An Artist’s Eye For Ordinary Objects: Tom Bob’s Creative Street ArtBy Ashley M
Street artist Tom Bob’s self-proclaimed mission to make the streets of New York City more beautiful and inviting through his colorful artwork has most certainly succeeded in the viewers’ eyes. He not only transforms the cityscapes and unsightly urban sprawl into beautiful pieces of art, he helps to transform the lives of the people living in the various communities around the city. As we get older, we tend to forget to see the fun in even the smallest of things. Gone are the days of no responsibility and child-like creativity – growing up can sometimes turn the world grey. However, Tom Bob is a particular artist refusing to accept the monotony of everyday life. While turning ubiquitous objects typically ignored into inspirational pieces of urban street art, Bob is bringing much-needed color into a world that’s forgotten how to have fun. Join us as we reveal 45 of our favorite Tom Bob art pieces.
Psst!! Wanna Buy Some Time? (California)
Take a stroll down this California street, and you may be greeted by a suspicious-looking guy trying to sell you some time. Whether you make a purchase or not, this is just Tom Bob’s way of bringing life into these forgotten electrical meters.
Decked out in a steely blue trench coat, this guy is looking to sell you an extra thirty minutes in the morning so you can finally make it to work on time. We would happily buy a few extra minutes, that’s for sure.
Construction is never-ending in New York. There are always improvements to be made in the city that never sleeps. Bob brings the Halloween spirit to NY’s streets in the form of a neon roadblock transformed into a menacing Jack-O-Lantern.
Although Halloween only comes once a year, who says we can’t get into the seasonal mood all the time? We certainly wouldn’t mind this guy becoming a permanent resident on the roads. Bring on the festive mood. One pumpkin spiced latte coming up.
New York’s concrete jungle is also one that’s partly made of metal. A city made with all this shiny stuff will often leave certain sections forgotten with time. Bob rejuvenates this decaying metal tile into an aquatic icon – the Pufferfish.
Resembling the white and brown dots of this poisonous fish, this rusty metal tile will most likely get more attention than it ever had before. Just don’t go stepping on this guy. We all know what he’s capable of.
The Big Apple
Tom Bob strikes again, bringing a burst of color to this dingy NY street in the form of a juicy red apple. Repurposing an old water pipe into a fun and vibrant design adds much-needed color to the lackluster street.
Creating the illusion of a green worm snuggled in a delicious red apple, Tom Bob will no doubt spark the imagination of passers-by – or scare unsuspecting ones. We also have to point out that the worm is super cute.
Escape From Alcatraz
The cartoonish nature of this next piece is just an extension of Tom Bob’s wild imagination and depicts his exceptional artistic talents. He reimagined a set of old pipes into a frantic prisoner escaping from San Francisco’s Alcatraz Island.
What looked like a dull corrugated fence prior to his incredible touch is now an eye-catching image with a story to tell. Who is this guy? Aren’t there sharks around Alcatraz? These are questions you’ll no doubt be thinking about on your way across town.
Unwelcoming concrete pillars and steel metal structures are synonymous with city infrastructure around the world. Who said we couldn’t shake things up a little and revamp the city’s uninspired foundations? Tob Bob envisions it in a completely different light, and we are living for it.
This bare-boned metal bench looks to be in the middle of nowhere and unlikely to attract anyone to its vicinity. Tom Bob gives this spot new life and a chance for visitors to enjoy a lovely painting of a boy happily playing the Xylophone.
This Traffic Cone is Over it
Who isn’t bored of endless road construction? Orange traffic cones are a daily sight for most people living in major cities, and usually, we don’t pay them much mind. You’ll have to stop and look twice after seeing this cool traffic cone that looks ready to quit his job.
Tom Bob brings this wilted traffic cone to life with an expression we’ve all felt at some point throughout the week. It’s hot as all-get-out, and he’s still gotta get through the rest of the day. We feel ya, buddy!
Drains aren’t supposed to be glamorous. They fulfill their intended purpose, and we think no more of it. If we shared the same creativity as Tom Bob, perhaps we all could find inspiration in even the most ubiquitous objects in our cities.
