Non-Trashy Recycled and Trash Art

Artists are usually ahead of the curve when it comes to being green.

The artists featured here exclusively use recycled and/or trash to make pieces of contemporary art. These artists practice the art of “upcycling”, or literally turning everyday trash into creative treasures.

While Andy Warhol may have made the idea popular with his famous Campbell’s soup can exhibit, today’s trash artists bring more of an eco street cred to their art.

Some create compositions from recycled plastic bag or themed works for art galleries, while others create entire theme parks with trash, and even furniture from recycled materials.

There seems to be no end to what kind of art you can create with the most cost-effective medium available; trash. Here are some stunning examples of trash art


Tim Nobel & Sue Webster

Tim and Sue met while they were studying Fine Arts in University together. Now they are best known for their art made from trash collected from the London streets, which shows an image when light is projected in front of it.


Vik Muniz

The author arranges all of the pieces carefully, photographs the collages, and then destroys them so that they only exist as photographs. Muniz also mixes junk with luxury goods such as caviar in his collages to make a statement about consumerism.


Bernard Pras

Pras creates tributes to celebrity portraits and other works of art through a process called anamorphosis, during which he stacks everyday objects on a photograph to form a collage.


Sarah-Jane van der Westhuizen

The art is created from old car parts, recycled metal pieces, and anything the artist could get her hands on. Van der Westhuizen has installed several of these trash sculptures all over Europe.


David Mach

Hundreds of used coathangers go into the sculpture work of David Mach, who uses other recycled materials to do larger-than-life sculptures. This gorilla is one of his most impressive examples.


Frank Russell

The shark piece below, Captain Crunch, was constructed from hubcaps, food packaging tins, and the leg of a male mannequin. The fins are copper and the teeth are soup cans. It is ten feet long. Russell specializes in these sculptures produced from found objects.


Tim Gaudreau

Gaudreau’s work combines photography, video, new-media, graphics, and sculpture with humor and irony to create collaborations that advocate for a greater awareness of eco-issues and empowerment. Gaudreau photographed everything he threw out every day for a year. The resulting collage was huge and filled a few rooms at the gallery it was exhibited in.


Mario Caicedo Langer

Langer creates sculpture from trash and broken gadgets.


Dave Hind

Dave is a Hamilton, Ontario artist who specializes in reclaimed metal and other found objects in his works. He also produces large-scale sculpture and functional artwork.


Jason Mercier

Mercier specializes in celebrity collages done with the celebrity’s own discarded objects. While Hello Kitty likely didn’t discard any objects, Donald Trump and Mariah Carey probably did.


Tom Deininger

Deininger is widely known as a famous artist who upcycles junk into fine art installations. He is also a highly regarded and collected visual artist.


Michelle Stitzlein

Stitzlein creates art from found materials such as piano keys, broken china, and other recycled items.


Kitty Wales

Wales has been created sculptures, designs, and installations for the last fifteen years that centre on her observations of the animal world. The material that she uses to created her various animal sculptures is salvaged from everyday domestic life.


Mark Langan

Langan creates art from reclaimed cardboard and other materials. Scream was created from corrugated cardboard and other recycled materials. Langan works with non-toxic glue, an exacto knife, and a lot of patience.


Robert Bradford

Bradford, a former psychotherapist, is best known for creating sculptures from toy parts. He screws the toy parts onto a wooden armature to create his 3D sculptures.


Subodh Gupta

Brass pots and eerie skulls from a mashup of metal parts are just part of what this skilled Indian artist has done.


Ha Schult

Schult is known for creating massive installations of people constructed from trash in major locations around the world. Here are just a few of them.


Tyree Guyton

Guyton created the Heidelburg Project as an urban renewal project, transforming a rundown section of Detroit from a place where people were afraid to walk to an art exhibition that people wanted to visit.


Elizabeth Lundberg Morisette

ClementineMom on Flickr, Morisette specializes in making art from items she purchases off of eBay or otherwise found objects.


Charles Kaufman

Kaufman’s crushed can art is done on crushed soda and beer cans.


Chris Jordan

Jordan’s Running the Numbers series aims to display America’s relationship with consumerism. While he doesn’t physically make art from trash, he does showcase the wastefulness of a consumerist society eloquently. The first image, Plastic Bottles, is a shot of 2 million plastic bottles shows how many plastic bottles Americans go through in five minutes. The second, Packing Peanuts is a photograph of 166,000 packing peanuts, or the number of overnight packages shipped by air every hour. The third image, is a recreation of Seurat’s masterpiece, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of Grand Jatte, done with 106,000 aluminum cans. A closeup of the work is immediately beneath it.


Gugger Petter

This artist creates two and three-dimensional collages from newspaper.


Ptolemy Elrington

While he built his reputation creating creatures from hubcaps, Elrington has since branched out into grocery cart parts and old pots and pans.


Nek Chand

About 40 years ago, Chand cleared some jungle to build a garden in his native India. He put together a few sculptures using found materials and old trash. Now, his “garden” covers 40 acres and includes numerous mosaics and sculptures made from reclaimed materials.


Yong Ho Ji

Yong makes sculptures out of old tires. He sees tires as a symbol of out-of-control consumerism.


Carolien Adriaansche

A Dutch artist, Adriaansche creates colourful pieces that are put together from every day trash such as bottle caps, wire, sticks, and cleaning bottles.


Steven Siegel

Siegel creates large trash forms and places them in the middle of various landscapes. Electronic waste on the Stanford campus and newspapers with headlines about Hurricane Katrina feature prominently in the following installations.

What do you think of this type of art? Do you know of any other great artists? Please share with us…


    One man’s trash is another man’s art? Very interesting stuff!

