Stik is one of today’s most celebrated street artists. Coming to prominence in East London during the 2000s, his iconic stick figures have brought hope and joy to sites across the world.
Little is known about Stik’s biography: even his real name remains a mystery. Born in 1979, he began working as graffiti artist in Hackney while living in St Mungo’s homeless shelter. Inspired by the communities that helped him during those years, his works were conceived as ways of giving back to society. His 2010 Brick Lane mural A Couple Hold Hands in the Street — depicting a Muslim woman holding hands with one of his stick figures — brought him widespread acclaim.
In 2011, Stik mounted his landmark solo show at Intimate Modern in London. The following year he collaborated with Dulwich Picture Gallery, reworking seven paintings from its collection in the surrounding streets. By 2013, he was using his fame to raise money for charitable causes, notably creating a bespoke poster to be sold with The Big Issue in aid of homelessness.
Over the years, Stik has continued to expand his practice across the globe. Loosely inspired by Japanese calligraphic characters, his distinctive stick figures are universal in their simplicity. His murals have graced buildings in locations ranging from London and Bristol to New York, Berlin, Japan, Jordan and Norway. Many have become beacons of solidarity for struggling communities. Big Mother (2014) — then Britain’s tallest mural — protested against the destruction of social housing in Acton, West London. Sleeping Baby (2015), meanwhile, paid tribute to the UK’s National Health Service, and became a mascot for striking junior doctors.
Aside from his street art, Stik’s works are highly sought-after at auction. Many sales have continued to support the artist’s philanthropic efforts. In 2016, Stik donated a set of Sleeping Baby prints to be sold at Christie’s in aid of Homerton Hospital: the site of the original mural. In 2020, a bronze maquette for his Hoxton Square sculpture Holding Hands sold for £287,500 at Christie’s, realising a world record price for the artist at auction. The proceeds went towards funding a socially inclusive programme of outdoor art across Hackney.