I came upon Ramón Amorós‘s delightfully playful aesthetic while street art-hunting in Madrid’s Malasaña neighborhood. I recently had the opportunity to pose some questions to the gifted Madrid-based Argentine artist who will be visiting the US this week.

You are primarily an illustrator. What stirred you to take your characters to the streets?

I’ve been drawing all my life. While studying for my Fine Arts degree, I took a class in wall painting. That was the first time I had a chance to see one of my characters on a large scale. A bit later, while taking an illustration course, I became friends with a couple of guys — including Sr Val and PoyoFrito — who were into graffiti, and I began to be much more aware of walls as an interesting artistic format. So it all began out of the simple desire to see my drawings on a bigger scale. I also really enjoy the dialogue that the public space allows between my work and the people around it.

Your characters are wildly imaginative. Can you tell us something about them? What inspires them? Where do your ideas come from?

Well, the aspect of drawing I most enjoy is making things up…creating stuff that doesn’t or can’t exist. To me that is the most fascinating quality of representation. I have always been keen on characters of all kinds…monsters, creatures, animals. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve been interested in animals; my mom used to get me all kinds of books about them — the weirder, the better. Later on, I began mixing different animal parts together to create my own. I enjoy studying features — eyes, noses, mouths — separately to see how I can combine them together to make them look funny or weird.

How have folks responded to seeing your characters in public spaces?

Surprisingly well! Painting in public spaces allows a closeness with viewers that few art forms permit. It brings people closer  — to praise the artwork or even to complain about it. It starts a conversation. I have always had good experiences. I love children’s reactions to my paintings, but what most surprises me is when older folks approach me and say how much they enjoy my work. This is something that I would have never thought possible, as I think of my style as one that appeals to young people. It’s fantastic that public space enables these kinds of conversations to happen!

I came upon your work in Madrid. Have you painted in other cities? 

I usually enjoy painting when I travel. I left a couple of small pieces in Brazil, Senegal and  — more recently — in Israel. I like the idea of leaving a mark in places I enjoy, and I also love the exchange between art, hospitality and the human connection that can come out of it.

When you paint outside, do you work from a sketch? 

Yeah. I usually want to know what the final result will look like. But I also enjoy some space for improvisation to keep things fresh. I usually add a lot of shading and details through lines or dots, and that gives a lot of room for small changes, corrections or additions that happen on the spot.

What’s ahead? 

Right now, I would like to develop my personal work further. I want to take on bigger walls and more ambitious projects. I’d like to connect with galleries and with more artists for collaborations outside of Madrid. I am getting ready to head to the US — to  NYC, San Francisco, LA and New Orleans. I will be in NYC from the 5th to the 16th,

That sounds great! Good luck with it all!

Photo credits: 1-4 Courtesy of the artist; 5 Lois Stavsky; interview Lois Stavsky



Currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art‘s Ruth and Harold D. Uris Center for Education is a special exhibition featuring more than 600 original works of art and writing from NYC-based Gold Key recipients in the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.  Previous Scholastic Art Award recipients  include such noted artists as Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Kay Walking Stick and Luis Jiménez. Pictured above is Reflection by 16-year old Hunter College High School student Yeji Cho. Here are several more Gold Key-awarded artworks that reflect a contemporary urban sensibility:

Iris Khim, The Wall, age 14, Fiorella H LaGuardia High School

Iris-Khim-the wall

Yerke Abouva, Life of Food, age 15, Professional Children’s School


Anastasia Uraleva, Winter Night, age 17, Edward R Murrow High School


Shelly Chung, I’m Going Bananas for Grandpa, age 17, Francis Lewis High School


YuQing Gu, Self-Portrait with Skull, age 18, the Windsor School


The Scholastic Art & Writing Awards is presented by The Alliance for Young Artists & Writers. You can view the talents of the NYC-based Gold Key recipients at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 29 during regular museum hours.

Photos of images: 1, 3, 4 & 5 Tara Murray; 2 & 6 Lois Stavsky

Note: Hailed in a range of media from Wide Walls to the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available for Android devices here.

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Organized by Oscar Arriola and CHema SkandalZINEmercado, the inaugural Logan Square Independent Zine Fest, is happening tomorrow, Sunday, October 23, from noon to 6pm at Comfort Station. While in Chicago this past week, I had the opportunity to meet up with Oscar Arriola and check out a few of the zines.

When I first met you in NYC several years ago, we discovered that we are both huge zine fans! What is it about zines that appeals to you?

I love that you can make a zine on any topic that appeals to you and can share it with everyone. There are no rules! And you can use any materials you choose.


Do you remember the first zine that you discovered thet spurred your interest in this particular medium?

I started collecting them before I even knew what the term zine meant or even that it existed! My favorite was the one I bought at Barry McGee’s solo exhibit at Deitch Projects in 2005. It was $25.00, a lot of money at that time!

Wow! That is a lot of money for a zine — even now! But no doubt it was worth it! Any other favorite zines?

Just about any zine by Barry McGee and his crew DFW or Down for Whatever.


You, yourself, have created zines. When did you design your first zine? And what was its topic?

I designed my first zine five years ago, although I’d been thinking about creating one for some time. I work for the Chicago Public Library, and so I’m around all kinds of books all day  I became intrigued by the covers of Indian books, and I began scanning them. My first zine was a collection of these images.

What spurred you to become engaged in this upcoming zine fest?

I love zines, and I love the idea of bringing the community together for an event like this.



Have you ever done anything like this before?

I was one of the organizers for the Chicago Zine Fest three years ago.

How many folks will be exhibiting at ZINEmercado?

There will be 14 tables representing about 30 artists.


How did you get the word out to the participants?

We spoke to people we knew, and we’ve been using social media. You can check us out, in fact, on Instagram.

What is the biggest challenge that you and CHema Skanda have faced in organizing this event? 

Making sure people know about it! We’d like to engage as many folks as possible. Our flyers include text in English, Spanish and Polish, as we want to include members of the local community. Admission is free.


In addition to viewing, trading and purchasing zines, are there any other activities taking place?

During the fest, ZINEmercado will present a range of activities including art talks by Johnny Sampson and CHema Skandal, a performance by Wet Wallet, and DJ sets by Amara Betty and Esteban La Groue of Impala Sound Champions!

Good luck! It’s looking great!



1. CHema Skandal

2. Gabriel Alcala

3. DFW Crew with Barry McGee & more

4. & 5. Tom Guenth

6. Alex Lukas

7. Sonic Visual Graphics

8. Flyer for ZINEmercado, designed by CHema Skandal, featuring image of  Oscar Arriola

Interview with Oscar Arriola conducted and edited by Lois Stavsky

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Based in Brooklyn, Misha Tyutyunik aka MDOT is an accomplished painter, muralist and illustrator. His recent venture, fashioned along with a team of Groundswell youth, looms large at 11 Howard Street in SoHo. Earlier this week, we visited his studio and had the opportunity to speak to him.

When and where did you first make your mark on the streets?

Back in 1999, Wisher 914 and I hit up the water tower in Mohegan Lake in North Westchester where we grew up.  But my outdoor work is largely commissioned murals. I painted my first one for SoBro in the Bronx in 2006.  My most recent one is a collaboration with Groundswell youth at 11 Howard Street in SoHo, the site of Aby Rosen’s latest hotel venture.


You’re also a prolific painter of smaller works – from works on paper to paintings on huge canvasesHave you exhibited your works in gallery settings?

Yes!  I’ve exhibited throughout NYC in a range of spaces from CATM in Chelsea and  Tambaran on the Upper East Side to a variety of alternative venues.

Do you have a formal arts education? And was it worthwhile?

Yes, I have a BFA in Design and Illustration from Pratt. And, yes, as I learned how to problem solve through creative means.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced your aesthetic?

I spent my first seven years in the Ukraine, and was definitely influenced by social realism. Other influences include: graffiti in its heyday; Japanese prints; abstract expressionism; traditional mural painting and German expressionism.


What about artists? Any particular influences?

Among the many artists whose aesthetic has influenced me are: Diego Rivera, Klimt and Egon Schiele.

Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I used to prefer working alone, but lately I’ve become more open to collaboration. I recently collaborated with Chris Soria.

If you could collaborate with any artist – alive or deceased – with whom would you collaborate?

Picasso – all day every day – and Max Ernst.


How does your family feel about what you are doing?

