An Ode to Album Cover Art

Originally just a protective cover for the fragile CD or viny, the album cover soon became an opportunity for artistic expression to allow the music a visual representation. By offering a little teaser of what’s to come and conveying the essence of the album in a visual manner, album cover art has the power to transform our listening experience into an immersive one.

The 60’s saw album cover art really take off with musicians commissioning visual artists. Music audiences could take home an Andy Warhol through The Velvet Underground or a Jean-Michel Basquiat via The Offs. The record sleeve became equally iconic as the music they contained.

The Velvet Underground, The Velvet Underground & Nico by Andy Warhol

The Offs, First Record by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Early on, the association between street artists and musicians was organic. In the 80’s, graffiti was synonymous with hip-hop, both being subcultures born on the streets and inspiring each other. Later, rock and punk music would inspired a new generation of street artists.

Now, album art by street artists prevails and also celebrated through various genres: from pop to rap to metal to jazz to disco and EDM. We’ve seen some iconic collaborations: Banksy and Blur, Keith Haring and David Bowie, or Shepard Fairey and The Smashing Pumpkins’.

Blur, Think Tank by Banksy

David Bowie, Without You by Keith Haring

The Smashing Pumpkins, Zeitgeist by Shepard Fairey

In today’s Spotify, Apple Music and other fast-streaming tools, album cover art unfortunately often go unnoticed and many are losing an important part of the creative process: the visuals.

Although, this hasn’t prevented the creations of some amazing and, sometimes, surprising collaborations.

Blink-182, California by D*Face

Christina Aguilera, BI-ON-IC by D*Face

Kaytranada, 99,9% by Ricardo Cavolo

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, This Unruly Mess I’ve Made by Ricardo Cavolo

Chris Brown, F.A.M.E by Ron English

The Voidz, Virtue by Felipe Pantone

The visuals directing our auditory imagination have even brought curators to produce exhibitions dedicated to the subject and art aficionados to collect these album covers.

We’re not telling you to judge an album by its cover, but… oh, wait, maybe we are. Some of these deserve the title of ‘masterpiece’, don’t you think?


#TravelTuesday: Reykjavik

Over the years, street art has become a way for cities to revive neighborhoods; a means for artists to express themselves in a more public space; a platform for activists to broadcast their messages; a medium for brands to let their colours show. From Miami to Lisbon, to Melbourne, and everything in between, the world has become a large canvas to discover.
MURAL Festival Blog introduces #TravelTuesday, a street art destination content series, where each piece will explore an artsy city’s unique street art culture.

Despite being the world’s northernmost capital, Reykjavik’s freezing streets are distinctly filled with artworks, making it one of the most creative and dynamic scenes for street art. With increasingly available cheap flights going to Iceland, the city has welcomed an influx of tourists over the past years. First attracted by the country’s iconic and unique landscapes, many tourists have been delighted to also discover a prolific art scene. Indeed, the Icelandic capital hosts a handful of creative minds, from designers to musicians and writers. Iceland has often received high ranks as one of the most innovative countries. Now they can also boast Reykjavik as the ninth most instagrammed city for graffiti art by Bombing Science.

Reykjavik in the 90s was truly a prime time for street art. Fueled by the era’s hip hop scene, graffiti artists’ favorite spot was Hlíðargöngin, a tunnel where many left their mark. In an historical first, City official, Jóhann “Jói” Jónmundsson, made a deal with the city to sanction the tunnel a legal place for young artists to freely create and show their art. Nowadays, Jói is no longer the street art curator he once was. However, Jói is arguably a key influencer for the city to decide to bring street artists down Hlíðargöngin again as part of Reykjavík’s annual Culture Night to revitalize its walls.

Photo Credit: Albumm.is

The Heart Park in Reykjavik has also taken the spotlight as a prime location for street art. Due to the halting of construction on a shopping mall project in 2008 (as a consequence of the economic crisis) the Heart Park became the perfect canvas. As a street art landmark for the city, it includes a playground, a skate-park, a DJ booth, a stage, picnic tables and benches, thanks to three Icelandic artists: Tanya Pollock, Tómas Magnússon and Selur. The Heart Park served as a creative environment loved by families, musicians, skaters and more. Unfortunately, like many other urban artworks, this expansive art piece was demolished recently. Similar to galleries featuring a limited preview of an exhibition, street art must also evolve organically. Fortunately, many artists, tourists and locals have immortalised the site with innumerable pictures and videos.