This old rusty drain probably never received as much attention before as it does now after being revamped into this painting of a screw. We’re sure there’s a giant house somewhere up in the clouds in need of this crucial and hefty component.
Piping is so prevalent amongst infrastructure. Why would we even pay it any attention? We don’t think we could say the same for this NYC drain pipe. This vibrant piece will surely draw the eyes of passers-by with its playful creativity.
Reimagining the pipe as a snorkel, Tom Bob transforms an old dusty pipe into a colorful orange, blue, and red art piece of a boy exploring the blue sea. If this doesn’t make you want to book your next vacation to Cancun, we don’t know what will.
No one wants a meter-long caterpillar crawling down their hallway unless it’s this friendly guy. What was once a very boring pair of lights and some wiring has now become a helpful yellow and green caterpillar with lights for eyes.
Lurking above the doorway, ready to illuminate your path, Tom Bob turns this essential everyday item into a helpful creepy critter. Let’s just hope he doesn’t come alive and roam the halls after dark. We have to say, though, he is pretty cute.
Without the directional assistance of yellow lines to guide us, city life would be chaos. We all know signals and signs are essential, but who said they couldn’t be fun? Tom Bob reimagines this yellow road marking into a candy-colored pencil.
Simple yet imaginative, this otherwise unremarkable strip of paint can now impress and inspire with its playful presence. It can potentially inspire young minds, and we can see this fun design perfectly suited outside of an elementary school.
A true artist knows how to transform an existing resource into something better and brighter. That’s exactly what Tom Bob did with this forgotten Zebra patchwork shed. Art is about interpretation and cultivating a vision before it’s come to fruition.
The vision comes to life by way of this Zebra stenciled over a bright blue backdrop. Relegated to the forgotten back streets of NYC, this shed already had potential. Owning black and white markings that resemble the famous African animal, Bob utilized the pattern and brought it to life.
Is it us, or does this storm drain look familiar? That’s probably what Tom Bob thought when he came across it. Distinctly red, this storm drain resembles that of Captain America’s famous indestructible shield. Is he thinking what we’re thinking?
That’s right. Of course, this tattered storm drain is a perfect canvas for recreating the iconic Marvel character. Even better, Bob also reminds citizens to let their voices be heard. Don’t forget to vote from your friendly hero, Captain America.
Candy Covered Wall
This street design makes us sweet tooth people especially hungry. Who doesn’t love candy? In his usual playful style, Tom Bob transforms this mundane tiled wall into an illusionary bar of chocolate. It looks so real, we can almost taste it.
Bringing a much-needed boost of energy to this humble corner store, customers are now constantly tempted to indulge in confectionary goodness when passing by. Its dual-purpose in enlivening the atmosphere while acting as a perfect marketing tool makes this piece one of our favorites.
There’s no shortage of drain pipes for Tom Bob to take inspiration from in NYC. On every corner and above every house, drain pipes are all around us and serve as the veins of our infrastructure. There’s no covering them up, so why not make them into something more?
Tom Bob’s vibrant designs promise to transform essential objects into a piece of art while challenging societal norms. Who says a huge red-dotted lizard can’t scale our apartment buildings and consume rainwater? All those in favor of allowing this new resident to stay, say I.
Key To My Heart
Much like drains, bike posts are everyday ubiquitous objects we pay little attention to. Scattered throughout our towns and cities, these things are innumerable. Bob does a fantastic job at creating a 3D illusion which promises to capture hearts.
Once Tom has finished his magic, the ornate design of this bike post perfectly resembles a key unlocking a big red heart. It’s guaranteed to make you think you’ve become a target of cupid. Could spotting this gorgeous mural signify romance in your near future?
Find your way onto this street and you’ll see this cute little bed of flowers that are guarded by a friendly face. It’s a new neighbor in town, and he’s adorable. Donning a full head of grassy hair, this artistic piece is sure to impress and put a smile on your face.
Bringing his signature quirk to this small sidewalk, Bob once again elevates an otherwise simple space and cultivates a warm and welcoming vibe. Positive efforts that enrich and contribute to the community can often go unnoticed. This piece is sure to grab your attention. Thanks, Tom.
