I’ve been writing on Medium for exactly a year and a half. (My very first post was on April 19, 2017. I wrote about cheap coffee and good love.)
Since then, I’ve published 469 posts, almost all of which feature images of street murals. And because I don’t always do a good job of celebrating the many amazing artists I enjoy on a daily basis, I thought my 1.5-year mark might be a good chance to do it.
How I Find My Mural Images
Sometimes people ask me where I find the images I use, or if I have a “super secret source.”
The short answer is “Google.”
The long answer is, specifically, that I search by: “[random word] street [art]/[mural].”
And when I say “random,” I do mean random.
Sometimes it’s a single word from the title. Sometimes it’s a mood word of the piece. Sometimes it’s from the music I’m listening to. Sometimes it is truly the first random word that pops into my head — bottle, banana, botanics, bust, etc.
After searching, you do have to navigate to “images.” And scroll. Your exact results may differ (YMMV), but you get the idea.
How I Choose My Mural Images
When I first started writing on Medium and using mural images, it would take me almost as long to Google and pick one as it did to write each piece.
But nowadays, it rarely takes me more than a few minutes from start to finish to pick an image, and I very rarely do more than one Google search.
Mostly, I just scan for a few things…
- Size — I just filter on “Large” (under “Tools” > “Size”) to make sure the quality is high enough
- Perspective — with only a few exceptions, I almost always want the pieces shot relatively straight-on (and with minimal foreground interference)
- Quality — just obvious stuff like lighting (time of day), blurriness, color settings, etc.
- Focal Point Position— I don’t prioritize this first, and I’ve used a few murals that don’t visually “nest” well in the image “preview” space once the story runs, but usually I try to find pieces where the focal point is going to be apparent and attractive in all views.
- Composition / Art — this one is purely subjective and I can’t give you much advice on it. I just choose what I like.
And then, it’s just right click > “Save Image As” or a screenshot.
So. I combed through each and every post — all 450+ —from the last year and a half (twice, actually) and then ranked and re-ranked those I liked most until I arrived at this list. It may change (it already has, since I started), but here’s a small, point-in-time celebration of a few faves.
#20. “The scrotum shell*” by David “Meggs” Hooke
*This is my nickname for it, not Meggs’
I ran this image in “Weird Ways I MBTI Type People” and frankly, this image just makes me laugh.
“The scrotum shell” (still my name, not his) was painted for Montreal’s Mural Festival in 2016.
Also by Meggs:
Bikismo, originally from Puerto Rico, does a lot of really badass “metallic” effects.
Also by bikismo:
Technically a list outlier since it’s a painting, but I made an exception — it’s gorgeous.
As Pedro said in an interview,
“In my swimmer series I try… to express a concept, attached to a moment or a person. Like a day at the beach by the house with my sister or on the island with my friends, how the colour of the water changes in these two places, how this affects the figure and the experience of swimming.”
Also by Pedro Covo:
From Shin Shin’s website,
“I place wheat paste installations into unexpected urban settings. I hope that these pieces… touch the common human desire for happiness, love and understanding. It is my wish that viewers will discover the possibility of beauty and meaning in unexpected places.”
Also by Shin Shin:
Dolk (Norwegian for dagger) is the pseudonym for Norway’s most recognized graffiti artist. “His motives are often pop-cultural references put into a humoristic or critical context,” and his work is across Berlin, Copenhagen, Barcelona, Oslo, Lisbon, Stockholm, London, Prague and Melbourne.
Nils is from Richmond, Virginia, and frequently does work along the Atlantic. He signs his pieces with a butterfly, which “comes from a painting I did in high school that I started to re-use at a time in my life when things really started to come together.” He also owns an adorable bird, Paco.
Also from Nils:
#14. This girl in red & a cheetah by Urban Cake Lady
Like many artists, Melbourne local Urban Cake Lady works with some very consistent themes and aesthetics — for her, it’s this kid in a red hoodie and striped tights… and animals.
“Her character really resonated with me… and something I’ve put a lot of love into… They’re self portraits in way… but I see her more as a character that I create and explore, not just sticking up paintings of myself all over the place.”
To me, [the pieces] evoke feelings of calmness, and a bit of nostalgia … and I like to think that I can stick up a quiet little moment.”
Also by Urban Cake Lady:
And from “Find Someone Who’s Sure About You”
Hannah describes her pieces as “serene bohemian portraits” and frankly, who could disagree?
