Ben Wilson’s Chewing Gum Art

It takes Ben Wilson an average of about three hours to create each piece of gum art. If you’re lucky you may even spot him lying on the concrete with his blowtorch and acrylic paints tackling the latest gob of abandoned chewing gum with an intricately detailed mini-masterpiece. Adds a new dimension to appreciating the little things… Ben’s been at it for eight years.

Look down and look carefully. You may be lucky enough to spot one! If you thought Pablo Delgado‘s work was easy to spot, here’s a good treasure hunt challenge for you. