It was a cool, sunny November afternoon back in 2006 as I was driving down Harrisburg Boulevard on the east side of Houston, when a series of colorful patterns flashed through my rear-view mirror. I circled around to an abandoned shell of a building that consisted of three walls and a few support beams where the roof used to exist. Along the walls was graffiti by such H-Town legends as Jade, Colors, Weah, Prime, Bekit, and Kaze. Having recently purchased a used DSLR, this would be my first encounter documenting graffiti in Houston, a project that continues to this day.
The last year Best of Houston® included the "Best Graffiti Artist" category was in 2010, with GONZO247 taking the top honors. A lot has happened in the Houston graffiti scene since then, with wheat paste artists gaining fame and traditional art galleries embracing the culture. Here is our list of the top artists still showcasing the art on the Houston streets:
Howie's style is clean, fast, and fun. From fill-ins, tags, trains, and rollers, he constantly hits highly visible spots and seems to shift around the city with ease. Plus, his monster face character that lives in the last "e" is whimsical with just the right amount of menacing.
This young menace was the virtuoso of illegal graffiti in Houston a few years back. Hitting spots other graffiti contemporaries only dream about, Abels ran the city and quickly rose to King status here and across the country.
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With a confidence to match his talent, Article became one of the most notorious and outspoken members of the H-Town graf community. With an imagination that produces spectacular 3D images and cityscapes, he continues to wow his fans and expand his reach. He is also known to place free art on telephone poles during the annual Art Crawl.
7. Weah (Daniel Anguilu)
Although he works with spay paint, Daniel no longer considers himself a graffiti artist, but rather a painter or muralist. Nevertheless, his work has evolved much like the beloved monsters that he paints, colorful, large scale, and ambitious.
Skeez hits you with bold, pre-Colombian characters with menacing and outrageous faces. With his tattooed head and signature beard, the stories he tells with his paint and history will keep you fascinated.
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Speaking of interesting characters, the drooling heads that artist Ack! produces have to be some of the most creative and bold creations to dot the urban Houston landscape. The masterful lines and colors of his dudes will amaze you with their clean and simple work.
4. Machine & Machete
These two artists are constantly raising the bar with their letters, colors, backgrounds, and accents. They have combined on multiple themed productions that transport the viewer into whatever world they choose to paint. Vivid colors and fantastic imaginations elevate their work towards excellence.
3. Colors Oner
Nobody reps the H more than colors, often his city into his art. With bold, colorful letters and imaginative frames, this OG is always ready to teach the youngsters how its done.
2. W3R3 ON3
W3R3 ON3 (pronounced "Where") has always been at the forefront of productions walls with his fellow INS crew. Incorporating the number "3" into his works, he paints everything from outstanding letters to alien characters, adding in every color of the rainbow.
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At the top of list is the incomparable godfather GONZO247. His work continues to grow, with bigger and better walls and canvases, each celebrating the city, the art, and the people of his hometown.
So there it is. Of course, not everyone will agree with this list, and that's cool. Hit us up in the comments (or on Facebook and Twitter) to let us know who should have made the list. Also, check out Gonzo and nine other big time graffiti artists this Friday at Red Bull Urban Rhythm. Details below:
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Of course, this list would not be complete without mentioning the two kings that came out of Houston: Nekst and Vizie. These two brothers promoted and elevated the graffiti culture on a national scale more that almost anyone in the last ten to fifteen years, and it makes us proud that they were raised in H-Town.
REWIND: RIP, King Nekst.