How Street Artists Portray Emotion in their Street Art

As a follow up to our popular features on How Artists Depict Emotion in Art (version 1 and version 2), we decided to take a look at how street artists depict emotion in street art and how they utilize exaggerated facial expressions in order to show a range of emotions.


Let's start with this graffiti mural painted on the side of a van parked on the street in New York City. The man seems to be very worried, but the small thought balloon / dots coming from his head suggest that he's trying to summon "positive energy."

graffiti on a van showing a worried man trying to summon positive energy

As far as the emotions that street artists use in their work, we were a bit surprised to find that one of the more-common emotions depicted was worry! At least that's our response the first few examples above and below. What do you think? Is "worry" the best description of the emotion? Or is it fear? Or shock?

Here's several more that show worry, fear or shock:

street art mural showing a character whose emotion is worried

mural by a street artist showing emotion in the character

emotions in street art: worried

emotional facial expression in street art showing worry

Here's a pair that shows anger. It's not every day that one encounters a mad fish with a baseball bat. This man with green hair does not seem to be expressing his anger so much as quietly stewing with discontent or having a bad attitude about something!

emotions in street art: anger, showing a fish with a baseball bat

emotional facial expression in street art showing anger or discontent

Let's end on a good note and show you a set of street art images that show happiness, or joy. There's a playful energy that comes from these happy characters.

emotions in street art: happiness

emotional facial expression in street art showing happiness

emotions in street art: a happy woman laughing

emotional facial expression in street art showing laughter or happiness

On a side note, as we photographed this street art over the years, we weren't always able to to find the names or identifications of the street artists - and would certainly like to credit them by name if and when we can - so if you know who these artists are, please let us know so we can properly credit the artists.




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