Stickers, stencils, spray paint – oh my!

Kristi Weyand
ASST. A&E EDITOR

With a little over a week left in the semester, almost everyone needs an interruption from studying for finals. For a change of routine, take a break from the library and hit the streets of L.A. in search of one of the most evolving art forms: street art. Street art ranges from multi-story murals, to the smallest stickers, to almost anything imagination can cover. 

With that being said, street art is so much more than the pretty backdrops and wings people use for their Instagram photos. Also known as the guerrilla art movement that swept the world in the ‘60s and ‘70s, street art has since been used to make a statement, protest, and break traditional art conventions.

 When taking a stroll through the Arts District of L.A., it may be easy to let the colors fade into an aesthetic background, but it is important to remember the context. I implore anyone interested in exploring the street art of L.A., or street art in general, to keep the movement behind this unconventional art in mind, as many artists still risk their safety for their platform. In addition, be respectful of the art and its surrounding environment.  

Whether you’re looking for notable names or striking pieces, L.A. has it all. Christina Angelina is an L.A. native known as Starfighter. Her murals bloom across multi-level buildings depicting expressive women testing the border between vulnerability and courage. One of her murals, Her Eyes Like Emotion Sensors, can be seen on Colyton Street in the Arts District. This street is home to numerous recognizable pieces; one of WRDSMTH’s pieces, Aspire to Inspire Others, can be seen just a few buildings down the street. His stenciled typewriters leave motivational messages across the globe, though he is based in L.A., and more of WRDSMTH can be seen at The Bloc in Downtown L.A. or outside Lemonade in Beverly Hills. 

A street view of  Undiscovered America  by Earth Crew.   Kristi Weyand/ Quaker Campus

A street view of Undiscovered America by Earth Crew.

Kristi Weyand/Quaker Campus

Colyton Street acts as a great starting point in the Arts District. Home to the incredible and recognizable Global Angel Wings Project by Colette Miller, which can also be spotted on South Hewitt Street; American War Machine by Nychos; and, slightly further down the street, Mother, Should I Trust the Government? by Axis Valhalla, this street highlights the diversity of style in street art. Colyton Street is also home to the Arts District Co-op, which sells souvenirs of the famous murals as well as more artwork. 

Other must-sees in the Art District are the tribute to Ai Weiwei — Chinese artist and political activist — by Damon Martin off of East 3rd Street and Love Each Other by Royyal Dog on Seaton Street. Further north in the Arts District, on 4th Place, you can catch Undiscovered America, which was completed by the collective Earth Crew in 1992 to show respect for indigenous cultures and communities. It has been a staple in the District ever since. 

Downtown Daniel’s memorial to Nipsey Hussle.   Kristi Weyand/ Quaker Campus

Downtown Daniel’s memorial to Nipsey Hussle.

Kristi Weyand/Quaker Campus

Street art is always changing, so keep an eye out for new pieces. For example, a strikingly detailed Nipsey Hussle memorial, completed by the artist who goes by @downtowndaniel on Instagram, can be seen outside The Container Yard on East 4th Street. Watch your step though, because street art isn’t just for walls, either. A motivational phrase or two can always be seen peppering the sidewalks of the Arts District. On top of this, quite literally, stickers plaster almost every available surface. One commonly occurring street artist that uses stickers in the Arts District is Diva Dog; his rainbow-pattern stickers can be seen down almost every street. For help locating or identifying murals, check out the Arts District’s website, artsdistrictla.org. Of course, don’t be afraid to wander and find less well-known gems. 

While it serves as an interesting starting point, venturing outside of the Arts District can lead to more beautiful discoveries. Little Tokyo, which is located just a couple of blocks from Union Station, houses numerous murals and smaller pieces. Moon Beholders by Katie Yamasaki can be seen on the north wall of National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, facing a parking lot. The mural features a phone number that provides further information about the painting from the artist. 

Little Tokyo and, of course, L.A. in general, is home to international street art too. It’s hard to know where to start when tracking down the anonymous French street artist Invader — who has “invaded” L.A. a total of ten times — but at least two of his pieces can be seen in Little Tokyo. Invader’s installations break the mold even further, using tiles to create a mosaic of aliens from the video game Space Invaders and other figures. Although he hails from France, his art can be seen across L.A. — in fact, he’s made it an interactive game. To learn more about his point system and to check out some of the 214 installations he has in L.A., go to his website, space-invaders.com

There are other international artists to spot in L.A. too. Even the iconic Banksy has some art you can find in Downtown L.A. His Swing Girl has lived just across the street from United Artists on South Broadway since 2010. Believed to serve as a commentary on the lack of spaces for children in the city, his piece has been made even more poignant since the parking lot it was placed in was turned into high-end apartments. 

