His curvy bold letters adorn the facades of countless buildings and bridges in our neighborhood of Downtown Brooklyn. Clever advertisements provoke thought from pedestrians with messages like, Euphoria is You For Me and All You Need is You. The signage and the presentation is as much the signature of an iconic artist as it is the signature of a neighborhood.
Stephen Powers of ICY Signs is a street artist who rose to fame in New York City during the 1990’s under the name ESPO. He has been one of the driving force bringing street style and method to commercial projects across the country. Beautiful Losers, a new documentary, captures the process of making street art more accepted and embraced by mainstream America, and features Powers alongside other big name artists like Shepard Fairey and Harmony Korine. The film follows the transformation of DIY street artists from running from cops in 1970’s and 80’s New York City to earning commissions for public art around the world.
ESPO’s work is embedded into the everyday aesthetic of New York City. From his early days to his status today as an established, highly regarded artist, his signage has appeared on everything from Coney Island roller coasters to Downtown Brooklyn parking garages.
Along with other street artists, ESPO has helped pave the way for more openly countercultural expression both in the US and around the world, including Colossal Media, which paints advertising murals around NYC, and projects like the Bowery Houston Mural, the Wynwood Walls in Miami, and the tagged streets of Valparaiso, Chile.
As an early figure in the scene with an established and recognizable style that’s ever present throughout town, ESPO and his art are worth recognizing when visiting Brooklyn for the first time. For prints and contract work, guests of the Nu Hotel can visit the artist’s shop—ESPO’s Creative Outlet & ICY Signs—right here in Downtown Brooklyn.
Cover Image via Flickr Creative Commons