Photo Credit: I Heart Reyjavik

Photo Credit: I Heart Reyjavik

Nowadays, many of the artworks you’ll be able to appreciate in Reykjavik were created during the  Wall Poetry Festival, an initiative by Urban Nation. In 2015 and 2016, the Berliner organization invited ten international street artists and paired them with musicians performing at the Festival to create artworks inspired by their melodies and lyrics. Take a tour down Laugavenur and Hverfisgata streets to observe some of the wall poetry produced as part of the Airwaves Festival.

Photo Credit: Iceland Airwaves | Piece by Li Hill, inspired by John Grant’s “Pale Green Ghosts”.

Photo Credit: I Heart Reyjavik | Piece by D*Face, inspired by Agent Fresco.

Photo Credit: I Heart Reyjavik | Piece by Tankpetrol, inspired by Gus Gus’s “Over”.

Photo Credit: I Heart Reyjavik | Piece by DEIH XLF, inspired by Vök’s “Waterfall”.

Locally, you can also reflect on the many pieces of Reykjavik’s leading street artist, Selur, whose favorite subject matter are animals. In Selur’s opinion, there are already enough humans in the city, the concrete walls need a little nature to liven up and he’s here to paint this additional touch of nature over the streets of his home country.

Photo Credit: Guide to Iceland

Taking a downtown stroll, you’ll also be able to  discover local artist, Sara Riel’s delicate and colourful pieces.

Photo Credit: Flickr User Chris Christian

Margeir Dire, also a local artist, produces eclectic pieces including this one-of-a-kind mural. While you’re at it, don’t miss happy hour at Bar Ananas, a tiki-themed bar that also showcases his colourful work.

Photo Credit : Chris Christian

Find Icelandic artist, now living in Berlin, Siggi Eggertsson’s first and impressive mural at the Iceland Design Centre.

Finally, head west to Vesturbær and Grandi. Originally an industrial area, the neighborhood has  transformed into a trendy destination spot filled with boutiques, cafes and galleries. You’ll be sure to find some impressive, large-scale murals, including those by Australian artist, Guido Van Helten, who recreated snap-shots of Andrés Kolbeinsson showcasing Icelandic actors in a local 1961 production.

Photo Credit: Guide to Iceland

Photo Credit : Ufunk

Cover Photo Credit: I Heart Reyjavik | Piece by Caratoes, inspired by Ylja’s “Óður til móður” song.


10 Women Street Artists Who Embody Girl Power

Street art has this particularity that it is very democratic. Indeed, anybody can decide to do it; poor or rich, educated or not, boy or girl. Unfortunately, like many other fields, the street art scene is still largely dominated by men and is often perceived as a boys club.

However, there are more talented women who leave their mark on the streets than you’d think! Especially since it is a world where the artworks takes precedence over the artists themselves and where many aliases don’t necessarily indicate the artist’s gender. It’s difficult to gauge how many of the public artworks in the streets are made by women.

While some choose to explore and celebrate their feminine side in their artworks or through their aliases, others use their art to raise awareness around feminist issues. Others go beyond gender, feeling their gender shouldn’t affect our perception of their art. Yet, they all are challenging the field’s stereotypes and breaking boundaries in their own way, simply by doing what they love.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day today, our team gathered this non-exhaustive list of 10 women who prove girls have their place in the street art scene. We hope that this small gesture will facilitate in commemorating women’s achievements in all fields and raising awareness for gender equality among the public.

1. Fafi

This French artist has made her mark quickly in the street art scene with her cartoonish, curvy and sassy girls, which she calls “Fafinettes”. Intended to be a little escape from reality, she has created “The Carmine Vault”, a whole imaginary realm for her fafinettes who now liven up the streets of several cities around the world.

2. MissMe

Royalty. @bumi_ong . #missmeart #aydinmatlabi #kingsandqueens

Une publication partagée par MissMe. (@miss_me_art) le

Activist and feminist, she named herself Miss Me to proclaim her femininity. Exploring issues of race, gender, society and class though her wheatpaste art, she celebrates the power and beauty of women from all angles. Her “artful vandalism” as she likes to call it can now be found all around the world, in the streets as much as in galleries.

3. Christina Angelina

This Venice-based visual artist, photographer and gallerist is known all over the world for her black and white, colour-accented, photorealistic portraits of women. From Berlin to New York City to São Paulo and many other cities, her detailed murals can be seen all over the world.

4. Faith47

As her alias announces, Faith47’s faith is an integral part of her life and her artworks. Inspired mainly by social realities of her home country, this South African woman is a self-taught street artist and graphic designer who explores universal themes, such as  life, death, freedom, authority and respect.

