sure to check out her very cool’n’creative website.

WOSKerski

WOSKerski is originally from Bydgoszcz in Poland, but he moved to London in 2012. He began his artistic career in 1997 and journeyed to a career as an interdisciplinary artist.

Mural by Woskerski. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
Buy one get one free.

He’s famous for his dazzling illustrations and fantastic surrealistic motifs full of wit and irony. Using clear and vibrant colors, his skills range from photo-realistic portraits to abstract paintings, from illustration to murals, and more.

Mural by Woskerski. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
One ice cream for two krakens.

ZABOU

Ms Zabou is one of the far too few female street artists. Born in France, she currently resides in London.

Murals by Zabou and Jimmy C. Best Street Art in London Shoreditch.
In this double portrait, Zabou and Jimmy C. united their great talent.

To paint her hyper-realistic portraits, Zabou first takes photographs of her protagonists. This way, she can replicate their expressions and emotions to perfection as she spraypaints them in extraordinarily large portraits.

Zabou has participated in street art festivals and projects in Asia, the Americas, and Europe and is featured in magazines and books.

In March 2022, the Saatchi Gallery in London organized Zabou’s first solo exhibition called In Their Eyes.

I introduced ZABOU in my posts on street art in Vienna.

On Instagram

Unfortunately, I cannot introduce all the great artists embellishing the façades around Shoreditch. And even those few I’m presenting above have created many more amazing pieces.

So if you want to dig deeper into the subject – or get inspired for your upcoming trip to London – check out these accounts of the above-featured artists:

Mohammed Ali Aerosol

Ayo Blake

Benzi Brofman

CP Won

Cranio

Dreph 

Fanakapan

HICKS

HUNTO

Jim Vision

Jimmy C.

Jay Kaes

Mr. Cenz

OBEY

Phlegm 

QUINT

David Speed

ThisOne

Marija Tiurina

WOSKerski

ZABOU

How to Get Around

When following the guide in this post, you should take the so-called tube, London’s underground, to the Liverpool Street Station or Shoreditch Highstreet. To learn about your options how and how much to pay for public transportation, please hop over to my comprehensive guide to the city of London. You’ll find all the relevant info there.

Although I refrain from referring to walking as an exclusive option to explore street art in Shoreditch, you will be walking a lot. Hence, take buses or the tube as much as you can. Also, do yourself a favor and wear sensible shoes like loafers or sneakers – or even light hiking boots as many streets in the area are in pretty bad condition.

Cycling

While generally speaking, cycling is a great way of exploring cities in general and looking for street art in particular, riding your bike through the narrow streets of Shoreditch, pushing through crowds, might be a challenge, especially on weekends.

Cyclists in the city of London.
I was amazed at how popular cycling has become among locals and visitors in London.

Nevertheless, since I by no means want to discourage you, I recommend you go to my post on London where you’ll find a comprehensive guide to the city’s various bicycle rental companies since London does not have one, not two, not three…no, London has actually five bike rental companies that enable you to pick up and leave a rental bike in many locations around town.

Map

This map should help you to find the murals I’m introducing in this post. However, I split it into two layers, one for Camden, and the other one for Shoreditch. This way, you can open them separately.
Clicking on the slider symbol at the top left or the full-screen icon at the top right will display the whole map including the legend.

Searching for Street Art was only one of many fun activities on my visit to London. To read about the rest, go to this comprehensive guide where you’ll find further valuable information that will make your own trip much smoother and more enjoyable. If you have only a short layover in the city, my post 24 hours in London has you covered.

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