Urban Art: A True Source of Inspiration

February 3, 2019
Salamanca's Barrio del Oeste is a place where urban art has flourished over the years.

Urban art, or street art, is an anonymous, creative, free, and – at times – illegal, art form, that uses the streets as its canvas. The movement first appeared in large cities at the beginning of the 1990’s. Since then, it has spread to cities and towns all around the world.

In the beginning, it was all about technique, but it has since found other forms of expression, such as stencils and templates, posters, sculptures… However, its main aim remains the same: to use large surfaces as a means to convey a specific message, often one of protest, or deep reflection.

Thanks to urban art, you can find huge painted murals in almost every big city. In this article, we’ll show you some of its main characteristics, so that you can better understand the urban art movement.

Urban art: its journey through the streets

The Barrio del Oeste in Salamanca has some of the best examples of urban art in the world.

Also known as post-graffiti, urban art can be found in the streets and other public places, such as public transport. In fact, it has also been known to invade common everyday objects, such as traffic lights and dumpsters.

The great thing about this is that it means anyone can appreciate urban art. However, it also means that, outside of photographs, street art never last long…

There are many urban artists, most of whom use pseudonyms. With very little in the way of materials, they have managed to create very successful pieces of urban art, which are both beautiful, and powerful in the messages that they contain.

Many of them play around with optical illusions, light, shadow, colors, and detail in such a way that their works often defy eye. This also has the effect of making them rather hard to miss.

Some of the most famous murals are hyper-realistic in style, while others are caricatures. On the streets, you can find these two styles side by side, as much a part of each other as they are different from one another.

Types of urban art

We can divide urban art into subcategories, depending on the technique:

  • Graffiti: Conveys a message but with a certain aesthetic flair. It can include drawings and cryptic messages. One example of this is the Acción Poética movement in Mexico.
  • Stencils: This technique combines text and images in a more elaborate way. Although you’ll usually see it on walls, you can also find it on the ground and other surfaces.
  • Posters: involves using several prints to form large figures. The idea is to capture the attention of passers-by so that the overall message cannot be ignored
  • Sculptures or works of art that use other objects from the streets. As we mentioned before, these objects are used in such a way that they combine graffiti and sculpture.

What is the inspiration behind these murals?

In general, large murals are meant to show a concept, a political figure, or a cultural figure in a particular light. For example, there are murals dedicated to mothers and grandfathers, showing them as a pillar of family and refuge.

The largest murals can even connect to or more buildings through a single, unified concept. However, there are no set rules when it comes to this. The point is to convey a message, and make art.

Art with objects

Creating art from objects they find in the street is a technique that is typical of urban artists. Some of the most commonly used objects are dumpsters, phone booths, and street lights.

Urban art can also involve using old, unwanted objects to create something beautiful.

However, over the last few years, more and more people have been making street art from plant pots, trees, and urban gardens. For example, you can even find trees that have been decorated with macrame decorations.

Some artists reuse pipes or tubes to create new objects, almost like a type of sculpture. They also save old objects, like bikes, and give them a new twist to extend their working life through art. When it comes to this type of art, the genius of street artists knows no bounds.

Many people like these works of art, as they can bring a touch of color to normally monotonous, gray cities. Others, on the other hand, are more interested in the societal worries they highlight. No one can deny that street art is ever-evolving, and continues to enrich our society.

Urban art is much more than an interesting piece of art that you should stop and stare at for a second before moving on. It’s an original and conscious form of expression.