Non-Trashy Recycled and Trash Art

Wdd Logo.
December 29, 2009

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...


WDD Staff

WDD staff are proud to be able to bring you this daily blog about web design and development. If there's something you think we should be talking about let us know @DesignerDepot.

Read Next

6 Best AI Productivity Apps in 2024

There’s no escaping it: if you want to be successful, you need to be productive. The more you work, the more you…

3 Essential Design Trends, February 2024

From atypical typefaces to neutral colors to unusual user patterns, there are plenty of new website design trends to…

Surviving the Leap from College to Real-World Design

So, you’ve finished college and are ready to showcase your design skills to the world. This is a pivotal moment that…

20 Mind-Bending Illusions That Will Make You Question Reality

Mind-bending videos. Divisive Images. Eye-straining visuals. This list of optical illusions has it all. Join us as we…

15 Best New Fonts, February 2024

Welcome to February’s roundup of the best new fonts for designers. This month’s compilation includes some innovative…

The 10 Best WordPress Quiz Plugins in 2024

Whether it’s boosting your organic search visibility or collecting data for targeted email marketing campaigns, a great…

20 Best New Websites, February 2024

It’s almost Valentine’s Day, so this latest collection is a billet-doux celebrating the best of the web this month.

Everything You Need to Know About Image Formats In 2024

Always trying to walk the tightrope between image quality and file size? Looking to branch out from JPGs and PNGs this…

The 10 Best Logos of 2023 - Ranked

From vintage aesthetics to innovative new color schemes, we’ve seen a lot of creative logo designs this year. In this…

Exciting New Tools for Designers, February 2024

2024 is well underway and shaping up to be an interesting year. So, to help you keep your focus on working hard and…

The Art of Engineering AI Prompts

In the rapidly evolving world of artificial intelligence, the ability to communicate effectively with AI tools has…

15 Best New Fonts, January 2024

In this month’s roundup of the best new fonts, we find a large number of vintage, retro, and revival typefaces. Is it…