STIK is an anonymous British graffiti artist renowned for his iconic stick figures. He started painting unofficial, socially conscious murals in his hometown of Hackney, East London and since has become a voice for communities across the globe. Stik uses elementary visual forms to quickly and easily convey his messages for social change. 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.
In 2018, he gave his 8-year-old sculpture, ‘Up on the Roof’, to Cardboard Citizens, a theatre group helping the homeless, for auction. It fetched £150,000. Despite his important role within the art world, very little is known about the iconic street-artist: much like fellow street artist Banksy, he prefers to maintain an anonymous persona. That’s not to say he is unapproachable – he gave street lectures about his work. Merely that he is secretive when it comes to his backstory, though warm and willing to talk about his art.
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 streets.
“It was squatting and eventually social housing which enabled me to gain a foothold and get back to a decent standard of life. Street art was my way of giving back to the people who helped me” STIK
Looking closer to home, you may remember seeing his work whilst passing through West London on the tube. So tall it was clearly visible from planes leaving Heathrow Airport the mural became a symbol of protest against the destruction of social housing, a message immortalised by its recent demolition. In 2014 Stik painted the mural Big Mother, on the Charles Hocking House council estate in West London. The council tower block had been condemned before he began the 125-foot image of a mother and child — the tallest mural in Britain, which fills the entire side of the Acton estate. With Big Mother, Stik sought to address the issue of uprooted communities.
‘The mother is looking out to the horizon, wondering where 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.’– STIK