There’s A Genius Street Artist Running Loose And Let’s Hope Nobody Catches Him
Tom Bob is not your everyday kind of graffiti artist. Instead of vandalizing urban landscapes, he’s making cities come back to life.
From rain pipes to air conditioners and vents, from manhole covers to random objects, like tactile pavement, poles, bumps, rods, bins, and fire hydrants, everything is really one giant canvas for Tom. And this is where his signature cartoonish creatures find their home.
Initially starting with the streets of New York, the artist has since hopped from city to city, leaving their streets and corners way more colorful in return. No wonder he’s built quite a fanbase with 258k devoted Instagram followers, and many more waiting for his street artworks to pop up in cities around the US.
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To find out more about Tom Bob, the artist behind this amazing transformative street art, Bored Panda reached out to him for a quick interview. Tom said that “Bored Panda was a major influence in promoting my work to a worldwide audience back in 2017.” It turns out, “This exposure gave me the opportunity to travel globally and make pieces in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and throughout the United States.”
Tom Bob was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, USA and moved to New York City in his early 20s. “I had not come from a traditional street art background and started later in life. I loved the DIY approach to it and saw how important it was as a worldwide art movement and I wanted to be part of that.”
Living in New York City for 30 years afforded Tom Bob “the opportunity to see all the great gallery and museum shows along with all the amazing graffiti and street art during that time.” This became a great source of inspiration for his work.
Tom Bob looks for common everyday objects like manhole covers, electrical meters, standpipes, and vents and transforms them into what he calls “fun, whimsical characters.”
“I had made a few murals, but I was attracted to the three-dimensionality of street objects. I didn't have to make sculpture, it already existed.”Most importantly, Tom Bob hopes that his work is seen as “a quick, easy-to-read image, like a graphic road sign creating the emotion of happiness.” He concluded that “I want to be of service as an artist, putting positive energy out into the world.”
The street artist Tom Bob grew up in northeastern Massachusetts and he moved to New York in the '80s, where he discovered his interest in art. But he only got into street art later in life and he’s been pursuing his colorful projects for 5 years now.
Tom Bob explained, “The emotion I try to create is happiness. That’s my focus. And the thing which I love about street art is that it's the most democratic art form, the most world-wide, expressive art form in the last 15 years. And it’s for everyone to see.”
The artist who became famous in NYC, after spreading his colorful artworks in cities across the US, believes that the fact street art is available for everyone is what really makes it so special. “So this kind of person is walking down, who’s not going to a gallery, and it just kind of puts a smile on his face.”
Contrary to much street art, Tom’s street pieces are not static, nor isolated. On the contrary, they’re deeply transformative as they create new meanings and fresh perspectives to mundane things that people don’t take a second look at.
Tom Bob belongs to the wave of American street artists who have been working on colorful and large-scale murals that helped to legitimize street art as an independent form of art. Meanwhile, graffiti evolved in several directions; some artists were using stencils to create more intricate drawings, and others used spray paint to put up murals around their cities.
The latter is also called tagging, and is thought to be a primitive and often badly regarded form of expression. In many countries across the world, tagging streets even goes against the law.
Renowned contemporary artist Barry McGee is considered to be one of the most pivotal members of the street art movement. San Francisco-based artists have been inspired by the bold, cartoon-like forms that became typical of the movement.
Around the same time, another prominent New York street artist named Keith Haring was actively creating. In 1982, Keith Haring created his first major outdoor mural on the Houston Bowery Wall in New York City, which is now considered one of the most iconic street art pieces ever made.
Haring’s famous mural was created using his signature style figures and bold colors, and it became firmly entrenched in the history of graffiti and street art.
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Today, street art is widely associated with terms like "independent art," "post-graffiti," "neo-graffiti," and guerrilla art. Its key message is making art visible and available to all viewers. Oftentimes, many artists find street art as a perfect tool to spread their message, comment on the current events, and criticize what they think is wrong with our current times.
For example, the legendary British artist Banksy often goes political in his works, making harsh criticism of consumer culture and capitalist society.