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San Francisco Art |© Monica Nunez/Flickr
San Francisco Art |© Monica Nunez/Flickr

10 Emerging Contemporary Artists From San Francisco to Know

Picture of Justine McGrath
Updated: 8 June 2017

San Francisco has long been home to creative types. Known for cultivating the Grateful Dead and Journey, anyone can acknowledge that the city’s artistic endeavors have been successful. But before artists find superstardom, they’re pretty similar to the 850,000 other people living in S.F. so read on to find out more about 10 emerging contemporary artists.

1. Justin Hager

Hager is a beloved Bay Area local known for his cheeky illustrations. Using elements of pop culture, along with witticisms, he makes topical, colorful pieces that have been displayed throughout the city. And even though he currently resides in New York, he’ll always own a piece of San Francisco’s multicolored heart.

🌶 @badgalriri @therealchilli

A post shared by justin hager (@justinhager) on

2. Rachel Kaye

Known for her appealing abstract photos, Rachel Kaye is an artist who shouldn’t be missed. Spend hours gazing at her work and interpreting it as you like, and admire the gentle use of subdued colors and sloping lines in her work.

A post shared by Rachel Kaye (@ray_ray_kaye) on

3. Eric Bailey

Although he’s based in Northern California, Eric Bailey has traveled all over the West Coast. These travels have influenced his work heavily. A large collection of vibrant oil paintings reveal touches of Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and of course, San Francisco.

I finished a painting

A post shared by Eric Bailey (@ericbailey) on

4. Brian Barneclo

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Brian Barneclo found his way to the City by the Bay in the 1990s. Since that time, he’s carved out a niche for himself as a world-class muralist. If you’ve ever ridden the Caltrain, you might have seen his 40-foot tall mural, “Systems,” that greets incoming trains.

Thank you to @bennygold for providing the canvas for this throw-up on 6th Street at Market in San Francisco #midmarket

A post shared by Brian Barneclo (@brianbarneclo) on

5. Burrito Breath

Phil Guy, also known as Burrito Breath, is a Bay Area artist with a flair for reimagining popular images from the 1960s and 70s. His work combines pop culture images with psychedelic properties. Prepare to see Garfield the cat with an extra set of eyes and unique spins on the quintessential housewife.

big one by request. always stoked to see em large and in charge. happy hump day fuckers!!! 😘😘😘😘😘

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6. Michelle Guintu

Michelle Guintu creates paintings of pop culture icons that will brighten up any space. With a whimsical eye and a touch of pop art brightness, her paintings are simultaneously creative and comforting.

7. Michael Beckler

Colorful circles, swirling lines, and geometric shapes define the work of Michael Beckler. The Northern California artist has a flair for the abstract, and his work plays with shadows and light in addition to bold color. The minute details of his paintings enhance the seemingly random patterns, and his complex layering of color is more than pleasing to the eye. 

8. Scott Finsthwait

With a passion for landscapes and an eye for capturing stunning natural lighting, Scott Finsthwait is a photographer to watch. Over time, his style has shifted from jaw-dropping pictures of nature to capturing the urban oasis of San Francisco. His signature style includes dramatically enhancing naturally occurring colors to create a more whimsical feel in his photographs. 

9. Abigail Lee Goldberger

Abigail Lee Goldberger produces oil paintings that would add dimension and heart to any gallery. Full of soul and bold colors, her images depict complex scenes full of otherworldly elements, such as women riding seagulls and flowers that stand 20-feet tall.