From bricks and buildings to manhole covers and trash cans, ordinary objects transform into canvases in the eyes of an artist. 

Since the very first artists painted cave walls with mineral pigments and clay, humans have been making art with the humblest of materials. Though today’s artists have a world of technology at their disposal many chose to work in a more traditional (or untraditional) manner, finding all sorts of things to leave their mark on. The contemporary counterparts of those earlier cave-dwelling artists use unexpected and everyday surfaces as canvases to produce powerful visual experiences. 

Let’s take a closer look. 

1. Takahiro Iwasaki | Geo Eye

Iwasaki sculpts miniature landscapes from unexpected materials to transform the mundane into the extraordinary. In this impressive work, duct tape (a staple in any kitchen drawer) is transformed into a canvas for Iwasaki to carve intricate topography.

 
 
 
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2. Banksy | Bathroom Art

So you could say Banksy is pretty well-known for his street art. However, during last year’s lockdown, he displayed his new work from the comfort of his own bathroom.

 
 
 
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The piece, published in a series of five images on his Instagram account, shows multiple rat stencils hanging from the towel ring, stepping on a tube of toothpaste, and swinging from the light cord in his bathroom. The work is captioned “My wife hates it when I work from home.”

3. Jorge Selarón | Escadaria Selarón

In Rio de Janeiro an accidental art project of painter Jorge Selarón sees a staircase covered in more than 2,000 pieces of colorful tiles, mirrors, and ceramics. Covering 125 meters, the artist described the project as a tribute to his adopted city. 

 
 
 
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4. Tim King | 2020: A Drawing A Day 

In a daily drawing project conducted during the pandemic, artist Tim King captured drawings of everyday behaviors on a range of materials, from scrap paper to face masks, toilet rolls to orange peel. 

 
 
 
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5. Tom Bob | Street Art

New York-based street artist, Tom Bob, works to liven up the dull urban landscape by transforming mundane objects into fascinating artworks. Drain pipes become squirrels, man-holes; crocodiles, and bricks; a stick of butter.

 
 
 
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Fancy stepping outside of the canvas? Our 'Create Artwork for Pabst Blue Ribbon's Art Can Contest 2022' brief swaps the canvas for a can. Check out the details here.

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