By tagging the city, street artists can amass a large body of work that channels their creative energy while maintaining a sense of anonymity that is usually unattainable in the established art world. In the Netherlands, this has allowed several groundbreaking street artists to gain notoriety and carve out distinctive artistic personas before being picked up by mainstream cultural outlets.
There are thousands of street artists working in Amsterdam, but it’s fair to say that Laser 3.14, Shoe and Super A are among the most prolific and recognized figures in the field. Their names have become synonymous with the Dutch street art scene and, to this day, they remain inextricably linked to the underground, even after breaking into popular culture.
Laser 3.14 has been creating urban poetry for over 15 years and his sardonic, socially conscious street art is a common sight throughout Amsterdam. As an artist, Laser 3.14 believes that graffiti is inseparable from the city and can unearth the hidden discourse flowing beneath urban centers. His short, soundbite-like, messages are usually tagged onto temporary structures, meaning that his work is only visible for a short time before being swept away by the municipality. Several of his pieces were recently added to the Amsterdam Museum’s collection, a confirmation of the cultural significance of his work.
Niels Meulman started out in the early 80s as an underground street artist and spent large parts of his youth tagging walls around Amsterdam under the alias ‘Shoe’. Since then he has been honing his skills and has successfully established several creative initiatives. A few years ago Meulman presented his latest breakthrough, Calligraffiti; an artistic style that combines calligraphy’s elaborate faces with western graffiti’s improvised aesthetic. Although, Meulman is now a respected figure in multiple fields, he is still dedicated to street art and regularly creates massive, wall-spanning, murals. In October 2016 Meulman released his first art-book, aptly titled, Shoe is My Middle Name.
Super A’s enigmatic street art fuses colorful symbolism with bold social commentary. These juxtapositional techniques use a vivid sense of irony to draw out pertinent issues. His graffiti often appears to be hyper-realistic, but on closer inspection is actually composed of several disparate elements, creating an unusual two-dimensional collage. In 2012, one of Super A’s murals was named the greatest piece of street art in the Netherlands and his work regularly appears in galleries throughout the country. Super A is also an accomplished sculptor and has created several outstanding monolithic figures that embody his distinctive sense of humor.