Cult Graffiti Artist Swaps a Life on the Streets for Starry Client List

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Byline: Alistair Foster Showbusiness Correspondent

ONLY 18 months ago, he was homeless and struggling to make ends meet on the streets of London.

Now graffiti artist Stik's work, featuring distinctive stick figures, sells for thousands and hangs in the homes of Sir Elton John, Bono, Brian May, Tinie Tempah and the Duke of Kent.

One of the capital's most influential street artists, he told today how he faced death when living rough but turned his life around by becoming a cult figure in the art world.

His stick characters first began appearing in Hackney's streets five years ago. Now an original canvas will sell for thousands.

Fiercely private about his identity -- like fellow graffiti artist Banksy -- he was living in a St Mungo's hostel for the homeless last year as he prepared for his first gallery show. His biggest exhibition will take place at Imitate Modern in Marylebone this month. He said: "For a long time it was very difficult for me to nail down a home. You fall through the cracks and it's tough to get back up. I did quite a few jobs. I was a bike mechanic and a street sweeper.

"St Mungo's was a very important time for me. Up until then I had been sleeping in abandoned buildings, in friends' houses or sofa surfing.

"Things got really bad and I resorted to desperate measures to make ends meet. …