They love it!  None of them are artists, but they all love what I am doing!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

Pretty much all of it.

Is art the main source of your income?

Yes, the money I earn from commissions, along with income from teaching mural-making and art sales. I’ve also begun working on fashion design.


How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It’s everything! Without the Internet I’d be nowhere.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished work?

I think so. But the question is: Is anything ever really finished?

How has your artwork evolved in the past few years?

By leaps and bounds! I’m much more comfortable than I used to be with different styles. My visual language has become more confident.


As your work on the streets is largely commissioned murals, have you run into any conflicts with street artists or graffiti writers?

On occasion.  While painting a commissioned wall down in DC, for example, I was approached by graffiti writers who told me that the wall was theirs. When I explained to them what I was doing and they saw my work in progress, they came around.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

I see my role as to reflect on our times, while bringing a strong aesthetic sensibility back into a largely conceptual realm.

What’s ahead?

Everything! Taking over the art world!


That’s quite ambitious! Are there any particular projects we can look forward to?

I am currently painting an anti-gun violence mural in conjunction with BRIC, and I will soon begin working on a mural with Groundswell youth at Stapleton in Staten Island. And opening tonight and continuing through March 31 is The Internal Muse, a selection of my new paintings at Melet Mercantile at 84 Wooster Street in SoHo.

It all sounds great! Congratulations!

Interview conducted by Lois Stavsky with Tara Murray

Photo credits: 1 & 2 courtesy Lindsey Brown McLravy | SLATE PR; 3, 5 & 6 Lois Stavsky; 4 Tara Murray 

Note: Hailed in a range of media from the Huffington Post to the New York Times, our Street Art NYC App is now available here for Android devices.

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Brooklyn-based artist Esteban del Valle has been busy! The culmination of seven months of travels throughout the United States, Displacing Waves, his upcoming exhibit, reflects on the artist’s role as a member of the “creative class” that creates new settlements, while displacing others. Esteban’s distinctly adroit mixed-media approach — blurring the lines between drawing and painting — brilliantly captures the anxiety, along with the comical irony, that the threat of gentrification poses to various communities, including the gentrifiers themselves.  Here is a sampling of Esteban’s painterly musings on contemporary colonialism that will be on exhibit at LA’s’ Superchief Gallery opening this coming Saturday.

Appetite, Acrylic ink and collage on panel, 9″ x 12″


Cocktails near the poor man’s riviera, Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 48″ x 60″


We are running out of cities, Ink and collage on paper, 11″ x 8.5″

Esteban-del-Valle-running-out-of cities-ink-and-collage-on-paper

And the artist at work at Superchief Gallery as he readies for his West Coat exhibit


Opening this coming Saturday, January 9, at Superchief Gallery, 739 Kohler Street, in Los Angeles, Displacing Waves remains on view through January 31.

Note: Opening image is Looking for sediment, Acrylic ink and collage on panel, 8″x 10″

All photos courtesy the artist



With a B.A. degree in Industrial Design, Colombian native Garavato has designed and developed dozens of projects in a range of media. During the past three years, he has also shared his talents on public spaces. I recently had the opportunity to meet up with him when he was in NYC where he painted at Grove Alley in Downtown Brooklyn and at EBC High School.

When did you first hit a public surface? And where?

Three years go in Argentina.

What inspired you to do so?

I had always worked on paper, on canvas and on indoor walls.  But I wanted to try to get a huge stencil up in a public space. And when I had the opportunity to do so legally in Buenos Aires, I did.  And I’ve been doing it since.


Do you tend to restrict yourself to legal surfaces?

I usually ask for permission when I’m a guest in another city, but in Bogota, where I’m now based, it’s okay for me to get up just about anywhere.

In what other cities have you painted?

I’ve painted in Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro. Berlin, Napoli and now in NYC.

How does your family feel about what you are doing outdoors?

At first, my father was concerned. But now he is very supportive.


What percentage of your day is devoted to your art?

All of it. 24/7. It is the sole source of my income, as I work as a designer and illustrator.

Do you have a formal arts education?

I studied Industrial Design for five years. So my background isn’t in fine arts or illustration. But I’ve always been drawing, and my mom is a painter.

What about galleries? Have you shown your work in galleries?

