From homelessness in East London to conquering the world, the internationally renowned street artist, Stik is proving that simplicity can be the ultimate form for emotive art.
Stik’s career had a somewhat unconventional start, at the time of his first London gallery exhibition he was living in a hostel. Art became an outlet after ten years of living on the street and his work an expression. From Hackney Wick, moving westward towards Shoreditch his work can be found on street signs, billboards and shutters. As for the actual physical images painted; they are simple stickmen, line drawings, not dissimilar to the cartoon strips of Brighton based Paul Stapleton.
It has been said that simplicity is excellence and this has never been truer than in the case of Stik. The unassuming, yet instantly recognisable line drawings of these androgynous figures give, at face value; a real feeling of warmth, happiness and naivety but what lies behind them is a far darker, more complex message. The characters are not just stickmen but people, Stik’s work goes to show that there can be a whole world of emotion, humility and expression which can be found in the slightest of gestures. Where Banksy’s work speak a world view, Stik speaks on a more close-knit community level and draws figures to represent marginalised communities and the dispossessed feeling that comes with them.
Hiding his identity with some ferocity in the earlier stages of his career led to many reports drawing comparisons and hailing him as the next Banksy. These days, following a journey from underground to top of the mountain he describes himself as ‘not exactly the Scarlet Pimpernel’ and is more agreeable when it comes to photos being taken, albeit behind dark shades and a hat – more of a Badly Drawn Boy of street art with his appearance more muted than hidden.
Stik hit the headlines more recently with his project entitled ‘Big Mother’, a mural which is, for now, the tallest in the UK at a whopping 125 feet high. This will stand until the building, Charles Hocking House in Acton, is sadly demolished in 2016. For those wishing to take his work home but without the budgets of his more notable rockstar fans, his eponymously titled book including his collected works to date is released today by Century.
For those wanting to take a tour of Stik’s work in its own environment – take a look at this interactive map below.