  • John Paul Aguiar

    Gorilla and shark are unbelievable. Sanford and Son would be very proud right now. :)

  • Melody

    :) My fav is definitely the trash that makes the shadow on the wall…but the spaceman guy looks like that horror movie villian with the spikes in his face haha..

  • texturezine

    Vaoww amazing great post. Thanks

  • creative_blondes

    ABSOLUTELY STUNNING !!!!! The first ones with the shadows are amazing!! And I loved to see the painting The Scream in there too. I’m gonna show this post to my mom.

  • Liora

    Wow, I feel as if I’ve just been in a huge museum. Thanks for the tour! I am blown away by most of the artists, though my favorite is Carolien Adriaansche. I’d love that type of art in my house.

  • Jignesh Sharma

    Creativity has no limits….. really Amazing

  • **..Cute Web Designer..**

    Thanks for sharing.

    Absolutely Awesome. The Shadows art was amazing…. @ it first i cant believe what it was.
    Then came the “Che” That its really a peace of art. it was mind blowing…

    Great Share..

  • michelle

    hummm strange, not really my taste in art (sorry) but then it wouldn’t do if we were all the same :)

  • Saoo

    Oooh! Amazing ideas

  • Teacher Teacher

    These are each amazing, and many are quite visually appealing. Am I the only one, however, who senses the incongruity in making a statement about waste, but using up a lot of valuable land to display these social comments? For example, the 40 acres of lush land in India, couldn’t that be farmed to provide food for the huge numbers of Indian poor?

  • tuxedoedlobster

    Ain’t nothin’ like the real thing, Baby… If Van Gogh and Michelangelo could see us go!

  • Ashely Adams : Online Printing

    This is so inspiring. When the world is your canvas and you can dare to be really creative, fantastic art happens. Ashes to diamonds, eh?

  • sonichtml

    Very creative.

  • Steve Martin

    Amazing… I just wonder seeing this creative arts…. Shadow images and celebrity images are awesome….Thanks for sharing….

  • rfbellerose

    Fantastic, Dave Hind fan for sure.

  • Justin Zalewski

    I love the tire sculptures, among others. Truly inspiring.

  • Mar

    Absolutely fascinating art. Thanks for this compilation–I particularly enjoyed Mach’s work, and Nobel & Webster’s.

  • 2gb usb stick

    Very creative pictures.I love to collect such kind of art pictures.Pictures by Gugger Petter are amazing.

  • Victoria

    All these artists are amazing! It so good to see how artists can use whats available to make something beautiful and meaningful!

    My dad does the found object metal and chainsaw sculpture! He’s been doing it for 20 years and he keeps getting more and more creative. Check him out!

  • Chris Mauck

    I have a friend who recycles old tools and metal into yard art animals. His site is in development but some pics can be found at

  • merrickb

    inspiring! thank you for sharing!

    since you asked.. :) here are a few “recycled art” pieces of mine:

    merrick brown

  • James

    Some incredible sculptures shown here!

    I especially enjoyed the first ones using the shadow technique, I can’t imagine how they figured out how to sculpt it properly!

    Great post.

  • wien

    great post, there was some nice ideas, thanks

  • romack

    very resourceful


  • cbird

    Cool stuff – thanks for that. Another great enviro artist is an Australian called John Dahlsen. He makes sculptures and installations using plastic, rope, shoes etc. that he finds washed up on the beach shore.

  • Arnaldo

    Absolutely Awesome.

  • Asula

    Wowo Awesome! if everyone of us can recycle rubbish then there won’t be so much rubbish in this world

  • http://artist Margie C

    Very creative art show. I would like to mention Mark Langans work. I feel his work would take the top prize in any media art show.
    Tom Deininger is a master artist. His skill is unbelieveable. His ability as he applies the colors with found material is unbeatable against the artist that has his palette in front of him. How he mixes all the colors and implied brushstrokes is a wonder to behold.

  • http://artist Margie C.

    Very creative art show! Mark Langan work is incredible. Tom Deininger is a master artist. His skill is unbelievable. His ability as he applies the colors with found material against the artist that has his paint palette in front of him is unbeatable. How he mixes all the colors and implied brushstrokes is a wonder to behold.

  • Sam Logan

    Great collection, I especially like David Mach’s coat-hanger artwork.

  • Billy

    Wonderful use of rubbish, now I have an excuse for keeping useless things in my draws, it’s the beginnings of an art piece! Great work by all the artists

  • Sarah-Jane van der Westhuizen

    Lovely to see my work on here! What a surprise…..don’t know how it got here. If people want to get in touch to chat, buy, commission etc., my website is
    Constantly making new and bigger stuff – currently working on two life-sized LIONS for public art display in the city of Bath, UK this summer. 100 lion models, decorated by different artists. All go to auction in October 2010. Google:Lions of Bath.
    I am honoured to have my work alongside such famous artists.

  • Stephanie

    Great article!
    Thanks for featuring Detroit and Tyree Guyton – the Heidelburg Project is a unique place and I often visit it to see what else Tyree is working on.

  • Pat

    What a terrific site. I am so excited to see all the work….I am going to be creating recycled art with my students and I am researching ideas. I would love to know the methods used by the artists to construct their sculptures….adhesives used, etc.
    Thanks so much for putting all these artists in one place.

  • nghi

    the gorilla scuplture made out of coathangers is really impressive

  • hayvancılık

    I am so excited to see all the work….I am going to be creating recycled art with my students and I am researching ideas. I would love to know the methods used b

  • daviyonna

    i love all the things yall artis that made the trash art. can you make more?:( please

  • Elana Babb

    What a cool site. My Junior Girl Scout Troop ( South West Florida Troop 416) will be making Trashy Art to learn that there’s more than one way to recycle. Thank You for some of these great ideas. Love It. I will try to post some after we are done. Let’s see what some young ladies can come up with. This is going to be FUN.