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21 Text Artists Who Became Popular By Having Art with Words

21 Text Artists Who Became Popular By Having Art with Words

Art is always best when you embrace it at a cross-section. Text artists bring together art and wordplay in order to create a better overall picture.

For most people, text art can be incredibly compelling.

It can be visually beautiful and linguistically compelling at the same time.

This allows artists to give their art an even more interesting meaning that can be used to get the most out of work. It makes it possible for them to share a completely unique message.

Word artists are known for bringing together different art and art styles with words.

It is an exciting style of art that allows for some additional artistic expression.

Every day, people are making some truly great things with it!

text artists

What is Art with Text Called?

love text art

Word Art is the most common name for this type of art.

However, many different kinds of art incorporate words or text, and not all of them comfortably hold the title ‘word art.’ 

Word art took off in the 1950s as part of the movement of postmodernism.

It has been seen as a reaction to abstract expressionism, incorporating hybrid models of expression that allow art to move on from abstraction without simply going back to impression or realism. 

Contemporary artists are often influenced by graphic design.

Its influence on word art is heavy.

The two fields blend into one another and reveal the power of words as art. 

Why do Artists use Text with Work?

artist about to draw

The use of words within art has been seen as a postmodern invention.

Instead of simply transporting the viewer into a scene, the use of text breaks the mind into conflicting modes of observation.

On the one side, one sees the representation within the artwork itself.

On the other, text can come into conflict or change the meaning of what is being seen.

It can also convey a direct message onto the work of art. 

Marcel Duchamp was one of the originators of postmodern art with his upturned urinal which became a piece of art in part due to his title “Fountain.” 

Pop artists such as Andy Warhol and  Roy Lichtenstein also paved the way for everyday items to become the subject of serious art, especially the use of repetition to change the meaning of artworks. 

The movement away from figurative art provided a new starting point not just from abstract art, but word art as well. 

There are many more reasons why artists might use text with their works, but these are best explored by looking at the individual artists’ works themselves.

Famous Artists that Use Words in their Art

Guerrilla Girls

This modern collection of word artists is known for bringing together a variety of powerful statements.

These text artists use words as a powerful tool to share their beliefs in public spaces.

Their focuses on political improvement and feminism make it easy for them to focus on power. It leads to bold designs and truly amazing artistic choices that catchy the eyes of anyone passing by.

You will love seeing what these artists have to say almost as much as you love their bizarre masks.

Don’t be afraid to look these bold designs in the eye and think about how we can improve our planet.

Ray Johnson

If there is one artist that took the style of word artists to the next level, it was Ray Johnson.

This artist was renowned for using words and letters from all different languages in his work.

His unique pieces, which focused heavily on a collage effect, bring something completely unique to the table. Every single piece of his has a sort of disheveled look, often filled with words or phrases.

However, this seems to be part of the charm of his work as a whole.

Not all word artists are this comfortable with raw-looking work, but it was undoubtedly part of his genius.

His pieces are captivating to look at and seem to tell a story.

Ed Ruscha

Some word artists are known because of their effortlessly modern style.

Ed Ruscha is undoubtedly one of these artists.

Using a variety of different artistic mediums, Ruscha works to show off his messages and convey them with great intent.

Many of his works of art look beautiful and flashy.

Others are more unique or downplayed in nature.

At the end of the day, Ruscha does an excellent job of bringing together words and art to create something truly amazing.

This artist is perfect for snapping an amazing photo for your profile or for considering the greater meanings of the words.

Carl Andre

Some artists are known for their art and others are known for their ability to design it.

Carl Andre’s work was largely popularized because of his distinct style.

This artist did an excellent job of arranging words and letters in such a way that you can’t help but stare at them.

His works range from basic shapes to shapes with true intent.

They are quite a spectacle to behold and likely played a large influence in popular trends today.

Seeing the way that he effortlessly arranges words is excellent for getting inspired.

It is easy to see why people love looking at his engaging works that somehow always preserve a clean look.

As far as text artists go, he really defined the style.

Tracey Emin

Every once in a while text artists can make creations that feel like they were taken straight out of a school notebook.

Tracey Emin’s art perfectly captures this exact feeling and uses it to make something absolutely beautiful.

As far as word artists go, she does a great job of bringing together a balance of youthful energy.

The young artist’s works of art dance between being entirely focused on love and passion and then veering into more of a vibrant and bold energy.

At times, her work can be offensive to some and thrilling to others.

Each piece is unique, but they are all very much alive.

Juan Uribe

When it comes to text artists, some artists really leverage the power of words.