Head Over Heels
This next work of art is one of the most interesting pieces by far. The head-over-heels graffiti shows a man attempting a handstand in a somewhat weird position. We are not sure what the purpose of this big metal ball is, but now it captures the attention it never had before.
Adding a playful and vibrant element to the surrounding community, he’s sure to put a smile on your face when you’re walking the kids to school in the morning. These pieces might also bring out the creative artist in your kids and inspire them.
This Is An Adventure
What makes Tom Bob so great are his ingenious visions. Who would have thought that painting a giant homage to Steve Zissou would have such a dramatic effect on the landscape? We definitely didn’t, but we were obviously so wrong.
This is by far one of our favorites, and we are sure that it creates some very happy sailors when they take their boats out to catch some early morning fish. It’s also an amazing spot to reference if one of your buddies gets lost!
Electrical maintenance boxes can be an eyesore. We mean, who wants to look at an unsightly box that leaves little to the imagination? Well, enter Tom Bob with this adorable display of two birds that appear to be in love.
This beautiful illustration shows a blue bird and a pink bird kissing in what may look like a classic Hannah Barbera sketch. It makes us feel all warm and cozy on the inside and reminds us of the cartoons we used to watch as a kid.
Don’t Lose Your Head
In today’s modern world, cameras are everywhere. They are helpful for tracking bad apples and making the world a little safer, and they can sometimes look uninviting. That was until Tom Bob made his way onto the New York streets and created this cool piece.
We see the depiction of a fly, but more than that, it also represents vision and integrity. Flies are known to have an impeccable vision, and we think this piece is a direct comment on the state of surveillance that we live in today.
This one is rather unusual in that it’s a cover-up of another piece of art, and it is found inside what looks like an antique shop. The brilliant mind of Tom Bob stops at nothing and uses everyday eyesores to create his magic.
This piece is, in particular, striking in that it’s actually drawn on an internal pipe. We don’t know what the pipe is actually used for, but the 3D effect is something that we just can’t get enough of—well done, Tom Bob, for adding some much-needed color to a gloomy aesthetic.
Now, we all know who everyone’s favorite villain is from the Batman movies. It’s the Joker, of course. He’s an iconic character that we all love to hate, and Tom Bob’s iteration is a little creepy yet impressive, to say the least.
The oversized head and protruding lips of Tom Bob’s version of the Joker tell an unsettling story that we are itching to find out more about. It seems that the Joker is holding a paintbrush, which in our opinion, signifies that he’s in charge of his own destiny. Whatever it is, we are intrigued and bewildered by this piece and its inherent meaning.
Who doesn’t love Dalmatians? Cruella De Ville, that’s who. All jokes aside, this piece is super smart and we love it. Dogs have an affinity for peeing on fire hydrants, so what better way to make social commentary on the subject than by painting a famous dog breed straight onto the metal exterior.
It’s super smart and must have taken a lot of vision and thought due to the fire hydrants’ unusual shape and form. We hope that Cruella De Ville doesn’t see it and tries to take off with it during the night.
I Come From a Land Down Under Koala
Koala bears are notoriously cute. That’s a given. These mundane-looking stairs could be anywhere in the world. And, they weren’t particularly inspiring until Tom Bob got his hands on them. Now, everybody is curious as to what’s behind that window.
Now the stoop has been transformed into a beautiful mural that will make Australian expats jump for joy. The cuteness and the unbridled attention to detail on the koala bear make this one of our faves. The added peace sign is also a cute way of uniting the local community too!
Now, Tom Bob is notorious for his transformation of ground pieces, and he likes to draw on anything from drains, sewer lids, and grates. His ingenious vision gives him clarity and purpose when he’s creating one of his bespoke masterpieces.
This diving bell is reminiscent of the kinds used in the 1920s and is quite beautiful when you take a closer look. Tom Bob might be making a social commentary here about New York’s aeronautical industry. Whatever the inspiration for the piece was, we think it adds life and character to an already vibrant city.
What’s Up Doc?
This one made us chuckle, we must admit. You don’t get a lot of artists who are willing to paint on top of public restrooms. It probably isn’t the cleanest environment, but that hasn’t stopped Tom Bob from putting his vision out there.