5. Monosourcil

@monosourcilone for #muralfestival2017 📸 @halopigg

Une publication partagée par MURALfestival (@muralfestival) le

Relatively new to the street art universe, the Montreal-based artist has already created large-scale murals in her home-city and is only the beginning. With her street art, Monosourcil shares her caricatural vision of individuals in Occidental societies. All sporting unibrows, like her alias, her businessmen, robots, monsters and other creatures seem anxious and unfriendly, yet fascinating.

6. Kashink

My big baby on Blvd Saint Laurent, Montréal!!

Une publication partagée par kashink1 (@kashink1) le

Absurd and colourful four-eyed characters, whose gender and ethnicity are unclear—are Kashink’s trademark. Often sporting a drawn mustache, the Parisian-based artist is known for her interesting approach towards gender stereotypes.

7. MadC

Throughout twenty years of constant engagement with graffiti and street art, MadC has worked her way up from a teenager with a spray can to one of the world’s top street artists. Her most distinctive work is the mural entitled “700-Wall”, which extends up to 639m² along a railway line between Berlin and Halle. Created over a period of four months, this mural is arguably the largest in the world to be completed by a single artist.

8. Ness Lee

Greatly influenced by Japanese erotica, this Toronto-based artist and illustrator’s work is also very personal, almost autobiographical. Adding playful, sensual and humorous touches to her pieces, the Canadian artist sees her work as diary entries where she can express her feelings and thoughts. From paint, wood, ceramics, sculpture and textiles, she’s also very versatile.

9. Swoon

The Mamma in her wilds. Paste up in City Park, New Orleans. Pic by @bookofmathoo

Une publication partagée par Swoon Studio (@swoonhq) le

Known for her signature murals showcasing women made out of recycled paper, her work has also served a solo exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch, putting her on the map in early 2000s. Her wheatpasted artworks have been sending messages for world peace for over a decade.

10. MC Baldassari

Visual artist, designer, illustrator and more, this Montreal-based artist is very versatile. She discovered her femininity through her art by often portraying self-inspired women with a comic book aesthetic.


Pow! Wow! Goes Back to Hawaii’s Heavenly Streets

As previously discussed here, Pow! Wow! is a street art festival promising, on every edition, a few days of musical and artistic festivities to bring together creatives, educate youths on art and embellish communities.

Last February 10th to 18th, another creative edition of this popular festival took place. After colouring the streets of Seoul, San Jose, Tapei and more, Pow! Wow!’s team went back where it all started: in the streets of Hawaii, in Kaka’ako‘s district.

Despite a little rain, the festival delivered another varied and festive programming. Starting with a block party on February 10th, in parallel with Honolulu Night Market, an exhibition organised by Thinkspace, the festivities went on with artist talks, art fairs, pop-up boutiques, breakdancing battles with UDEF, soccer-golf tournaments with Kicks to the Pitch and Paradise Soccer Club, a concert by BAMP and more.

As usual, Pow! Wow!’s team also grouped a hundred local and international artists, including some big names (such as Dulk, Faile, Daniel Arsham and more) in Honolulu’s heavenly locale to embellish the backdrop with more impressive murals and artistic installations. Here are our team’s favorites.

Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan

Artwork by Ricky Watts (California) and James Bullough (Germany).

James Bullough’s photorealistic style and Ricky Watt’s colourful and dynamic signature united for the occasion, resulting in an impressive artwork that leaves us speechless.

             Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan

Artwork by Sandra Chevrier (Canada).

Wandering between reality and fantasy, Sandra Chevrier distinguishes herself once again with a piece in part of her popular “Caged Superheroes” series. After travelling the world with this series, Hawaii was added to the collection with one of her comic book-masked heroines– symbolic of social imprisonment of women hiding their true nature.

Photo Credit : Lanny Nguyen

Artwork by Sydney James (Michigan).

This time, Sydney’s portraits, characterized by deep hues and complex layers, are translated in this impressive mural underlining society’s prejudice of black women and what they wear. Her personal account of her vision is shared on her Instagramt:

“ ‘Codeswitchonya’ is a repurposed play on OutKast’s “Stankonia” album cover. While this piece directly pays homage to my favorite hip hop group of all time, it speaks on a much larger issue. The subject in this piece is one woman painted wearing different garments with very different hair. It’s highlighting the fact that most people “code switch” but black women in this society and beyond have to do it the most. We are constantly in the act of making those around us “comfortable.” Be it our looks, hair, tone of voice, subtle actions or aggressive actions, we are seldom accepted as our true selves.”

Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan

Artwork by Anna T-Iron (Germany).

Known for her bright and playful artworks of retro, yet futuristic looks in tropical atmospheres, the German-born artist produced for the occasion a Daisy Duck mural, characteristically full of life.

Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan


Artwork by Lauren YS (California).

Lauren YS’ work always brings a little more vibrancy and wonder to every city where she leaves her mark. With artworks featuring imaginary heroines in absurd and fantastic worlds, the Californian artist signs this artwork “Travelers”. The mysterious story behind these travelers is up to you!

Artwork by Daniel Arsham (New York).

Daniel Arsham’s work often uses elements of architecture, sculpture and performance to create pieces that plays with our perception of structures and space. This mural created as part of the festival is no exception! Looking like it might come out of the wall, his mural leaves us reflecting on our own perception of time.

Artwork by Dulk (Spain).

Showcasing a hybrid between the iconic bird from Hawaii, ‘i’iwi, and it’s favorite flower, the Lehua, Dulk’s mural is meant as a gift to Hawaii and its inhabitants. He explains on his Instagram post:

“This mural acts as my present for Hawai’i and their habitants, a fusion between an endemic and endangered bird, the ‘i’iwi and his favourite endemic flower, the Lehua. As the legend says, the ʻiʻiwi had a special place in Hawaiian culture. It is believed that feathers from over 30,000 of these birds were used to make 1 cape for the chief. They caught the birds by hiding in bushes and holding a favourite flower of the I’iwi, and when the bird inserted its bill, they pinched and captured it.

The ʻiʻiwi is a highly recognizable symbol of Hawaiʻ, it’s one of the most common native birds throughout the Hawaiian archipelago, but this stunning honeycreeper has disappeared from most of its former range.”

“The Fence Between Us”

Artwork by Icy and Sot (Iran).

Artistic installations depicting social, ecological, economic and political issues are these two Iranian brothers’ trademark. Better known for their stencil murals, their art has extended to fence materials as a medium, adding a little more symbolism to the artworks.

             Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan

Artwork by Jonny Alexander (California).

Growing up close to California’s deserts, mountains and coastlines, Jonny Alexander highlights the variations nature can take, somewhere between existentialism and surrealism. For the festival, the Californian artist chose Hawaii’s most typical fruit, the pineapple, as the star of his mural.

Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan

Artwork by Tran Nguyen (Vietnam).

Tran Nguyen’s artworks distinguish themselves by their softness that often depict everyday life struggles. This mural, made as part of the festival, adds a lovely touch of femininity to the urban decors of this Hawaiian neighbourhood.

Photo Credit : Pete Ulatan

Artwork by Wooden Wave (Hawaii) and Gavin Murai (Hawaii).

Last, but not least, this playful artwork filled with nostalgia, born of a collaboration between couple Wooden Wave and artist Gavin Murai, all three from Hawaii, takes us back to Hawaii’s retro years and leaves us wanting to go on an adventure on its tropical roads.


Studio Visit – Stikki Peaches

In a first of many studio visits, our team explored the colourful world of Montreal’s very own artist, Stikki Peaches. Entering an artist’s studio is like entering the most intimate spaces of their mind; you’re discovering their inspirations, their sketches, their experimentations, their different ideas slowly taking shape. Entering Stikki Peaches’ studio also meant entering an organised joyful mess: torn magazine pages on the floor, paint and sharpies spread all over, cardboard and decomposed wood panels, as well as dozens of artworks in progress with rock tunes playing on the radio.

This “creative playground”, as he likes to call it, is where Stikki Peaches creates the artworks you can find today in some of the biggest international art fairs and on the façades of numerous cities all over the world or, more recently, in Nike’s NYC headquarters. Every year in Montreal, we’re also delighted with one of his artworks during MURAL Festival, like with his 2016 giant “FUCK HATE” piece or with his paintings at the Galerie LeRoyer’s booth in the MURAL Art Fair, last year.

Photo Credit: Halopigg

The anonymous artist, surrounded with a mysterious aura, has used the slogan “What if Art Ruled the World?” for a long time, encouraging his audience to think about art’s place and power. The lucky ones who discover his artworks are led to stop, think and analyze the messages hidden behind these pictures of pop-culture mythical figures that portray the likes of Elvis Presley, Kate Moss, James Dean, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Salvador Dali, Frida Kahlo, or even Mozart.

