LA boasts some of the most active streets for art in the world. We have quantity and quality. It was a great pleasure clicking through old blog entries and traveling down memory lane in a search for the 'Best Street Art, Graffiti, and Sticker Artist of 2012'. As M&F was filing through every single post and picture from 2012, there were 3 names that kept coming up. Although their methods differ, these artists share some key accomplishments. All 3 artists have been active on LA's streets all year long. All 3 artists, each in their own way, have used their art to do new things and push forward the street art movement. But paramount to all this, M&F believes that these 3 artists will be the champions and spokespersons for the next generation of street art--Community Oriented Street Art. So, who is the top street artist in LA for 2012? Well, LA has so much street art activity, that there couldn't be just one. Each of these artists deserves the award in their own right, but together it just shows how strong LA's scene is. The Best Street Artist 2012 is awarded to Snyder, Teacher and Morley.
Teacher is the returning and repeat champion. Teacher was crowned 2011's Street Artist of the Year after a stellar year hitting the streets. However, just like Spinal Tap, when you think 10 is turned up all the way, Teacher cranks it up to 11. Flat out, Teacher is one of the most talented and productive artists anywhere--and we're not just talking street. Teacher is so talented he can hold his own against any artist anywhere street or not, being a street artist just means that he has bigger balls.
Teacher produced dozens of new and original designs for street art pieces this year, and each of those designs has then had multiple street applications. To put that in perspective, Teacher's productivity this year is more than many artists accomplish in a lifetime. In 2012, Teacher has hit the streets with wheat pastes, stencils, wooden cut outs, coins, plastic molds, custom signs, miniature billboards and even more mediums of getting up.
A large part of Teacher's work this year was aimed at tributing his favorite artists. Teacher has done street portraits of Gustav Klimt, Shepard Fairey, Revok, Saber, and more. What is most remarkable about Teacher's work is that he has developed his own signature style of stencil without using a computer. Teacher is able to do something that has never been seen done before or elsewhere--he creates the stencil effect himself out of his own mind without using any graphic tool. Speaking of 11, this is next level stuff.
. . . And pushing the meter up to 12, Teacher is currently engaged with an amazing series of paintings where Teacher paints actual street scenes in his fine art style. The paintings are embellished with Teacher's artistic vision of wild animals in the modern urban jungle. It is truly incredible and visionary work that we believe one day will be fully appreciated by the fine art world as such.
Teacher has also lived up to his name and spent time volunteering and painting at Fairfax High School in 2012. His work is always highlighting progressive social causes, like with his 'Teach Us Too' campaign championing 14 year old women's civil rights activist Malala Yousafzai. Teacher even travelled to Sacramento to visit the California State Capitol building and put up multiple pieces on the property itself to sway the politicians and policy makers to provide better funding for education and 'Teach Each Child'. Indeed, Teacher practices what he preaches, and the world would be a better place if more people were like him. Teacher loves to incorporate lions into his work, which is fitting. Teacher is a lion among men, and just like the lion is king of the jungle, Teacher remains king of the streets.
Snyder is a great artist. Not only is he a great artist, Snyder is aware of the conversation he is having with other great artists in the history of the world. In fact, Snyder cites Jackson Pollock’s drip technique, Banksy’s stencils, Van Gogh’s palette and texture, Cezanne’s meticulous attention to composition and Warhol’s iconography in contributing to Snyder's inventing his very own method, the drip stencil technique.
Snyder has gotten up all over Los Angeles, and this year he also took his show on the road around the globe. Snyder travelled to Australia, Costa Rica, and China to put up his street art in 2012. Snyder also made a trip to Miami for Art Basel, but you wouldn't find Snyder's art inside any of the stuffy galleries. Instead, Snyder put the art from his ever-evolving 'Urban Street Art Gallery' on the streets. As it should be. Snyder also got caught up in some of the biggest street art dramas from 2012. First off, when he retaliated to Austrailian and self-proclaimed 'adventure artist' Anthony Lister going over one of his pieces on Melrose. Snyder got the last laugh and became a hero in the community when he responded by painting a monkey throwing bananas at the piece from Lister. Even if Snyder's art is fun and approachable to all types of people, he is not a pushover. When a less popular street art blog took an unfair swipe at Snyder's art by incorrectly suggesting that Snyder had bitten some work, Snyder was able to produce images dating back 20 years of how he developed his own personal style.
Snyder's art is special because it connects with all types of people from all ages and walks of life. His work is accessible to the youngest children, yet it can also be enjoyed by even the surliest adult. Which is perfect, because Snyder is the most community oriented street artist we have ever met. Snyder is hyper aware of the role that is art will play on the streets and how street art serves to engage the community. Snyder takes the street involvement even further by sponsoring art giveaways, public art takeovers, and community art events.
The community has responded and Snyder is something of a local celebrity when he paints in Los Angeles, although he lives a couple hours south in Carlsbad. We hear he has rock star status there, and we are not even half joking. Even the county planner where Snyder is from is a fan of Snyder's work and complimented him on his illegal pieces at a local site. Snyder's art is so approachable, that even if the piece is illegal, like Snyder's 'Dunce' which has been riding on Melrose for all of 2012, the building owners want it on there and will preserve that piece by buffing the tags that go up around it on the wall. Snyder is one of the few street artists who has been caught doing a wall illegally, and then offered a wall by the business owner, or have the city buff the art around his piece, while leaving his piece untouched.
Snyder has a special talent and is one of the top street artists for incorporating the natural environment into his pieces.
Snyder's art game is complete. He excels on the streets and on canvas. Snyder is aware of the position and power as an artist, and he uses his influence to reach out to the community. Snyder had a stellar year in 2012, and M&F believes that Snyder is building one of the most successful art careers the world has ever witnessed. Snyder lives his art. Snyder earned Best Street Artist of the Year 2012 and history is happening now.
Morley is LA's Poet of the Streets. Those are our words, not his. Morley would probably find a better way to phrase it~
On the streets, Morley has essentially created his own type of street art. Whereas most street art is image based, Morley's is word based. Morley pairs his word based art pieces with a disarming sketch of himself to successfully solicit and tap into the street reader's nostalgia. Morley has a unique gift for what he does. When it comes to artists on the streets, nearly everyone uses words, but no one uses them so well. Morley's street poetry is poignant enough to cause a person to think, and packaged short enough to be consumed in a moment.
Beyond the words, Morley has a gift to tap into the larger life themes that all modern humans grapple with. Morley modernizes and personalizes the search for self identity with his dapper word smithery. As Morley promises, 'you won't always be just a waitress'.
Morley has even created a unique aesthetic for his art, inventing his very own 'Morley Font'. Morley will repeat pieces, but rarely and infrequently. Most of the time, whenever you spot Morley piece it is a different and unique street poem, which makes each spotting special in its own way.
Morley has also experienced a lot of success with his indoor work and with prints, and he has been signed to the esteemed Lazarides' Outsiders division. The Outsiders sponsored Morley's first solo art show in London in 2012, and it was a smash hit. Morley connects and communicates with the community at large the best way a street artist can, on the streets, and therefore as the unofficial street spokesperson for the genre.
Special shout out to all the many artists doing amazing things on LA's streets this year. Honorable mention for Best Street Artist of the Year goes to You Killed Me First, There She Is, Random Act, All the Girls Love Earl, Ramiro Gomez Jr., Cyrcle, Thrashbird/TBD Photography, Plastic Jesus, Chod, Bumboy WC, Bandit, Kiosk, and RS70.