New York City Street Artists & Where To Find Their Work

Audra Lambert

Street art boldly expresses complex subjects, from social dissonance to racism and relationships. Form and color take on a whole different dimension when released from the white cube galleries, reinvigorating the mediums of art and design by destroying boundaries and focusing on the vision. New York is an epicenter of street art, with graffiti grassroots that follow street art as an established medium. We profile eight innovative street artists to look out for.

Bradley Theodore

Street artist and portrait painter extraordinaire Bradley Theodore has been slowly taking over empty spaces in Manhattan’s chic SoHo and Lower East Side neighborhoods, across Brooklyn and the entire country, for that matter. Based in NYC, he focuses on portraits of famous (and infamous) characters in American culture with a particular focus on fashion icons. A versatile artist working in a trademark Fauve color palette and skeletal motifs, Theodore is one artist who is staying on NYC’s radar.


A groundbreaking street artist who got her break working with graffiti crews TC5 and FC back in the day, Claw is an innovator in street art whose practice has expanded to encompass the world of fashion and design. Claw was named in an exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris as ‘the First Woman of graffiti.’ Even now, her iconic three-claw paw has maintained a steadfast presence on the streets of New York. Claw’s brands CLAWMONEY and Claw&Co. are in high-demand, and she still tags NYC downtown and uptown.

Mare 139

Street artist-turned-web designer, sculptor, activist and curator, Carlos Mare (aka Mare139) was born and raised in NYC. Mare started working as street artist Mare139 in the late 1970s during the birth of street art; his moniker is inspired by the word ‘nightmare’. A prolific tagger, his work was included in a show at The Museum of the City of New York titled Canvas: Graffiti from the Martin Wong Collection, alongside Keith Haring and many others. He currently works in multiple mediums, fostering a cross-disciplinary approach between web, design, sculpture and tagging/street art. As a writer and curator, he works to bring art to overlooked populations in Manhattan’s East Harlem and El Barrio community with HI-Arts.


Aiko is a versatile street artist whose images equally conjure Japanese woodblock prints and Lichntenstein’s comic strip paintings. A multi-disciplinary creator, she was born in Tokyo and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. AIKO has partnered with Takashi Murakami, Banksy, and FAILE, amongst many others. Her work has graced the walls of the Standard Hotel in NYC and the Wynwood Walls, among many other locales. A recent collaborator with Louis Vuitton, she works in fashion and design and travels internationally to spread her art to new neighborhoods metropolises around the globe.

Kenny Scharf

Street icon Kenny Scharf has a long and storied history of working in New York City since his time studying at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. Since then he’s had major art world impact, from participating in the 1985 Whitney Biennial to designing album cover art for the B-52s; Kenny’s work is everywhere and anywhere. Known for his iconic portrayals of well-known cartoon characters combined with fantastic imagery and funny faces, Scharf works across mediums in collage, painting, mural and installation work. His colorful creations have been shown both in museum settings and as outdoor installations from the Bowery and beyond.


Collage artist collaborative FAILE, a joint effort between artists Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miler, takes pop art and pulp fiction motifs to new heights in their jumbled and colorful artworks. From 2000 to 2006, they worked along with Aiko to produce works in their signature style that gained them international acclaim. Since these early years FAILE has continued their meteoric rise, bringing their unmistakable mix of political and pop symbols to solo and group shows worldwide from New York to London, and Portugal to Mongolia. A recent project in 2013 saw the creation of a long-term installation for the Metropolitan ballet in New York, to which FAILE additionally produced individual items for ballet audiences to bring home with them. This commission was one in a series of larger projects for FAILE as they continue to impact street art trends both at home and further afield.


Embracing her newfound status as a leader in street art on the heels of her solo show at the Brooklyn Museum, Swoon’s natural and nurturing imagery shows a grassroots approach to art. Her humanistic portraits depict the beauty in the everyday, finding inspiration in the personal relationships and sweeping vistas alike. Recently, Swoon’s status has approached Shepard Fairey-levels of hype, with her works going for thousands of dollars on the secondary market. Throughout it all, Swoon continues to rise and build on her themes of hope and inspiration, creating works often on a grand scale that speak to all who encounter them.


In contrast to the intricate detail of many of his contemporaries, Kimyon is part of a new generation of street artists emphasizing color over form. Depicting human figures and abstract forms in a cornucopia of pastel and rainbow colors, Kimyon’s work dazzles. Showing around NYC and approaching religious and political themes with a transcendental mindset, Kimyon’s work draws from expressionism and surrealism to evoke otherwordly figures.

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