Stikman - a Look at Mysterious Stickman Street Art in Crosswalks
For several years people have been fascinated by small, robot-like figures popping up in city streets and other innocuous places. These figures, now documented in flickr pools and blog posts from cities arose the world, can be attributed to Stikman (sometimes searched for and referred to as "stickman"), an anonymous graffiti artist, sometimes perhaps going by the alias "Bob," who has been putting these images up since at least 2006.
If you want to keep an eye out for stikmen in your own city, here are some common characteristics to look for:
- Small figures constructed with a kind of tape similar or the same to that which is used for crosswalks and other pavement signs
- Yellow figures- though other-colored (such as blue, green, and white) stickmen have also been identified
- Images in pavement- usually in crosswalks or streets (though stikman have also appeared on other surfaces, so jeep an eye out!)
The Semiotics of Stikman
One of the very fun things about Stikman is his relationship to a larger family of interesting underground street signs. One might liken stikman to the "Kilroy was here" markings that puzzled American citizens during World War II or hobo signals that were utilised by vagrants during the Great Depression. These images and their kind are an interesting kind of street language that goes unnoticed by some, but can make others feel completely understood and informed even when they are far from home.
You'll see a fat stickman in the crosswalk here!
A damaged stikman can be viewed in the small crosswalk here
A great stikman sighting in a very public place!
Stikman in San Francisco
Now, along with Washington DC, Boston, Hollywood, Philadelphia, Wheeling, WV, Ann Arbor, and Minneapolis (according to Murph2che), stikman figures can be found in San Francisco. The cluster with which I am familiar in the city is located South of Market, around the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
The San Francisco stikmen can be found in crosswalks at the following places:
- Mission & New Montgomery
- Mission & Yerba Buena Lane
- Mission & 4th Street
There are probably more locations- this is just a spot I wear thin during lunchtime walks. If you know of any more locations, tip me off in the comments section!
Should you see a stickman or stikmen in San Francisco, or in any place for that matter, take a moment to appreciate your discovery of one of the world's many fascinating little mysteries. You can enjoy your discovery even more by snapping a photo of the figure and adding to the growing stickman flickr pool.
The Man Behind Stikman
Because their creator is anonymous, it is impossible to know if stickman's creator is one person or a group of people. That said, a Washington Post reporter did have an exchange with someone claiming responsibilities for these diminutive glyphs. Calling himself "Bob," to maintain his obscurity, this individual explained that "He considers himself an artistic Johnny Appleseed, spreading stikmen instead of seeds."
It could be that this Bob is only responsible for the over 150 stickmen in DC, and that friends or hoer people are putting them up (or more properly, slapping them down) in other cities throughout the world. It could be that Bob is not reposnible for any stickmen at all. It is also possible that Bob is the ultimate mastermind of the movement and puts down each and every figure himself. It is a mystery, and that is half the fun.
At the very least, visiting, noticing, and finding stikman figures is a great reminder that the world is brimming with interesting secrets, just waiting to be discovered.
More on Stikman
- Flickr: stikman in DC
Flickr is almost certainly the best online photo management and sharing application in the world. Show off your favorite photos and videos to the world, securely and privately show content to your friends and family, or blog the photos and videos you
- On the Trail of the Mysterious Stikman - washingtonpost.com
Was it at 17th and Pennsylvania, by the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, that I first met stikman? Or was it crossing the street by the Justice Department at Ninth and Constitution? Maybe it was near the East Wing of the National Gallery of Art?
- Weekend in New York: Street Art - To the Trained Eye, Museum Pieces Lurk Everywhere - Travel - New Y
A weekend spent focusing on street art, the uncommissioned, uncommercial forms of expression that go way beyond traditional graffiti.
- stickman The Scenic Sidewalk
Images of Stikman spotted in NYC
- Wooster Collective: Catchin' Up With... Stikman
STIKMAN Has just returned from a thousand mile journey across the state of New York and the province of Ontario. Along the way I spread hundreds of STIKMEN and STIKMAN paintings in the cities and towns that I encountered. In Toronto I installed a wid