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Discover Oslo's Epic Street Art

Discover Oslo's Epic Street Art

Let's dive into the world of the amazing artist Martin Whatson and discover the timeless art of stenciling. His captivating murals, like 'Behind the Curtain' painted in a narrow shopping arcade in Asker, have formed the inspiration behind The Geo Kid Street Art Explorer 'Oslo' Backpack.

Who is Martin Whatson?

Martin Whatson is a Norwegian street artist who was born and raised in Oslo, Norway. He discovered his passion for art at a young age and later studied at Oslo School of Architecture and Design. Whatson's artistic journey began with traditional graffiti, but in the late 1990's he found his own voice through stencil art, crediting Banksy as a key influencer. His distinctive blend of stenciling and graffiti techniques has earned him international acclaim and our admiration.

Where Can You Find Martin Whatson's Street Art in Oslo?

If you find yourself in Oslo, before heading out into the streets, make sure to check out the 'Visit OSLOregion' website. Navigate to the article "An artist's take on the Oslo region" and you will see videos of Martin talking about his different works and their locations.

Martin Whatson was commissioned to paint seven striking murals around the Oslo region at locations Asker, Loten, Vinstra, Gjovik, Oslo, Fredrikstad and Horten. They took him 8 months to complete and each mural thoughfully connects to the location that it is painted. For example, his 'Behind the Curtain' mural featuring a young boy full of curiosity and pulling back a curtain, is painted in an area with a high family demographic.  

Martin Whatson's 'Behind the Curtain' mural in Oslo Norway is the inspiration for The Geo Kid's, Street Art Explorer Oslo Backpack.

Asker, OSLO - Behind the Curtain

What Characterises Martin Whatson's Work?

Whatson's art is a captivating blend of contrasting elements usually with vacant grayscale backgrounds. He masterfully combines the beauty of delicate flowers, animals or birds with the raw energy of graffiti. This combination creates a powerful visual impact that draws viewers in and sparks their imagination. His work often features a monochromatic colour palette, with vibrant bursts of colour strategically placed to create a sense of depth and movement.

What Inspires Martin Whatson?

Whatson draws inspiration from the urban environment. He finds beauty in the forgotten and neglected corners of the city, transforming them into captivating works of art. Martin Whatson wants people to have the chance "to be more curious and play more". His pieces serve as a reminder that there is always room for beauty and creativity.

Vinstra Artwork by Martin Whatson, Oslo Norway

Vinstra, OSLO - Land of Peer Gynt

Exploring the Art of Stenciling

One of the defining aspects of Martin Whatson's art is his mastery of stenciling. But what exactly is stenciling? Stenciling is a technique that involves creating a design by cutting out a pattern on a thin material, such as paper, cardboard or acetate, and then applying paint or ink over the cut-out areas onto a surface.

Whatson creates his stencils with meticulous attention to detail and cutting them out is the most time consuming part of his artistic process. He carefully plans each design, considering the composition and the impact he wants to achieve. Once the stencil is ready, he applies layers of paint to create depth and texture, resulting in his signature style.

Martin Whatson stencil artwork Oslo

Stencilling art installation at Science Park, OSLO

History of Stenciling: Unraveling the Artistic Tapestry 

Stenciling traces its roots back to ancient civilisations, where it was primarily employed for practical purposes. In China during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE to 220 CE), intricate stencils were used to embellish textiles with intricate patterns. The art form then found its way to Japan, where it played a crucial role in shaping traditional textile designs.

During the medieval period, stenciling took on a new role as a means of adorning illuminated manuscripts. Scribes utilised stencils to replicate intricate designs, decorative initials, and even religious symbols.

The Renaissance period witnessed a resurgence of interest in stenciling, particularly in the realm of decorative arts. From ornate wall panels to intricately adorned furniture, stencils became a favoured tool for artisans seeking to replicate complex designs with precision.

As wallpaper gained popularity in the 18th century, stencils became instrumental in creating intricate and repeatable patterns. The technique allowed for cost-effective mass production.

Advancements in technology during the 19th century spurred the industrialisation of stenciling. In the 20th century, stenciling experienced a radical evolution as it found its place in the world of street art. Artists like Blek le Rat and Banksy embraced stenciling for its efficiency in conveying powerful messages and intricate designs on urban landscapes. Stencils became a tool for social commentary, rebellion, and a distinctive form of artistic protest.

Today, stenciling has seamlessly transitioned from the streets to prestigious galleries, where artists like Martin Whatson continue to push the boundaries of this versatile technique. The evolution of digital tools has further expanded the possibilities, allowing artists to create intricate stencils with unprecedented precision and complexity.

How Can You Produce Your Own Stencil Art?

If you're feeling inspired by Martin Whatson's incredible artistry, why not try your hand at stencil art? Here's a step-by-step guide to get you started:

  1. Choose a design: Select a design that resonates with you. It could be a simple shape or a more intricate pattern.
  2. Prepare your stencil: Transfer your design onto a stencil material, such as acetate or stencil paper which you can pick up from an Art and Craft store. Carefully cut out the design using a sharp craft knife. Alternatively you can purchase an endless variety of pre-made stencils online.
  3. Secure your stencil: Place your stencil onto the desired surface and secure it in place with tape or adhesive.
  4. Apply paint or ink: Using a brush or a spray can, apply paint or ink over the cut-out areas of your stencil. Be mindful of the colours you choose and the effect you want to achieve.
  5. Remove the stencil: Once the paint or ink is dry, carefully remove the stencil to reveal your stunning stencil art.

Cutting out the stencil - Martin Whatson Oslo

So, whether you're a seasoned artist or just starting on your creative journey, why not give stenciling a try? Remember, practice makes perfect. Don't be afraid to experiment and let your creativity soar.

To truly appreciate the depth and intricacy of Martin Whatson's work, we encourage you to explore more of his art. Visit his website at and immerse yourself in the vibrant world he has created.

And while you're at it, why not complement your artistic journey with the perfect companion? Our Oslo backpack is not only stylish and durable, but it also pays homage to the vibrant street art scene that Martin Whatson is a part of. Available in three sizes, find your perfect backpack and embark on your own urban adventure.

P.S. Did you know?

Whilst the concepts of aerosol probably go as far back as the 1790's, the first aerosol spray can patent was granted in Oslo in 1927 to Erik Rotheim, a Norwegian chemical engineer. A United States patent was granted for the invention in 1931 and he was considered a pioneer. The patent rights were sold to a United States company for 100,000 Norwegian kroner. Source: "Wikipedia › wiki › Aerosol_spray_dispenser

In 1949, Edward H. Seymour, of Illinois USA added paint to the aerosol spray can technology at his wife Bonnie's suggestion. It was a huge success and his patent was awarded in 1951. Spray paint is widely used by graffiti and stencil artists including Martin Whatson.

Credit: Visit OSLOregion and artist Martin Whatson - information and images sourced from article: 'An artists take on the Oslo region'.




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