“I felt invisible and it was my way of showing I’m here”.
STIK is an anonymous British graffiti artist renowned for his iconic stick figures. Rendered in a pared back palette of black and white and accompanied by block colours, STIK’s designs are as simple as they are striking, made up of four lines, one circle, one square and two dots. Although minimal in design, STIK’s work is incredibly emotive with love and the community being at the core of all of his work. The artist spends a large amount of time scouting out the locations for his murals, choosing each site with precise intent and favouring the permission of locals over that of the authorities. STIK’s artwork is created for the people and his philanthropic efforts echoes this sentiment. As an artist that only authorises the sale of his primary market work in auction on the condition that all proceeds go to charity, STIK has raised thousands of pounds for several charitable organisations. Most notably, STIK works towards aiding and preventing homelessness as he himself spent many years living in shelters or on the street.
Born in 1979 in the United Kingdom, little is known about STIK. The artist remains anonymous, revealing extremely little about his upbringing and personal life. Of the little information that is publicly available, the graffiti artist has only acknowledged his lack of artistic training and his experience of homelessness in his early twenties.
It was during STIK’s time living in homeless shelters that he began painting on the streets of London. Painting graffiti first in the Hackney area, STIK learned from his contemporaries, developing his distinct style and honing his craft. With the support of his friends and the wider Hackney community, STIK managed to access independent housing and continue his journey towards becoming a full-time artist. Feeling indebted to those who assisted him, STIK reportedly stated that ‘street art was [his] way of giving back’. Each of his works, therefore, are created with the community in mind, as a gift to the public who rallied to help him.
STIK’s iconic murals continued to appear across the United Kingdom. In 2010 following the attempted Islamic Extremist attack on Lars Vilks - a Swedish cartoonist who depicted the Prophet Muhammed as a dog - STIK created A Couple Hold Hands in the Street; a work which has now become one of his best-known pieces. Depicting a Muslim woman holding hands with one of STIK’s traditional figures, the work was immediately embraced by the Muslim community and in 2017, the mural was voted as the UK’s 17th favourite artwork in a Guardian poll.
By 2011, STIK had become an established artist, with his collectors including celebrity musicians Brian May and Bono. That same year, the graffiti artist had his first solo show at Imitate Modern Gallery in London’s West End.
In 2012, STIK collaborated with Dulwich Picture Gallery, recreating Old Master paintings in his own style, and establishing himself as a household name. Now successful enough to turn towards charitable efforts, in 2013, STIK ran an initiative with The Big Issue, creating a bespoke poster to be sold with the magazine to raise money for homelessness. This is just one of the many initiatives the artist has joined in aid of supporting the fight against homelessness.
The next year, STIK painted his monumental mural, Big Mother, in the Charles Hocking Estate in Acton, London. Painted on the side of a social housing block that was due to be demolished, STIK depicted a mother and child solemnly gazing down at the houses below. The mural became a symbol of protest against the destruction of social housing and through the building’s demolish, the message of the piece was reinforced in the minds of the local community.
Seven years later, STIK continues to anonymously paint, produce prints and create murals all around the globe. Celebrating the love and community that helped him flourish both personally and professionally, the artist remains dedicated to philanthropy, raising money for causes close to his heart.