Who is stikman?

stickman | photo courtesy Flickr user Lord Jim
stickman | photo courtesy Flickr user Lord Jim

Popping up on the radar of unassuming pedestrians all around Boston, a piece of Guerilla art is getting noticed and his name is stikman.

Part robot, part skeleton, and part ghost, stikman (with a lowercase S and no C) was most notably featured in a Washington Post article, grabbing attention all around the nation’s capital. More people became wise to the guerilla art, and soon he began popping up in New York, Philadelphia, and Los Angeles to name a few. stikman can be seen in Boston as well, and from Harvard Square to the North End it’s clear that this strange yet oddly lovable creature has become a staple in urban art.

Although the shape remains the same, stikman is formed with a variety of materials: plastic, wood, and even cloth. stikman’s favorite place seems to be the road, where the unassuming pedestrians can spot him with their heads down. He is often seen as creepy, frozen, or awkward, but the internet has taken with him. A large Flickr pool with over 1,000 images of stikman is just the tip of the obsession iceberg, with curious purveyors wondering just exactly who stickman is and how he got on Boston streets and across the country.

That very same Washington Post article cites the creator of stikman as a man simply known as “Bob” who has spread over 150 likenesses of stikman as a sort of “artistic Johnny Appleseed.” Whether Bob is the true initiator of the stikman movement seems shaky, but it is clear that whoever thrusted stikman into existence has left behind a rich tradition.

The movement seems to have started years ago, with many representations thought to be destroyed with

stikman by a manhole | photo courtesy Flickr user Lord Jim
stikman by a manhole | photo courtesy Flickr user Lord Jim

years of pedestrian wear and tear. Yet, it seems curious that stikman is still a wonderful and new discovery to those passersby without a clue he’s laying under their feet. It could also be easily assumed that those who fall in love with stikman are also likely to perpetuate his existence by restoring and producing new likenesses to cities all across the America.

stikman and his other guerilla art bretheren (like the well-known Toynbee tiles) have taken to a new culture on the internet. What could have essentially been another whimsical piece of art has taken on an interesting life of its own, as people have begun to track stikman like a modern Sherlock Holmes mystery or maybe secretly make one themselves. Yet, the greater symbol of stikman seems to be touching, even if we never really know who is putting him on the street: Even if life seems like the same old thing, all you have to do is look in a new place and discover one little thing that makes it all worthwhile.

About Lauren Hockenson

Lauren Hockenson (CAS/COM '11) is the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Quad.

View all posts by Lauren Hockenson →

2 Comments on “Who is stikman?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *