Hackney-based street artist STIK has become prolific amongst activists and art-lovers alike through his internationally-recognised motif of the evolved stick man. Whether you're looking to buy or sell one of STIK's original prints and editions, browse our network's most in demand works. Receive complimentary valuations and market advice on any original print, with zero obligation to sell.
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Hackney-based graffiti artist STIK is known for his iconic, six-line two-dot stick figures. Stik's works have been found in public spaces all around the globe and are instantly recognisable.
Little is known about Stik's biography. Without any formal training at art school, Stik began drawing stick figures as a young child and has never since veered from a strikingly simplistic style. Stik's androgynous figures first appeared on the streets of Hackney Wick in London in the early 2000s, later spreading to Shoreditch and then west towards the rest of London. Discussing his unconventional training in the urban streets of London, Stik claims, ‘that became an education in itself. I learned from my contemporaries.’
Still experimenting with his style and materials, Stik's first solo show took place in the NO: ID Gallery, a squatted art space in Shoreditch. His now-famous murals were then rendered in black and white out of necessity rather than stylistic preference. For these very early murals, all Stik required was a can of black spray paint from Pound Shop and some white household paint. The artist explains, ‘I was pretty broke and painted on found materials, pulling things out of rubbish bins.’
Stik’s career was defined in 2008, when he exhibited his works at the famous music and art space, The Foundry in East London. His incredible rise to success is emphasised by a comment he made on his relationship to the venue, explaining: ‘That was a very important venue to me because I used to clean the toilets there.’
In 2014, Stik painted what is now his most famous work, Big Mother, a mural that was located on the side of Charles Hocking House in Action in West London, before its demolition in 2018. At 125ft, this prominent Stik work was the tallest mural in Britain, and displayed a poignant image of two iconic Stik figures, a mother carrying her child, against a bright yellow background. Astonishingly, Stik painted this enormous mural by hand by using an airless compressor to apply the paint to the concrete. Stik has spoken of the way that this important project aimed to address issues at the heart of displaced communities: ‘The mother is looking out to the horizon, wondering whether she’ll go once the building is demolished, while the child’s eyes are fixed on the luxury apartments being built opposite this social housing block. Obviously, the child is not going to be living in those apartments – the final destination is unknown. But I also wanted to convey some sort of hope. I think that hope is probably one of the most melancholy of emotions. I tried to convey that in this piece more than most.’
Today, Stik has a coffee table book that outlines his artistic career and has been commissioned by high calibre organisations like the Q Music Awards and The British Council.
Holding Hands (maquette) © Stik 2020
In September 2020, Stik’s bronze sculpture Holding Hands was unveiled in London Borough of Hackney’s Hoxton Square. The artist donated his working model, Holding Hands (Maquette), to the council to benefit their new public sculpture programme. The maquette sold for £287,500 at Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Day Sale in London on 23 October 2020 – well over double its high estimate.
Stik has reportedly raised over £250,000 for charities in Hackney. The artist has a long history with the borough – as a resident, an illicit street artist and an official collaborator with the local authorities. He first began making graffiti works in Hackney Wick in the early 2000s, spreading into Shoreditch and later the rest of London. In 2016, he worked with the council to design the official Hackney banner for the London Pride Parade. “I’ve been in Hackney for almost 20 years. I love this place. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere… I feel like Hackney’s home,” Stik stated in an interview with The Big Issue.
Image © Bonham's / Children of Fire © Stik 2011
Continuing STIK’s social endeavours, Children of Fire bears witness to the artist’s engagement with his surrounding socio-political reality. The work consists of paint sprayed over the garage door of Pogo Café, a vegan café and anarchist information centre. Making use of his stylised and cartoonish characters, Stik made the work in response to the London Riots of 2011, which he partook in and documented. Two years after the event, Pogo Café sold the work to raise funds for social causes involved in fighting racial and class discrimination – the sale of Stik street artworks is only permitted for sale when 100% of the proceeds are allocated to a registered charity and authorised by the artist.
When it came to auction on 30 June 2022, the work was an incredibly rare example of a Stik street work, and fetched an incredible £246,000, making it the second most expensive Stik work to have gone under the hammer.
5 Works: Liberty © Stik 2013
“Six lines and two dots was the quickest way to draw a human figure without getting caught,” Stik once said. The art he creates is informed by his experience of homelessness, which he struggled with on and off for many years. “I was drawing a lot,” the artist recalled. “I had carrier bags filled with drawings but when you get evicted from a squat or you get moved on… you just lose loads of stuff. For me, painting on the streets was the safest place to keep my art.” A stay at St Mungo’s Hostel, a Hackney shelter, helped him get back on his feet.
Now, Stik’s art champions activism, social causes and human connection. “Street art [is] my way of giving back to the people who helped me”. Liberty, a simplified depiction of the Statue of Liberty, was first tagged on a wall in New York City in 2013. For Stik, it is important that his art belongs in its environment and will be accepted by the local residents. “Street art isn’t just art put out into the street,” he told The Guardian. “It’s responding to the landscape. If a piece could be anywhere then what’s the point?”
Liberty also released as a series of limited-edition screen prints in five colours in 2013. A deluxe set was offered at Christie’s in London on 18 September 2019, where they achieved an auction record for Stik at the time.
Big Mother © Stik 2014