Find out more about Stikki Peaches’ world through this interview accompanied by pictures of his studio:


Could you tell us about your background and when your journey as an artist began?

I fell into the art world at a very young age. I always drew, painted, played with crayons and different materials I could find at home. Then, as I began my studies, I quickly realised that being an artist would be very complicated! My parents, both being creatives working in the fashion industry, there were sketches and fabrics lying around and so, I naturally gravitated towards fashion design to channel my creativity.

When did you decide that it was what you wanted to do ?

In 2008, following some personal issues, I thought a lot about what I really wanted and what my ambitions were, which made me realize that it was an actual dream since my childhood. I understood that I was here today, but who knows what’ll happen tomorrow! So, I quit everything, I took time for myself and pasted my artworks in the streets.

Then, it was really in 2010 that it took on a whole new dimension. I didn’t have any career plans, the idea was simply to go back to what made me happy in life; enter my creative zone and paste my creations outside for the world to see. Some friends started telling me that my artworks were being featured in trending blogs from New York and Los Angeles. It was at this moment that I began to get some recognition.


Why did you start pasting your artworks in the streets? Have you ever done graffiti before?

I used to, when I was young, up until the age of 15 or 16. It was a way for me to vent my frustrations and to have fun, but it also brings a lot of problems.

Later, when I was looking for some visibility, it came back naturally. It was the best way to make people see my work. There weren’t many other ways to promote my work. At the time, I wasn’t using Facebook and Instagram wasn’t the powerful tool its become now. Not many people were taking pictures, street art wasn’t really documented then.

Who were some of the artists you liked early on?

I always liked Robert Rauschenberg’s work. His artworks included layers on layers, overlapping and creating a 3D effect. I always liked this complex, yet simple world recreated on a canvas.

In my work, all the layers have a story to tell. For example, the last layer is made of tattoos where I incorporate personal messages and critiques about today’s society, but with a positive and more satirical point of view.

Your work explores pop-culture icons and tattoo, can you tell us more about these and where this inspiration come from?

Fashion, icons and pop-culture were big parts of my childhood. When I create, I get inspired by what struck me as a child, references that I grew up with. Later, I dived into the tattoo culture. I love many different styles from different regions: from the Mexican culture to the Russian prison tattoos, and flash tattoos. I also like the symbolic side of a tattoo and I use it as a tool to tell messages through my artworks.

You are using a lot of different mediums in your artworks, can you explain us your creative process?

I like to work with multiple materials and different textures. I also like to work with everyday materials. For example, the wood panels I use are recycled wood I picked up on the streets. Recently, I’ve started working with tiles from different countries I’ve visited. Often handmade, each tile tells a story about the city or the country it’s from, with symbols and colours that represent the identity of the place. When I break them and incorporate them in my artworks, I reconstruct pieces of walls that crumble and unveil the images in my canvases. This is a style that I’ve been developing for a year now and that I am currently bringing to the next level for my next pieces.

What’s your favorite part?

There are many steps to creating a piece, but I’d say that when I decide the shape the wood panel is going to take on my canvas, that’s when I can really let off steam. I take a hammer and break everything! I hit the piece of wood until it resembles what I have in mind. It’s definitely the part I like the most, it allows me to unwind, Sledgehammer style!

What’s your point of view regarding the illegal pastings you still do in the streets, In parallel to your gallery work?

In 2008, there was nobody in the streets, the graffiti scene was very calm. The streets of Montreal was like a giant playground where I could play. The ones who knew very little about street art and the graffiti scenes were only seeing the illegal aspect. Today, I can paste a piece on a building’s façade and the next day, the owner will send me a message to thank me. Today, the Catch-22 question, illegal vs legal, brings a more blurry answer. The mindsets have changed, people are more open. MURAL Festival certainly has helped in that sense.

Today, you make a living from your art, with your gallery work and the murals you make in festivals all around the world. Will you ever stop spending nights outside pasting artworks in the streets?

Just yesterday, I went out to get some materials and, in the car, I was looking down the streets by the window and I could see so many beautiful walls and alleys. And I thought, “Summer better come quick!”. I have a box in my studio where I keep all my artworks ready to be pasted. When I travel or when the urge comes, I put a few of them in a bag and I go out. It’s something I love doing! I invest the same intensity that I put into my paintings. The only change is the wall with crumbling bricks or a vintage logo that substitute the canvas. For me, it’s just as important as my paintings, if not more… As long as I’ll be able to walk, you’ll have the chance to see my artworks in the streets!


Cover Pic: Stikki Peaches with his mask in collaboration with @bespokenov