Yes, I’ve exhibited in Argentina, Chile, Italy and in major cities in Colombia.


Do you prefer working alone or collaborating with others?

I like working by myself, but I also like learning from others. And that happens best when I collaborate with other artists.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

I’ve begun to paint on a much larger scale and — inspired by the works of Emory Douglas, Shepard Fairey and Toxicomano — I am using fewer colors.

What inspires you these days?

So much! Music, birds — the freedom they represent – skulls, animals and the notion of evolution.


Have any particular cultures influenced your aesthetic?

I’d say the punk culture, the street art movement and the DIY (Do It Yourself) movement.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

The artist gives a gift to the people, stirs conversation and raises consciousness.

How you feel about the role of the Internet in this scene?

It’s amazing! It give us artists the opportunity to connect with so many people. And I love that feeling.


And what about you? What’s ahead?

I’d like to focus on stencils, further develop my own brand and travel more.

Sounds good! Good luck!

Interview by Lois Stavsky; all photos courtesy of the artist, except for photo 3 by Lois Stavsky

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"Matthew Denton Burrows"

A wonderfully talented fine artist and illustrator, Matthew Denton Burrows began sharing his distinct vision with us on public spaces in January 2013. We recently had the opportunity to interview Matthew whose first solo exhibit opens tomorrow at 8pm at Greenpoint Gallery.

We first discovered you over at East First Street when you were painting for the Centre-fuge Public Art Project. Can you tell us something about that? How did it come about?

When I was in grad school at SVA, I was the only one in my program who was into street art. I loved the concept of sharing one’s art in a public space. And one of my professors who knew about Centre-fuge suggested I contact the folks running it. And so I applied, and in February 2013, I painted my first public piece on a huge trailer off First Street.

What was that experience like?

It was nerve-wracking! I generally work with pen and ink and colored pencils on paper in my studio. It was a new experience, and strangers were observing me at work over the course of five days. But I was instantly hooked!  The interaction with the community was addictive!


We’ve since seen your artwork elsewhere.

Yes, I’ve painted in Bushwick, at the Northside Festival in Williamsburg and in Miami.

Your artworks on paper are quite different from what we’ve seen on the streets. They’re intricately detailed and extraordinarily complex, both visually and conceptually. When did you first begin drawing?

I’ve always been drawing!  When I was in elementary school, I used to get into trouble for drawing so many people with guns!

You work just about full-time as an artist these days. At what point did you decide that you wanted art as a profession? And are you happy with that decision?

At the end of my sophomore year at Lehigh University, I decided to major in art.  And, yes, I’m definitely happy with that decision. I love what I do, and I’ve sold a substantial amount of work.


You’ve had a formal art education. Can you tell us something about it? And was it worthwhile?

I received a BFA from Lehigh University, where I had the school’s first-ever solo art show just a year into my degree. Back in New York City, I earned an MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts.  My formal education is worthwhile only because I was first self-taught.

How do your parents feel about what you are doing these days?

They’re very supportive. My mom is an artist and she loves street art!

What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

All of it! When I’m not creating my own art, I work as project manager and assistant curator of the Centre-fuge Public Art Project. And I am also the CEO and co-founder of the recently launched company, Dripped on Productions.


Has your aesthetic been influenced by any particular cultures?

A multitude of cultures, particularly marginal ones.

What inspires you these days – both in the studio and on the streets?

I’m always inspired by the energy of my native city, NYC! But current events, my experiences, my travels, and alternative cultures also fuel my creativity. And I’m an avid reader. When I read that Rio had won the bid for the Olympics, and the World Cup, for example, I did extensive research that evolved into a body of artwork.

What are some of the particular issues that concern you?

I’m especially interested in matters related to the environment, social inequality and the impact of technology.


How, then, do you feel about the increased link between art, particularly street art, and corporate or for-profit enterprises?

I think the link, which seems to be growing stronger, is a positive thing. I think it will help enhance the movement in terms of fans, but there is always a danger when a pure artistic expression — such as street art — binds with the corporate world. The corporate world has the ability to suck the creative purity out of things. But artists need to be paid like anyone else, and if an artist can find a link where they still feel integrity and creative freedom, I would support it.

How has your work evolved in the past few years?

I feel that I’m influenced more and more by street art.