In so many ways, Juan Uribe does an amazing job of conveying powerful ideas through short sentences.

You don’t need that much context to truly feel the sting of some of these artistically presented words.

Many of them speak to us as a people, as well as us in the face of modern rule.

It is easy to see just how powerful even a few words can be when you look at these works of art.

Juan Uribe has gained much renown for his work in recent times, and it is impossible to deny that his work is compelling.

Lawrence Weiner

If you are looking for the kind of word artists who really leverage words in different scenes, this is a great example.

Lawrence Weiner is responsible for a variety of brilliant and well-done pieces of text art.

Everything that Weiner does evokes a pretty specific emotion.

Depending on the piece you might find yourself having realizations and coming to terms with certain feelings.

In new ways, this visual artist stands out in the world of text artists.

His work is not only compelling, but each piece is incredibly unique as well.

Tom Phillips

Some word artists rely more heavily on art in addition to their words.

Tom Phillips uses art to carefully cradle his words to emphasize their overall meaning.

He is known for using various forms of art to carefully surround his words with something appealing.

This makes it easy to force his words to stand out, which improves their overall impact of them.

Many people find that this artist does an excellent job of making you look directly at the words above all else.

You might find that you view the art side of things after, but you will always be drawn to the words first.

Max Rippon / RIPO

Regardless of what you would call this artist, his work speaks for itself.

Max Rippon is known for making amazing street style art that is compelling to look at and packs a punch.

In some instances, he will incorporate words to add life to images.

In other instances, he will actively use words as a central point within the work.

Whether you are looking for more captivating text artists or you just love graffiti, RIPO might be right for you.

You won’t believe all of the different variations of artistic talent that have gone into his work.

Jason Rhoades

There are some text artists that aim to really push the issue with their art.

Jason Rhoades wastes absolutely no time when it comes to making art that cuts to the core.

You will be amazed to see just how bold and fascinating this artist’s work is.

The style that he uses to convey his messages can vary greatly from one work to the next.

Some are incredibly modern while others look more traditional.

At the end of the day, Jason Rhoades does a great job of bringing together eye-catching words meant to make a statement.

You might be surprised by what he has to say, but you have to admit he makes his point.

Tiziana La Melia

This is one amazing artist who loves to show off the power of words in her art.

She uses stunning visuals of different varieties to accompany her words.

Unlike some word artists, she focuses a lot on the visual aspect of her art.

If anything, the words are often added in as an almost afterthought.

While she, of course, does this with great intent, the words are often downplayed in a way.

This makes it that much more remarkable when you read them and see how impactful they can be.

She uses a cross-section of the arts to make something truly magical.

Mel Bochner

Some word artists use words in a simple and understated way, but not Mel Bochner.

This artist is known for his bold and text-heavy works of art. 

They are great for bringing together a wide range of words and concepts.

Most of them are completely covered in words, making them ideal for all kinds of projects.

You can enjoy taking a moment to pause, read, and truly process these works of art.

They are built around presenting certain sentiments in the best possible way.

Anastasia Klose

Plenty of word artists also practice other types of art.

Anastasia Klose is an artist who makes a lot of different amazing styles of art, but it doesn’t mean that she’s any less committed to more traditional styles too.

Her art can vary drastically from one piece to the next, using traditional materials such as oil paint or charcoal one day and non-traditional the next.

She is known for making sometimes playful and educational works of art that make it possible for her to share important messages.

Her work can shift from refined to unrefined from piece to piece.

At the end of the day, she is an incredibly talented word artist who does an excellent job of bringing her visions to life.

You will love the time and energy that goes into her pieces of art.

They are truly something to marvel at.

Wayne White

This is one controversial member of the text artists’ community, not because of the artist himself.

Instead, the controversy is largely built around the art that he creates.

This artist does a great job of making art that will absolutely catch everyone’s eye, but not always in the best light.

For those who are easily offended, artwork by Wayne White should be avoided at all costs.

He is known to say extreme things and includes quite a bit of profanity depending on the art piece.

While most grown adults don’t consider this to be a problem, it does cause some people to take pause with this artist.

However, whether you like what he has to say or not, there is no denying his talent.

Wayne White does an excellent job of making beautiful creations that certainly pack a punch.

If the point of art is to make people talk, White does truly great work.

Jenny Holzer

An American artist of some renown, Jenny Holzer rose to fame in the early to late 1980s with her projection work, a new technology at the time.

She would use LEDs to broadcast messages in places like Times Square in New York City.

The themes of her work include the difficulties of modern life, religion, and gender.

