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    How One Graffiti Artist Highlighted The Dangers Of Urban Change With Stick Figures

    East London graffiti artist Stik speaks out against the effects of urban change on ordinary people with simple, elegant stick figure paintings.

    If you’ve been in east London at any point in the past 10 years, you may have seen white stick figures like these peering out from under railway bridges or looking down from buildings and door shutters.

    Sitk / Penguin Random House

    This is the work of the artist known only as Stik, one of the key names to emerge from London's vibrant street art scene, who has taken his stick people all over London, the UK, and overseas.

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Walk Past Street Sleeper", Mare Street, Hackney, 2010

    The artist, who says he's "approaching middle age", came to Hackney in the early 2000s while homeless and stayed in abandoned buildings and hostels, an experience which shaped and informed his work.

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    A mural outside the radical vegan café Pogo in Hackney. It was inspired by the 2011 riots that rocked the area.

    They may be simple stick people, but Stik tells BuzzFeed News from his studio that they are often a subtle, silent comment on politics, community, and the effect urban change has on ordinary people.

    Stik / Penguine Random House

    "A Child Watching Over a Sleeping Parent", Turville Street, Tower Hamlets, London, 2010

    But Stik doesn't set out to be overtly political – he's more subtle than that.

    "I'm inspired by the political mural movement of the 1960s and onwards and the murals of the Ireland conflict," he says, "but I'm trying not to be too preachy here.

    "If I wanted to say 'stop the cuts to the NHS' I would just say that in big letters. But I wanted to do something a bit more subtle, so I painted a big baby on an NHS blue background in the middle of Homerton Hospital to show why it's important to protect it and not sell it off."

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    Two androgynous figures embrace on a flag made for the first Hackney Pride march in 2010.

    Have the figures stayed the same throughout? "They are evolving a little bit," says Stik. "The lines have got bigger and thicker – in my current style they have big eyes and fat limbs. If you compare that to my early work you can see the development.

    "I really enjoy repetition but with very subtle changes, enough to keep me interested."

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Demolished", Dalston Lane, Hackney, London, 2009

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Climate Change", Mile End Ecology Park, Tower Hamlets, 2009

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Squat Rave", Warburton Road, Hackney, London

    The time he spent sleeping rough left a huge mark on Stik as a person and an artist. "That's how I ended up in Hackney, it was the easiest way to get a roof over your head if you had no money," he says.

    "Being homeless showed me how brutal the city can be and how alone you can feel as a human in this huge place. With these figures I wanted to soften the streets and make them more human, and at the same time show the vulnerability of the people who were living there."

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Refuge", Curtain Road, Hackney, London, 2010

    Perhaps Stik's most ambitious work is "Big Mother" (below), a 38.4-metre-high painting on the side of a condemned block of flats in Acton, west London, in November 2014.

    "It was about the tower block where these people live being destroyed to make way for luxury flats," The women is holding her child looking down on all the destruction and change," he says.

    "I saw the big chalk figures in the west of England and thought, I wanna do that. And actually, I kind of am – if you look at 'Big Mother', it's that same emblem of humanity in the landscape. They did it on hills because it was the biggest thing they had, I did it on a tower block."

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    He's painted works in Jordan...

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Family", Jabal al Qala'a, Amman, Jordan, 2012

    ...New York City...

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Union Square", 4th Avenue and 13th Street, New York, 2014. The figures represent the campaigners who gathered for the 1882 Labor Day protests.

    And even on a Norwegian island.

    Stik / Penguin Random House

    "Utsira", Hydrogen Road, Utsira, Norway, 2014 – the two figures represent Norse goddesses Frigg and Freya.

    Stik / Penguine Random House

    The artist pictured with "Art Thief", a piece designed to illustrate the commodification of art.

    Stik, published by Century, is out now in hardback.

    Century / Penguin Random House