Have you ever collaborated with another artist?

No! But I’d really like to.


Do you work with a sketch in hand?

No. I have a general idea of what I want to do and my work evolves organically.

What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To expose others to a more interesting world. To remind people that something exists beyond their everyday lives.

What’s ahead?

My first solo exhibit, Are You Aware of The Ongoing Experiment will be held tomorrow, Friday, November 7, at Greenpoint Gallery from 8 -12 pm. I am headed to Art Basel next month. And in January I am participating in a group show in Aspen, Colorado.

Interview by Lois Stavsky with City As School intern Tyler Dean Flores; photos: 1 and 4, courtesy of the artist; 2, Tara Murray; 3, 5, and 6, Lois Stavsky


Speaking with Sienide

August 13, 2014


Bronx-based Sienide aka Sien is one of NYC’s most versatile artists. His delightful compositions — in a range of styles from masterful graffiti writing to soulful portraits — continue to grace public spaces throughout the boroughs. I recently had the opportunity to interview him:

When did you first get up?

I started tagging and bombing on the Grand Concourse in 1981 with my older brother. I was living at 176th street and Morris Ave. I did my first piece in 1985 with my then-bombing partner SEPH. Jean13 was also there, and he helped me shape up my letters. Ironically, my first piece was also a legal commission.

What was your preferred surface back then?

I really wanted to get into the yards. But I couldn’t, so I hit trailers instead. There was a great lot over in Castle Hill, where we painted and made a tree-house to store our supplies.

What inspired you to get up?

Everybody around me was writing.


Did you paint alone or with crews?

Both. In 1986 IZ the Wiz put me down with TMB after he saw my black book. Since, I’ve painted with the best of the best: OTB, FX, KD, GOD (Bronx) and GOD (Brooklyn), MTAInd’s,  Ex-VandalsXMEN, and TATS CRU

What about these days? Do you paint only legally?

Oh, yes! I’m too old to play around, and I want to get paid for what I do. I also want to paint in peace.

How did your family feel about what you were doing back in the day?

They weren’t happy. When I was arrested for motion tagging with my cousin on the 6 train, my uncle — who was my dad at the time —  told me that no one would ever hire me because I defaced public property.


What percentage of your time is devoted to art?

At least 85% of it.

What is your main source of income these days?

It’s all art-related. I sell my work, earn commissions for painting murals and I also teach.

Have you any thoughts about the street art and graffiti divide?

I love them both. I have forever been trying to marry them.


How do you feel about the movement of graffiti and street art into galleries?

I think it’s cool. I love to see my stuff hanging on walls, and when someone asks me to be in a show, I feel honored.

What about the corporate world? How do you feel about its engagement with graffiti and street art?

I have no problem with it. If the corporate bank writes me a check, I’ll cash it.

Is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with?

I would like to collaborate more with Eric Orr.


How do you feel about the role of the Internet in all of this?

The Internet is useful. It works for me.

Do you have a formal art education?

Yes I have a Masters Degree in Illustration from FIT.

Did this degree benefit you?

Yes, I now know my worth.


How would you describe your ideal working environment?

Outdoors, Florida-type weather and a generous paint sponsor.

What inspires you these days?

I’m inspired by the life I live and by the students I teach.

Are there any particular cultures that have influenced you?

The human culture.


Do you work with a sketch in hand or just let it flow?

I work with a rough sketch, but I never have colors in it. This prevents me from becoming a slave to my reference, and it allows my creative mojo to experiment freely.

Are you generally satisfied with your finished piece?


How has your work evolved through the years?

My work keeps evolving and changing because I allow myself to experiment.  I don’t like being stuck in one particular mode. That bores me.


What do you see as the role of the artist in society?

To give back… to share a gift that we artists have with others.

How do you feel about the photographers in the scene?

I think they’re helpful, but they should share any profits they make with the artists whose works they photograph.

What’s ahead?

I hope to be still doing what I’m doing while advancing my skills. I hope never to lose my passion.

Interview by Lois Stavsky; photos 1, 2 and 8 (collaboration with Kid Lew) by Sienide; 3, 4 and 7 (on canvas) by Lois Stavsky; 5 (collaboration with Eric Orr) and 6 by Lenny Collado