“My pieces are about moving through the cityscape and feeling insecure.”
The English street artist was born in the mid-1980s. He claims to have always drawn, and that he found graffiti a natural evolution of his creativity. With no formal art education, he learned from other street artists, in particular Doze, Roa, Run and Zomby. Sightings of his signature stick figures in London began in 2002. Stik maintains an anonymous persona, shielding his real self behind his image as a quiet and unassuming artist. There is, however, one biographical reference he emphasizes, and that is his period of homelessness. It’s a subject that his words often revisit, a theme that exists beneath the surface of his paintings.
The artist’s painted community of stick men, women and children reside throughout London’s streetscape. Each location is carefully considered, and many are regularly revisited and maintained. These seemingly lost and forlorn figures could reflect Stik himself and his experience of homelessness.
Perhaps it’s his way of making sure these characters have a home. In 2009 Stik moved into St. Mungo’s hostel which turned into a productive period for his street work. He acknowledges that the pursuit of art gave him the purpose and focus that pulled him of out homelessness. Stik makes for an odd figure in the world of street art. He creates cunningly simple lines and shapes that echo the nave drawings of children the world over. Yet the work is deceptively frank in appearance and meaning. The artist originally used the name in reference to his drawn characters until people started to call him by it. After a while, the tag just seemed to “stick.”
Stik’s approach to public spaces is careful and considered. His view is to fit in with the immediate architecture and location, and he’ll never "bomb a street or community" he professes no interest in owning a street. Balled up in the midst of the debate, he thinks graffiti is essential to urban life. He has talked about graffiti being less about breaking laws and more about changing laws.
Stik has kept a low profile as his recognition has increased, both for himself and his work (fans include Elton John, Bono and the Duke of Kent). He volunteers his time to art workshops and often gives back through donations of his work and time.
Stik’s work will exhibit at the Lawrence Alkin Gallery as part of our Mix: Summer Group Show 2016, opening on July 29th .