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Tysen Knight-Creating Urban Poetry in The Form of Street Art

Street art has existed since prehistoric times in the form of cave paintings, but it was not considered as an artistic expression back then. This archaic heritage,through which an artist expresses and shares his ideas, thoughts and views,has evolved over the years and flourished as an art form. It has become a very crucial component of a place’s history and defines the identity of various metropolises. Street art has given people the freedom to express their opinions in a peaceful manner andif used properly, it is capable of breathing life into a society or community, and can be used as a silent protest against social and political injustice.

Although street art initially came to the fore inurban areas, it can now be found in cultural places such as virtual galleries, public discourses, public spaces and communities. Nowadays it is used for the purpose of beautification and urban regeneration, and as a tool for conveying social and political concerns, and views of dissent. Street art at its core helps in reviving and beautifying a city through the creation of artwork, which keeps the residents, tourists and pedestrians inspired, energized and motivated. But in order to become a successful street artist, a person needs a lot more than artistic talent and should have specific qualities and abilities to excel in this creative field. Great street artists have persistence, passion, discipline, patience and a sense of adventure, which helps them in the creation of masterpieces. One such street artist, who has made a name for himself in the field of art is Tysen Knight.

Knight is an award-winning filmmaker, muralist and a globally recognized pop urban artist, whose art is inspired by the works of Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Pablo Picasso and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and is based mainly on the teachings and pop art sense of Buddha. Knight, who presently resides in Palm Springs, California, was born in Fort Lauderdale, Florida on 29th June, 1976 and spent most of his childhood in New Jersey from where he completed his high school studies. After finishing his high school, he decided to not pursue further studies and acquired a barber’s license, which gave him the opportunity to work with the popular athletes of the region. Since his early years, he had an interest in graffiti and street art, and used to draw on vacant walls and buildings. From painting walls of the neighborhood and airbrushing jeans, Knight went on to become one of the best street artists of our generationbecause of his passion and commitment for street art.

Among his popular works is the “Street Bench Art Pilot” project, devised by the Main Street Palm Springs, the City Council Downtown Subcommittee and Palm Springs Public Arts Commission, with the purpose to decorate benches throughout downtown Palm Springs covering the area between Arenas Road and Museum Way. Knight used the theme “Urban Desert Palms and Icons” in this project and the icons included Warhol,Garland, Keith Haring, Frida Kahlo, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Lucille Ball. After this Knight launched his drawings and paintings collection Masterpiece Mash-Up Series at the Times Square, NYC on 23rd October, 2019, where he reconceptualized the paintings of world-famous artists; Grant Wood, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Pablo Picasso.

In his film career, initially Knight did a bunch of supporting roles in music videos and movies, before getting his first big break, which was a documentary envisioned and directed by Knight and was called The Art of Hustle: Street Art Documentary. This documentary was based on street art and graffiti, and told an exceptional and inspirational story of how dedication is required to achieve dreams and goals in life. Because of this documentary, Knight became a regular gallery contributor.

In his film career, he has played prominent roles in movies such as The Adventures of Umbweki (2009), Closer to Crazy (2010),House Arrest (2008), Nora’s Hair Salon (2008),Epic Movie (2007),Akira’s Hip Hop Shop (2007), Sharam Party All the Time (2007), Ski Trippin’ (2005),He Got Bills (2005) and the Negro Zone (2003). He is also the director and writer of Driven by Desire (2013)andThe Art of Hustle: Street Art Documentary.For a brief period, Knight also joined the Palm Springs Art Museum as an Artist Educator-in-Residence.

Knight apart from focusing on his art, has also been part of various charitable events and organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, Midnight Mission, Palm Springs Unified School District and Boys Art Mentorship program for the purpose of providing shelter, food and education to the less fortunate. Apart from providing students with artistic knowledge, the BAM program promotes diversity, which has resulted in lower drop-out rate of men of color. He has also established a ‘Tysen Knight Scholarship Fund,’through which he finances student’s education so that they can pursue studies in art.

Street artists like Tysen Knight use sidewalks,bridges, ditches, lampposts, buildings, underpasses, benches and walls as public canvases to ensure important messages are put forth and are viewed by a broad swath of population. It is because of the creative works of artists like Knight,people’s interest in this ephemeral art form has increased significantly over the past decade and by the looks of it, we can predict that the art industry will continue to evolve and grow at a very fast pace in the future as well.

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