Inner City Snails: Graffiti Humanizes The Urban Mollusc


Like it or not, graffiti can add a bright, brilliant dimension to urban landscapes that are too often drab and drained of life… but what if the landscape itself is alive? “Inner City Snail”, a unique concept by acclaimed creative master Slinkachu, uses non-toxic paint to turn sluggish molluscs into miniature masterpieces of urban art.


Signs Of Life

(images via: Inner City Snail and More Intelligent Life)

Famed urban guerrilla artist Banksy is not alone in turning London’s mean streets into evocative canvasses of subversive subculture. Meet Slinkachu, a 30-year-old street artist who’s based in London but has done “work” in a number of large European cities. “In 2008 I started the ‘Inner City Snail’ project, involving the decoration of snails that I find around London. After decoration, the snails are then placed back, free to go about their business in the city.”

(image via: Papersurfer)

Why paint snails? Slinkachu reasons that projects like Inner City Snail can be interpreted in a number of ways – a keystone of art that makes one think. As well, though he can be classified as a street artist, works like Inner City Snail can be seen as satirizing the genre of street art. Society’s relentless desire to appropriate every available inch of the cityscape for advertising, signage and even illegal graffiti is mocked in miniature by these pictorially modified gastropods.

Tiny Tags, Tinier Taggers

(image via: Inner City Snail)

Slinkachu selected a number of hardy London snails to become part of Inner City Snail; once “prepared”, they were gently released to continue their slow-motion journey through England’s largest city.

For those who have qualms as to the morality of painting a living creature, Slinkachu stresses that the paint used may be long-lasting but it’s also non-toxic. As he puts it, “No snails were harmed, they just had their homes vandalized”.

Human Es-Cargo

(images via: Kanye Universe City and Inner City Snail)

In his online presentation of Inner City Snails, Slinkachu provides a series of images that quickly zoom out, bringing the small size of the illustrated snails and the intricacy of their designs into perspective. Not only paint is used – tiny plastic figurines are photographed either alongside their hard-shelled co-stars or, in the case above, affixed to them to be a permanent part of the roving exhibit.

Shell Out For Parking Fines


(images via: Inner City Snail)

Sure, snails move slowly but slow enough to attract parking tickets? Sad but true – London’s a big city and it can use all the revenue it can get. Hard to think how the unfortunate snail above is going to pay the fine… and if it doesn’t? Well, there’s always Snail Jail.

The Road Less Traveled, More Painted

(images via: Concrete-Canvas and Quirky Insider)

Slinkachu’s styled snails (and others of their ilk) are a movable feast – for the eyes, at least. Imagine coming across one of the artist’s “models” while enjoying an outdoor work break or simply sitting in one’s garden at home?

(image via: McCrappy)

It’s doubtful anyone could fail to be affected in some manner by any artistically modified snail. Love them or hate them, living artworks like Inner City Snails are certain to move anyone who encounters them… albeit very slowly.

Living Color

(image via: FreakingNews)

Slinkachu hardly has a monopoly on the questionable practice of painting snails. Take the example above, obviously crafted by someone of some talent but who prefers to let their work speak for them. It bears repeating that anyone seeking to emulate Slinkachu by attempting their own series of snail shell artistry should ensure that they use only non-toxic paints.

This Is Sparta?

(image via: Ant Graffiti)

Though it appears by the looks of it to be a semi-skilled work of photo-shoppery, the snail above is more noteworthy for the message than for the medium. “Ant-agonize All Humans”, reads the glammed-up gastropod above, which hails from Sparta, Georgia. Wouldn’t it be cool if there were 300 of them sliming about? Wouldn’t it be even cooler if they decided to invade Athens?


(image via: MaikT)

Painted or not, snail shells are marvels of natural engineering and evolutionary design. Are we humans so arrogant as to think we can improve on a design that can trace its lineage back hundreds of millions of years? Perhaps “improve” isn’t the right word… “complement” works much better.

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