Once again, it is important to remember street art began as a protest against the lack of platforms for low-income communities and search for a voice that would be heard. Now street art has seeped into gentrified areas, becoming Instagram backdrops for rich influencers. While it is nice to see less accepted art forms become more acknowledged in the mainstream, helping create the platform that was needed, the history should not fade into just a pretty background. Be sure to remember this as you search L.A. for some hidden gems. With a little over a week left in the semester, almost everyone needs an interruption from studying for finals. For a change of routine, take a break from the library and hit the streets of L.A. in search of one of the most evolving art forms: street art. Street art ranges from multi-story murals, to the smallest stickers, to almost anything imagination can cover. 

With that being said, street art is so much more than the pretty backdrops and wings people use for their Instagram photos. Also known as the guerrilla art movement that swept the world in the ‘60s and ‘70s, street art has since been used to make a statement, protest, and break traditional art conventions.

 When taking a stroll through the Arts District of L.A., it may be easy to let the colors fade into an aesthetic background, but it is important to remember the context. I implore anyone interested in exploring the street art of L.A., or street art in general, to keep the movement behind this unconventional art in mind, as many artists still risk their safety for their platform. In addition, be respectful of the art and its surrounding environment.  

Whether you’re looking for notable names or striking pieces, L.A. has it all. Christina Angelina is an L.A. native known as Starfighter. Her murals bloom across multi-level buildings depicting expressive women testing the border between vulnerability and courage. One of her murals, Her Eyes Like Emotion Sensors, can be seen on Colyton Street in the Arts District. This street is home to numerous recognizable pieces; one of WRDSMTH’s pieces, Aspire to Inspire Others, can be seen just a few buildings down the street. His stenciled typewriters leave motivational messages across the globe, though he is based in L.A., and more of WRDSMTH can be seen at The Bloc in Downtown L.A. or outside Lemonade in Beverly Hills. 

Colyton Street acts as a great starting point in the Arts District. Home to the incredible and recognizable Global Angel Wings Project by Colette Miller, which can also be spotted on South Hewitt Street; American War Machine by Nychos; and, slightly further down the street, Mother, Should I Trust the Government? by Axis Valhalla, this street highlights the diversity of style in street art. Colyton Street is also home to the Arts District Co-op, which sells souvenirs of the famous murals as well as more artwork. 

Other must-sees in the Art District are the tribute to Ai Weiwei — Chinese artist and political activist — by Damon Martin off of East 3rd Street and Love Each Other by Royyal Dog on Seaton Street. Further north in the Arts District, on 4th Place, you can catch Undiscovered America, which was completed by the collective Earth Crew in 1992 to show respect for indigenous cultures and communities. It has been a staple in the District ever since. 

Street art is always changing, so keep an eye out for new pieces. For example, a strikingly detailed Nipsey Hussle memorial, completed by the artist who goes by @downtowndaniel on Instagram, can be seen outside The Container Yard on East 4th Street. Watch your step though, because street art isn’t just for walls, either. A motivational phrase or two can always be seen peppering the sidewalks of the Arts District. On top of this, quite literally, stickers plaster almost every available surface. One commonly occurring street artist that uses stickers in the Arts District is Diva Dog; his rainbow-pattern stickers can be seen down almost every street. For help locating or identifying murals, check out the Arts District’s website, artsdistrictla.org. Of course, don’t be afraid to wander and find less well-known gems. 

While it serves as an interesting starting point, venturing outside of the Arts District can lead to more beautiful discoveries. Little Tokyo, which is located just a couple of blocks from Union Station, houses numerous murals and smaller pieces. Moon Beholders by Katie Yamasaki can be seen on the north wall of National Center for the Preservation of Democracy, facing a parking lot. The mural features a phone number that provides further information about the painting from the artist. 

Little Tokyo and, of course, L.A. in general, is home to international street art too. It’s hard to know where to start when tracking down the anonymous French street artist Invader — who has “invaded” L.A. a total of ten times — but at least two of his pieces can be seen in Little Tokyo. Invader’s installations break the mold even further, using tiles to create a mosaic of aliens from the video game Space Invaders and other figures. Although he hails from France, his art can be seen across L.A. — in fact, he’s made it an interactive game. To learn more about his point system and to check out some of the 214 installations he has in L.A., go to his website, space-invaders.com

There are other international artists to spot in L.A. too. Even the iconic Banksy has some art you can find in Downtown L.A. His Swing Girl has lived just across the street from United Artists on South Broadway since 2010. Believed to serve as a commentary on the lack of spaces for children in the city, his piece has been made even more poignant since the parking lot it was placed in was turned into high-end apartments. 

Once again, it is important to remember street art began as a protest against the lack of platforms for low-income communities and search for a voice that would be heard. Now street art has seeped into gentrified areas, becoming Instagram backdrops for rich influencers. While it is nice to see less accepted art forms become more acknowledged in the mainstream, helping create the platform that was needed, the history should not fade into just a pretty background. Be sure to remember this as you search L.A. for some hidden gems.