As an interviewer wrote,
“Her bold paintings depict emotionally-charged women in soft pastel and earthy hues with dark undertones, which beautifully capture juxtaposing characteristics ‘subtle yet strong, bold yet delicate; balancing these contradictions provide the individuality to each of her pieces’ which ‘capture the feeling of being, a state of mind where the beauty and timelessness of the world come into sharp focus.’
Also by Hannah:
Dudes. How cute is that raccoon?? Just look at those beady eyes and that tiny nose and those frisky whiskers. Just look at them! ❤
From an interview Bordalo did, the “Big Trash Animals”
“Aims to draw attention to a current problem that is likely to be forgotten, become trivial or a necessary evil… The idea is to depict nature… out of materials that are responsible for its destruction. These works are built with end-of-life materials: the majority found in wastelands, abandoned factories or randomly.”
Also from Bordalo II:
#11. This skull (artist unknown)
From “You’re Okay”
Many people know him as “the dude who paints by paddle board.” They’re not wrong (see below.)
Also by “Hula” / Sean Yoro:
Also by JR:
More by INSA (who also sells printed women’s leggings and swimwear):
#7. Angelina Christina and her collabs with Fin DAC
I have used work from one or both of these artists A LOT.
Out of Fin Dac alone:
Out of Angelina Christina alone:
From “We don’t care about feminism until it affects us personally” (though I doubt Angelina would back the article.)
And from “What Makes A Woman”
Out of Angelina’s collaboration with Kevin Ledo:
Also out of Angelina Christina (some as collabs):
And these ones from “Why You Don’t Have What You Want”
And these horses, from “When You’re Broken-Spirited”
An article on Jaz writes that he is,
“Inspired by his native Latin American culture and its chaotic history... His dynamic and colorful images of muscular figures, hybrid animals and mythological beings are often used as stand-ins for the different and overlapping societies that he has observed throughout his career, and as a Mexican-Argentinean artist.”
Also by Franco Fasoli aka “Jaz” (who works w/ tons of media, incl. sculpture)
In an interview, James shared,
“I realized that the realism was the star of the show and became the main focus of the work but the abstraction never left. As my oil skills increased, I began concentrating on portraiture and that’s when it all started clicking for me. The mixture of realism and abstraction has been my thing ever since.”
Also, he has a podcast — VantagePointRadio
Also by James Bullough:
Spanish artist Vinz pastes large-scale photograph prints of human models and then paints animal heads on, creating hybrid subjects with a system of symbols...
As Vinz said,
“Personal freedom ends when another one begins.”
Also by Vinz Feel Free:
I am low-key obsessed with Pantónio’s work. It is utterly gorgeous.
In an interview, he shared,
“I have a kind of phobia for groups of persons, I don’t like to be part of them. I like to see animals, I believe and understand their communication better… their movements are more pure at communication, so I prefer to draw animals. I use animals to tell some human stories, often they are taking their spaces or acting like humans. Animals are just a way to show a part of a story.”
The saturated aesthetic came from sketches:
“My process of getting an idea is sketching over and over it, my sketches get over saturated. From this confusion I try to simplify, unifying lines, and I suppose… the movement of the sea jump out.”
And on the color pallet:
“I use the blue as a non-colour, it’s just the light and the one that I am comfortable with to create the volume… those are the colours that I have grown up around, with the blue of sky and sea breaking on white against the strong volcanic black rocks.”
More by Pantónio — how cool are these??
I also have a low-key girl-crush on Taylor (who happens to live not too far away — holla!)
In an interview, she shared,
“I’m endlessly inspired by the human form, particularly as it represents itself through dancing… one can observe a very deep aspect of human connection, one that explores trust, boundaries, and connections; and the exquisite potential of the human body to move through space. I do my best in my work to convey that level of emotion, perhaps in a way that is not immediately tangible but leaves the viewer with a feeling. Whatever that feeling may be.”
Bonus musical artist recs: Kevin Garrett and Nick Hakim
Also from Taylor
PART II: Honorable mentions
Murals that worked adorably for the post I put them in…
This hand puppet arm wrestle by Kelly Puissegur
In “Who has the power in your relationship”…
This rainbow vomit
In “20 Things I Refuse To Fight About”…
“Water the Flowers” by Mark Samsonovich
In “Six Things I Learned About Relationships From Improv”
“Moonshine” by Sainer and Bezt (Etam Cru)
In “The 11 Things I Love Most About The South”
That’s all, folks!