She often used direct language combined with shocking phrasing to force her viewers to confront the day’s political issues.

She would often engrave poetic feminist statements and statements of individuality into stone benches made of serious mediums such as marble or spotted granite.

Typically, these are all caps, serif lettering in the form of a formal proclamation.

For example, one reads, “RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY.” 

These public benches transform a public space into a site of artistic activism for Holzer.

Much of her work focuses on the ability to get a direct message out there. 

Sean Landers

Some critics have described Sean Lander’s work as “cringeworthy, but in a challenging way.”

His 1990s ink-on-paper works reveal private, heartfelt confessions from the artist’s life.

For example, his misspelling of ‘threw’ as ‘through’ in one piece makes one feel the authenticity of his confession all the more, even while it lowers his credibility. 

The art world can be a strange place. His work at times can be lewd and full of oversharing, such as mentioning his masturbation rituals in a 1993 work.

But these words do seem to serve a higher purpose – to reveal his authentic self, however still curated, directly to the observer. 

Today, his recent work continues on the subject matter of aging and his potential for a lasting legacy.

It remains as confessional and open as ever.

Adam Pendleton

Adam Pendleton uses language as his primary means of artistic expression.

He is inspired by the dadaists and surrealists of the inter-war period to express his own concerns as a black American.

However, conceptual artists like Pendleton don’t always allow their work to be understood at first glance. 

His work is contemporary, using silkscreens, ink, and spraypaints to throw up countless letters and messages on canvases.

A single word might be used repeatedly to make a point, or placed amongst many others in a state of flux.

Most of it is indecipherable, but the knowledge that a message is trying to convey meaning in the chaos is poignant. 

His work is not always illegible, however, he has been known to use phrases from writers such as Gertrude Stein, who experimented extensively with repeated and repetitive language.

Also, the musician Sun Ra.

He often overlays a collage of strange backdrops to heighten the sense of layered meaning in his work. 

He lets his thoughts be seen more clearly in some rare pieces, such as a 2015 piece in which the phrase “Black Lives Matters” appears clearly and boldly.

Christopher Wool

Christopher Wool is best known for his stark word paintings of black, stenciled letters on white canvas with strange juxtapositions of common words and sayings.

These famous works were produced in the late 1980s and are among his first works.

Since then, his style has evolved to include a strong sense of the liminal and erasure. 

In some works, he combines painting techniques with gestures of erasure to create depth.

The canvas gains a new sense by layering sayings and their removal, often leaving ghostly impressions of previous phrases. 

His paintings can often be seen as inviting you to guess at what is missing, defined by the erasures, and what is held back as they are by what remains. 

Steve Powers

Stever Powers, also known as ESPO, has been using text in his works since his days as a graffiti artist.

Even his full-time studio artworks since 2000 still harken back his to graffiti roots. 

His work tends towards vintage sign painting, celebrating a different time.

He uses clever wordplay to convey powerful messages in his work.

Working in Philadelphia in collaboration with Philadelphia Mural Arts, his large-scale project A Love Letter for You can be seen across 50 rooftops in the city, representing a large body of work. 

His works tend to have uplifting messages meant to be both thought-provoking and optimistic. 

Ben Eine 

Another graffiti artist turned respected word artist, Ben Eine came to international acclaim when British Prime Minister David Cameron gifted then-President Barack Obama one of Eine’s paintings. 

His precise creations look like real vintage sign work done to an extreme for the contemporary eye.

They are bold and usually colorful, sometimes with a clear message and other times without. 

His popularity is of little surprise due to his statement pieces’ beauty and impact.

In addition, his typographic style is clearly influenced by both his street art and modern graphic design. 

Hamish Fulton

An earlier artist of the period, London-born Hamish Fulton walked through the highly varied landscapes in countries such as Norway, Mexico, and Tibet in 1969 for inspiration.

He uses plain typography splayed over photographic images of the landscapes he walked to evoke a romantic, pastoral sense of place.

His solitary journeys are reflected in the landscapes through the use of his observations and emotions present in the text.

The central role of the landscapes interplays with the subtle textual elements to elevate the places into the realm of the personal while still capturing their natural quality.

His work has been displayed widely, included in major museum collections such as Tate Britain and MoMA.


Great art comes in all shapes and sizes.

Sometimes it is images, it is symbols, or it’s words.

At the end of the day, it is a matter of creating something great.

These artists all set out to say something.

Not just with words, but in general.

The reality is that they put in the time, though, and effort to make it work.

These amazing word artists are not just successful because of what they have to say.

Modern artists are successful because they know how to bring their visions to fruition and they do it very well.