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The Vine

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Home » The Vine

The Vine: November 13, 2009

Submitted by on November 13, 2009 – 9:51 AM32 Comments

rocketmanHi Sars,

I am hoping your savvy and knowledgeable Vine readers can help me find out about this little guy (picture at right). I took this pic, and another one on the mall in Washington DC, in front of the Capitol building. I took another one at the roundabout in front of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and a friend sent me a pic from NYC at East Houston and Bleecker. I am trying to figure out what he is all about, but I don't even know what to put into Google Images to begin to get info.

Want info on my Mystery Man

Dear Mystery,

I've never seen that guy. I don't think it's actually related to the Toynbee tiles, but it's probably a similar style of graffiti or culture jamming. You may want to Google a string of all the locations, and terms like "rocket" or "mystery man," and see if anyone on Flickr has posted a photo along with information.


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  • Mary says:

    There's one in Pittsburgh, too! It's at the corner of Forbes and Craig, embedded into the pavement. I think it's yellow, but I'm not there right now and I can't be sure.

    I will stay tuned for more information on this, because I am also intrigued.

  • Courtney says:

    I've seen this little guy ALL OVER the streets of DC, and no one that I have asked has known who or what he is. I hope someone here is able to answer this. Its been driving me nuts for years!

  • Cathy says:

    Google Images > "rocket robot street art " yielded this. A NYC based artist, with examples in Chicago as well.


  • Margaret in CO says:

    OOOH!!! Lookie!

  • Erica A. says:

    I've seen those on the sidewalks in Pittsburgh too and wondered what they are.

  • Laura says:

    Oh man, the Toynbee tiles! That's what I first thought of when I saw this.
    I didn't have the slightest clue what they meant, but I remember looking for them every time I went into Baltimore on field trips and with my family in the late 80s/early 90s.

  • kelly says:

    the stikman from philly

  • Hirayuki says:

    Here's more info:

    (I Googled skeleton "street art" DC and checked the images that came up.)

  • Laura M. says:

    He's called Stickman or Stikman; here's a Flickr pool.

  • kategm says:

    They're all over West Philly too, around the Penn and Drexel campuses. I always wondered what the little stickmen were up to.

  • Laura M. says:

    Oh, and here's a Washington Post article about these!

  • Sarah says:

    I don't know what they are, but there is a Flickr group:

  • Kate says:

    There is on on the street in the intersection of 33rd Street and 10th Avenue in NYC. I pass it by when I go to grab McDonald's for lunch. (Don't judge me!) I have often wondered what it was . . .

  • monstrosity says:

    He is all over the streets of Toronto, too, at least in my neighbourhood. I've been noticing and enjoying him and wondering what he's about. I am glad he's showing up in other cities as well!

  • Jen M. says:

    There is a stikman at the intersection of 15th and Market in Philadelphia. I see the Toynbee ones around the city as well.

  • Kelly Anne says:

    So THAT'S what those tiles are! We have one that I pass every day on my way to work – on a street in the suburban edge of Philadelphia.

    I've never seen stikman, though.

  • Jeanne says:

    There's a few of these around Boston too, I just figured it was some weird tagging done by some over-zealous art students (of which there are plenty around here.)

  • CJB says:

    Yup, I've seen him in Harvard Square! In a crosswalk. They painted over him. Bummer.

  • Liz says:

    I'm so glad I finally have my answer (I'm the original questioner)! Now that I know they are in so many places, I'm going to have to keep an eye out for more.

    I knew the members of the Nation would come through!

  • honoria says:

    I've seen it too!
    Somewhere randomely in NYC's East Village.
    (Sorry no more specific helps.)

  • Bev says:


    street artist is Stikman or Stickman
    also in Brooklyn and Chicago

    i can't find a meaning in anything i can find on line, but i found an address my computer can't get to (ftp, i think)

    so many in DC seem to pointing at govt locations -of course, almost every building in dc is a govt location. And Philly is the place of the Declaration of independence.

  • Amalthea says:

    Chiming in to say that there used to be one of these in the crosswalk at Hollywood and Highland in LA. Haven't walked that way in a while, but I used to see him regularly, and always wondered where it came from. Maybe the artist was visiting?

  • Sophie says:

    They are all over the Chicago loop, too, and I love them! I've been asking everyone about him for months, and no one knew anything. I should have known it would eventually end up on TN!

  • dimestore lipstick says:

    I just read your review aloud to my husband, who read Methland a couple of months ago. His response: "Yeah, she pretty much nailed it."

  • Louise says:

    Saw one in Montreal over the weekend – would have had no clue what it was if I hadn't read the Vine on Friday!

  • Katie says:

    Ha! There are two in Cleveland that I know of, on the crosswalks of Euclid & 14th and at 9th as well.

    This little guy gets around!

  • Wait, so do we think that there are copycat artists in other cities, or that this guy is traveling all over the place to do this?

  • Rachel says:

    Saw one today at 83rd and Central Park West. Can't believe I never noticed it before as I walk by there everyday!

  • Shonda says:

    Yay!! I saw him all over Philly and wondered what he was about. Cute!

  • Terri says:

    This comment is pretty belated, and may be tangential… but this little guy reminds me VERY strongly of these Mexican ceremonial paper dolls that were in a collection I cataloged as a grad student working at the Mathers Museum of World Cultures in Bloomington, Indiana. I used a book on ceremonial papermaking as a reference for my cataloging (Traditional Papermaking and Paper Cult Figures of Mexico, by Alan R. & Pamela E. Sandstrom, University of Oklahoma Press, 1986) and while the ones they show on the book's cover are a lot more elaborate, this guy looks like some of the simpler figures they have in the book. Wonder if they were any influence?

  • maylai says:

    SO late to the party, but I just had to chime in. I go to UC Berkeley and this little guy is all over campus and the surrouding streets. I just stepped on him today. Seems he is a bi-coastal bot!

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