It’s reminiscent of the famous Bugs Bunny character and our second reference to Hannah Barbara on this list. We see a pattern here, and one might assume that Tom Bob has an affinity for early Hanah Barbara animations. Everyone has to be inspired by someone, right?
This one looks like it came straight out of the Tate gallery and is reminiscent of the late 90s and early 2000s art culture popularized by Damien Hurst. It’s a beautifully constructed zip that uses inherent geometric design to add layers, form, and shape.
Without getting too artsy-fartsy, this is a simple piece that simply denotes a zipper. But beyond that, Tom Bob has encapsulated the three-dimensional structure perfectly and we can’t wait to see him build on this specific and unique style.
Before this image of a cat was ever so graciously painted onto someone’s front door, it looked as though there was a big grey and brown smudge in the way. The attention to detail here is amazing, and the cat is actually adorable.
Tom Bob has managed to incorporate the rust and color palette of the original door to add layers and texture to his very ‘purrfectly’ pretty kitty. She now adorns the alley and is the perfect artistic addition that we are sure will make passers-by smile.
Here we go again with the pipes. We always love it when a piece of artwork is nuanced or has design elements that aren’t always apparent at first glance. This is the case with the dog you see illustrated in this Tom Bob design.
We’ve done our research and have found that this area is notorious for dog poop. Owners aren’t picking up after their dogs, and it’s causing a real stink for local residents in New York. Enter the brilliance of Tom Bob who has captured the feeling of local residents perfectly with his tongue-in-cheek iteration.
Money, as they say
As you continue reading down this list, you might start to notice a theme. These aren’t just random street drawings that have no commentary or meaning. If you look deeper into the nuances of the location, there is always something to gawk at.
That’s the case with this fabulously funny piece. It depicts a bluebird holding a bag of money with a cunning look on its face. The bird’s head is drawn on a CCTV camera, and our savvy Google maps research tells us that a bank is located nearby. Coincidence? We think not.
It Was Like Running Into A Brick Wall
America is obsessed with football. It is a part of the country’s identity. And, some of the players are built like brick walls. This is exactly what Tom Bob was getting at in this particular piece with his homage to American football.
It’s always nice to see an artist paying tribute to something they love and appreciate. You can clearly see Bob’s love for the game through the sheer size of the piece. It’s absolutely massive and one of the biggest on our list today.
Now, this one immediately made us think of that scene from the movie IT when he drags the little boy into the storm drain and devours him. We’re kinda sad that Tom Bob didn’t decide to reference the famous scene from IT, but it might have been too scary for the general public if we’re being completely honest.
That being said, this cute Tiger mural is a kid-friendly design that uses shape and form to its advantage. The three-dimensional structure of this piece is what truly sets it apart from the other entries on this list.
Who doesn’t love the genius that is Stephen Hawking? He has inspired generations with his masterful knowledge about the universe and all things academic. We truly miss him and are honored that Tom Bob chose to immortalize him in one of his pieces.
We think the actual inspiration for the piece came from the pipe on the wall that Bob has used to define Hawking’s glasses. He’s done a fantastic job of bringing the whole picture to life, and it’s probably the prettiest automatic sprinkler shut-off valve in all of New York.
Let The Sunshine In
Tom Bob is known for creating masterful street art collections and painting on some very unusual surfaces that we would never expect. That’s the case with this wonderful water fountain piece that shows two adorable and friendly sunflowers holding hands.
The piece was drawn onto public water fountains that would otherwise look mundane. We’re not quite sure where it is, but we suspect they’re on a children’s playground or a nursery. What a lovely gift for the next generation of young artists.
This delectable artwork is one of the most intricate on the list, not because of the art style which is admittedly a little basic, but because of the overall vision. Most people would look at these electricity boxes and not think anything of them, except for Tom Bob.
It takes a true artist to look at a mundane electrical box and turn it into fascinating artwork that comments on society as a whole. Automation is the future, and this may be Tom Bob’s way of letting people know that artificial intelligence may be closer than you think.
Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead
This is another one of our favorite pieces because of its reference to the Wizard of Oz. This is a culturally iconic movie that spans generations and won the hearts of thousands of people. Tom Bob’s interpretation will definitely get you thinking.
