The InstaList: Canadian street artists to follow on Instagram
From using cans of spray paint to write names – to murals being preserved by cities – street art has come a long way from the traditional ‘graffiti’ that once covered buildings.
Street art now is praised worldwide with pieces from notable artists expected to fetch US$500,000 at auctions. This emerging market has also given street artists such as Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Mr. Leftbrain and Keith Haring the ability to become public figures in the art world – despite their canvases being unconventional. And Banksy is the subject of a major gallery exhibit opening in Toronto next month.
“Street art changes people’s days, while waiting for the bus or walking to work you get to see something beautiful instead of just a grey square,” said Hamilton Street Art’s main artist, Richard Mace.
The Hamilton street art collective is a group of people based in Hamilton, Ontario that beautify the city through their street art. The group has been commissioned by city councillors to create murals throughout the city.
The worldwide phenomenon has transformed cities into colourful works of art – and has been well documented by artists and art enthusiasts on Instagram. Below are some popular street artists, and street art Instagram accounts from across Canada that are transforming blank walls into brilliant works of art.
The anonymous street artist iHeart has been taking social media by storm for his stencil style. iHeart has been decorating walls with stencil prints for years and documenting them on the @ihatestencils Instagram account.
Frequently posting from downtown Vancouver, the artist has been known to travel to Calgary and has made appearances in New York and San Francisco. iHeart uses stencils to highlight the population’s obsession with social media.
The artist has been compared to Banksy for his use of stencils combined with political messages. The stencils provide the perfect opportunity to quickly tag an area and get away before anyone can catch you.
Street artists have been known to create their work in the dead of night if the mural has not been commissioned. When it comes to anonymity, iHeart has taken that to the extreme and has kept their identity secret – despite a large following of fellow artists and fans.
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Currently based in Toronto, Shalak Attack`s striking visuals blends together what she says is South American muralism with contemporary street art. Her art covers entire walls, pillars of bridges and can be found throughout the GTA – even as far as Muskoka.
In her biography, she describes her works, saying “she fuses the spirit of South American muralism with contemporary street art. Shalak’s distinctive multi-layered and signature use of colour are emblematic of her unique style that inhabits the realm of psychedelic magical realism.”
Shalak Attack has done murals all over the world, including Sweden, Chile, Brazil, Jordan and Israel, among others.
In an interview with Street Art Bio, she said: “For me, spray paint is my voice, and I choose to define my femininity as intelligence, as inner beauty and creativity, a powerful and stubborn strength that will not give up.”
If you have spent any time around Toronto’s heavily graffitied areas, you may have come across some work from POSER. In 2012 it seemed a bunny mating season was at hand in Toronto as POSER’s artistic take on bunnies began popping up around the city. It may not look like a traditional bunny, because according to POSER it initially started as a panda and organically evolved over time into its current form.
Originally from Ottawa, the street artist behind the bunny came to Toronto for a graffiti jam in 2010, which resulted in his first piece of work in Toronto. Through social media platforms, mainly Flickr, the now well-known bunny was able to be spread and was documented throughout the city.
Based in Hamilton, Ontario, the main artist Richard Mace has been producing murals around the city since he came back from a trip to Pittsburgh in 2012. Having seen what Pittsburgh offered and what Hamilton could be, he was commissioned right before the Pan American Games in 2015 to paint murals throughout the city.
“Everything is influenced by everything else – the world platform is so broadly diverse that you can recognize certain places from influence,” said Mace.
According to Mace, Hamilton is the ideal spot for street artists to flock due to the many blank walls around the city. He also went on to say that because of the grittiness of the city, it adds a feeling that goes in-line with what street art is all about.
With artists pushing to convince city councillors to continue to commission murals across the city, Hamilton’s run-down areas could become the next booming area for street artists to flock to as a means to show off what they can do.
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Halifax’s walls have become home to a wide variety of street art that has been both praised and criticized. Reddit user bitterbuggyred posted in the Nova Scotia subreddit thread about Halifax street art saying, “Deliberate and meaningful street art like the fish/candy mural on the side of Freak Lunchbox is great. It’s a thing that attracts tourists and I’ve seen many wedding/engagements portrait at that location with the painting in the background.”
Halifax’s downtown core has attracted the street artist Jason Botkin, @robotkin, who was commissioned by Freak Lunchbox, a Halifax candy store, to replace a mural of tall ships with a more modern mural.
Collected into one massive Instagram account, @hfxstreetart has been documenting street art around the Halifax area for over a year.
If you have ever been to Montreal you have probably seen the amazing street art murals that decorate the city. The vivid colour schemes used, paired with the vast building surfaces as a canvas, lead Montreal to be one of the hotbeds for street art in Canada.
ASHOP productions, located in downtown Montreal, is a major part of the scene. Founded by @fluke.art, the production company has grown to specialize in urban contemporary art and are now cemented in Montreal’s street art scene with their large-scale murals. With 10 artists, the production has grown to include expert contractors ready to take on projects of all sizes.
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