15 Street Artists Who Use the World as Their Playground

playful urban art

Street artists like Banksy and Space Invader have been playing with city dwellers for years, placing their work strategically for maximum impact. In fact, artists around the globe are constantly integrating their artwork into the landscape in unexpected ways. Working in large and small scale, the techniques and scope of work differ, but one thing they all have in common is their clever use of space.

The scene is filled with talent who use their creativity to surprise and delight spectators. Some artists, like Clet and Aakash Nihalani, use adhesive tape to transform surfaces. While others, like Biancoshock and Brad Downey, often stage complex projects that are best appreciated through viewing a set of photos or video.

Street art is more than just painted murals, and these 15 street artists prove this point with their ingenious work.

15 Playful Street Artists - Clet


French-born Clet lives and works in Florence, where he peppers the city's street signs with his whimsical characters.


Oak Oak

French artist Oak Oak‘s keen eye allows him to create artwork from anything. Here, a bent piece of metal is kicked down by icon Bruce Lee. Whimsical and amusing, he lets spectators view their environment with fresh eyes.


Mark Jenkins

A master of public art, Mark Jenkins is famous for his lifelike sculptures that he places in absurd spaces. Part of the fun is watching the non-plussed faces of oblivious pedestrians.


Aakash Nihalani

American artist Aakash Nihalani plays with perspective in his clean, bright tape installations. You'll never look at a flat surface the same way again.


Pao Pao street art - 15 Playful Street Artists


Pao‘s playful artwork uses overlooked architectural elements as a canvas. Here, cement blocks typically used as barricades are transformed into colorful penguins.



With his work Web 0.0Biancoshock transformed the semi-abandoned village of Civitacampomarano into a platform for discussing how the internet has transformed society.



Yarn-bombing expert Olek uses her crocheting needles to speak to higher social issues. Whether it be tackling cultural diversity, shown symbolically here, or making a political statement about the world we live in, her bold art has an unforgettable hint of playfulness to it.


Felice Varini

The anamorphic art of Felice Varini is colorful, eye-catching, and surprising. When everything lines up at the correct angle, it all comes together in one mind-blowing visual feast.


Filthy Luker street art installation - 15 Playful Street Artists -

Filthy Luker

An expert at inflatables, nowhere is safe from Filthy Luker‘s street art attacks. Surprising and playful, they bring out the kid in each of us.


Ernest Zacharevic

Ernest Zacharevic is known for art that mixes painting with three-dimensional objects, turning a flat surface into an interactive showpiece. Pedestrians are encouraged to interact with the art.


Above (Tavar Zawacki)

American street artist Above (Tavar Zawacki) spent seven months searching for a spot to execute this work, titled Timing is Everything. Patience is a virtue here, as the full impact is only felt when the shadow from the street sign sets in perfectly.



No one does miniature better than Slinkachu. He's been churning out these detailed pieces for years, often using everyday objects to inspire his scenes. Suddenly a broken glass bottle isn't an overlooked piece of litter, but the scene of a relatable rowdy gathering interrupted by “Mom.”



SpY installed 150 fake security cameras on this building façade in Spain. Looking at nothing, but watching everything, from afar they almost seem to be painted onto the wall.



French artist Levalet uses posters in an innovative manner in order to “decorate” urban elements. His work always has a dash of humor, mixed with irony.


Brad Downey

In Rome, Brad Downey decided to see all the things one could do with an everyday object that is slowly disappearing—a book. The resulting project, Uso dei Libriforces us to think about how we look at the objects that surround us.


All images via the respective artists.

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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