It can make you smile, make you laugh and also make you look at the world in a new way.
When it comes to intriguing street art that's ripe for selfies and photos with friends, Austin is filled with colorful and thought-provoking options. And behind each brightly hued mural is an artist with a story to tell.
"Graffiti art helped build the foundation for what you see today," said Nathan “Sloke One” Nordstrom, who has been a prominent Austin graffiti artist for nearly 30 years. "We used to have to run from cops, and a lot of us have gone to jail for this art form. As the city started to change, the attitude toward it changed, too. It's really an interesting time. I don't think the art form has ever really received this much attention. We've done a lot to help build the art scene here, and we want to see it succeed. It's all about passing it on to the next generation."
Jasmine Gonzales started as a street artist in Austin nearly seven years ago and said being part of the local art scene has opened a lot of doors for her.
"I love and feel lucky to get the ability to even create images publicly. I like that the art scene gives artists the opportunity to have our works in public spaces so that we can share what we love and do. There has been a lot of growth for it in Austin, and I like that more businesses and public spaces want to have art on their walls," she said. "But I think what I love most about the street art scene is the art community itself. I have found so many other like-minded artists who have pretty much become my family. We push each other all the time to be and do better. We encourage one another, support one another and help each other find new opportunities. We genuinely want the best for each other, and I think that is a rare but beautiful thing to have."
Gonzales added that she cherishes the chance to make an impact on the people who view her work.
"We live and work in Austin, and it's so nice to be able to go basically anywhere and see someone's artwork. It makes Austin feel like a big open gallery," she said. "The biggest reason I think it's important, though, is the impact it can have on people around us. I had one woman tell me once a piece of mine made her think happily of her recently passed father, and that really touched my heart. I think the ability to change someone's viewpoint or improve their mood is incredible, which is why I think street art is important to have."
If you're looking for a place to take a unique picture for your Instagram feed while also paying tribute to Austin's art scene, here are 10 spots to check out. We've also included a few picks from Fit City columnist and former American-Statesman staff writer Pam LeBlanc's 2017 mural round-up.
“True Vision” (900 South Lamar). Be warned — this block-long mural that incorporates vibrant colors and features a determined-looking woman might just stop traffic. It’s a collaboration between two well-known Austin graffiti artists — Nordstrom (@slokeone on Instagram), one of the founders of Austin's graffiti art scene, and Mez Data (@mezdata), who was named 2018 Best of Austin muralist by the Austin Chronicle. "It's a representation of us as artists and our styles, but we also wanted to do something for the community," Nordstrom said. "If you look, (the woman in the mural) looks like she's shooting a yellow laser beam out of her eye. We did that intentionally and what that represents is forward, like the future."
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“Be Proud” (114 Linden St.). “Lisa Frank kinda threw up on it,” joked artist Gonzales (@jrg3796 on Instagram) about this new mural she painted at Lustre Pearl East as part of the SprATX Summer Bash that features whimsical unicorns and happy clouds surrounding the words “be proud.” “I think it’s important we all take pride in ourselves and the worth that we bring to the world and those around us,” she said. “We are all different shades of color, each beautiful on our own, but much more beautiful when we work together. A single color is beautiful, but a rainbow is better.” While you're there, take some time with the other SprATX murals around.
“Lover/Fighter” (1209 E. Cesar Chavez St.). Are you a lover or a fighter? Tap into both personalities as you snap a selfie in front of this heart-shaped mural by artist Federico Archuleta (@el_federico) on East Austin’s PrintPress building. Think his work looks familiar? He’s also the artist behind Austin’s iconic “'til death do us part” murals, among many others.
“Tau Ceti” (Brazos and Second streets). Part of the city’s Art in Public Places Program, this multidimensional rainbow spectrum stands 10 stories high, making it the tallest piece of public art in the city. It was completed in November 2018 by artist Josef Kristofoletti and serves as a perfect backdrop for selfies and portraits.
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“C-Boy’s Heart and Soul Wall of Fame” (2008 S. Congress Ave.). Created in stages by stencil artist Niz (@elenizzle), this mural on the side of C-Boy’s Heart and Soul pays tribute to local musicians including Jimmie Vaughan, Mike Flanigin and Miss Lavelle White. It was unveiled earlier this year. “Most of these legends had no idea they were being painted, so the portraits were a nice surprise,” Niz posted on her website. “What a beautiful project to be part of.”
“Case of the Mondays” (1603 S. First St.). Do you have a case of the Mondays? Or just really love the iconic line from the Austin-filmed cult classic “Office Space,” which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary? Stop by the Criquet Shirts Clubhouse to snap a photo with this new mural by Mez Data that even features a portrait of Bill Lumbergh proclaiming: “If you could keep Austin weird, that be great …”
“Puppy Love” (2015 E. Riverside Drive). Who can resist puppy love? We heart the giant red design that adorns the front of Mud Puppies, an Austin dog-washing and boarding facility, and it’s perfect for posing with four-legged or two-legged companions. As a bonus, enjoy the oversized paintings of begging and playing dogs that are just adjacent. — Pam LeBlanc
“You’re My Butter Half” (2000 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.). What goes better with a slice of nutritionally vacant white bread than a fat pat of butter? Nothing. That’s why you should head to this mural on the side of the United Way of Greater Austin building for a smoochy selfie with your sweetie. — P.L.
“La Loteria” (1600 E. Cesar Chavez St.). Community members fumed when South by Southwest officials painted over the mural depicting the popular Mexican card game that had covered this wall since the 1980s to make way for artwork related to the event. They made up for it, though, restoring the original mural, which now also features the singer Selena, in 2015. While you’re there, grab a cup of coffee or some new bike parts from Flat Track Coffee and Cycle East. — P.L.
“Hello!” (1102 W. Koenig Lane). Well hello there, good lookin’. In one scripted word, painted in white against a smudgy palette of soft colors, we’re drawn in, intrigued, captivated. This one’s worth the drive out of downtown. Plus, we still can’t figure out the meaning of the back half of a jetliner. — P.L.
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