We’re not sure if he painted the yellow bricks himself, but based on the before and after images, he was definitely inspired by the foundations that were already in place. Notice the angle of the ruby red slippers; it looks as though she just clicked her way out of trouble and is now safe from the wicked witch of the East!
You Are Stronger Than You Think
The elephant and the mouse go all the way back to the early 1900s when the circus would put on massive exhibits that featured a whole host of different animals. Many people around the world also love them for their incredible cuteness and their ability to become amazing cartoon characters.
It was generally thought that elephants were frightened of mice and would stampede at their very sight, but this is a myth that was glamorized by production companies such as Disney and MGM. This piece might be a homage to movies such as Dumbo and Tarzan.
We guess we’ll never know the true inspiration for most of the artworks that were featured on today’s list, and this depiction of a unicorn is no different. It looks as though it’s been painted on a residential building. We can only imagine what was going through the artist’s mind when he was painting it.
Our best guess is that this is a public housing tenement that doesn’t have much character or identity of its own. Unicorns represent purity and freedom which seems like a fitting gift for the people who are unfortunate enough to live in this building.
This spider-inspired basketball mural is a feast for the eyes and the imagination. It’s a somewhat unsettling piece which leaves us wondering how Tom Bob was able to paint that high in the air. He must travel with an extendable ladder that allows him to reach far-flung places, pun intended.
It’s either that or he ever so awkwardly sat on the shoulders of one of the players while he completed his masterpiece. We’re not sure what the artist’s inspiration was for this piece, but we are sure that it’s rather disconcerting.
How do you like your eggs in the morning? If you don’t mind stepping all over your breakfast, you’ll love what Tom Bob has cooked up on this sidewalk. Displaying the classic morning staple, this rusty storm drain serves as the canvas for a sizzling hot pan.
Storm drains are everywhere. Their practicality usually doesn’t allow room for creative repurposing. This cool and colorful interpretation will spark the imagination of anyone walking by. If you ask us, creating art out of everyday objects should be the norm.
French Fry Girl
This is a cool multi-dimensional piece that jumps out of the wall into a surreal 3D display. The adorable French fry girl sits at 1637 Acushnet avenue and can be seen chomping on our favorite potato snack. Tom Bob made the fries look exactly like the yellow blocks.
These moss-covered concrete slabs look as forgotten as time. Tom Bob gives them new meaning and a new paint of coat – turning them into supersized fries. With the 2D and 3D elements coming together seamlessly, we’re wondering why McDonald’s didn’t think of this first?
Who doesn’t want to see Bart Simpson parachuting alongside their building? We certainly do. Unlike Sideshow Bob (who wishes Bart was dead), Tom Bob brings this iconic Simpsons character to life in this fun piece located in downtown Sacramento.
Repurposing a disused water pipe into an image of Bart Simpson descending from the skies in a parachute, Tom once again brings much-needed color to a dull and icky-looking environment. What is Bart up to? And what does Tom Bob know that we don’t? Hmmm.
Tom Bob brings the excitement of the tropics to this quaint Massachusetts street by repurposing an otherwise dull pipe and electricity box in this vibrant street mural. Our streets and house are covered in essential items that aren’t always easy on the eye.
Take this boxy electrical meter which very much needed a revamp. Using the piping as its long legs, Tom depicts the famous pink bird against a contrasting green backdrop. Elevating the entire area, this colourful creature is no doubt a welcomed addition.
Rounding out our list is this epic piece located in the depths of nature. Bringing his zany style to this New York park, Bob paints a hungry-looking squirrel into the side of a tree. This is sure to scare any other sneaky tree-dwellers away.
Covering up an ugly patch of cement somehow within the tree, Tom introduces a natural brown tone to blend with the surrounding environment while creating a fun surprise for those visiting the park. There’s a new kid in town, and he’s here to stay.
New Yorker’s have had an extremely positive reaction to Tom Bob’s Red vivid creations and welcome him with open arms. When creatives take action and use transformative street art to brighten mundane city streets, it’s always a good thing. It’s actually a reflection on the long history and artistic creativity found in New York. The poets, painters, dancers, and musicians from the bustling 1950s New York Art School movement would be proud of what Tom Bob has achieved and would surely celebrate his achievements of today.