New York native Ian Sullivan uses spray paint, acrylics and ink to create murals, illustrations, cityscapes and designs that capture the energy and edge of his hometown. Ian’s pieces are easily recognized by his unique style, a fusion of traditional and graffiti elements. His most iconic style is called Fear of Negative Space, in which shapes, lines and often hidden messages fill the canvas almost in its entirety.
Ian’s works often feature Syn, a fictional persona he uses to communicate his feelings of the moment. Using Syn as contrast to the cold streets of certain New York neighborhoods, Ian’s art deconstructs the complexities of growing up in the world’s most unrelenting city.
Ian’s works have been featured in some of the top art galleries in New York City. He was recently commissioned for a large-scale mural at One World Trade Center.
Ian’s style was developed largely through astute observation of his surroundings, riding the subway with some of the world’s top unknown artists on display throughout the city streets. Combined with his love of anime and natural talent as an illustrator — honed at the Pratt Institute — the rebellious yet increasingly mainstream fundamentals of graffiti have largely shaped the artist Ian has become.
But it was a boring English class that sparked Ian’s signature style, Fear of Negative Space. As Ian drew his graffiti tag over and over to kill time, he realized the interlocking designs were seamlessly fitting together to create intricate networks of patterns. When he then expanded the technique beyond his own tag, the possibilities became endless.
Ian credits legendary artist Keith Haring as one of his top influences. “I love that guy,” he says of Hering, who used the primacy of line and directness of message to express universal concepts of birth, death, love, sex and war.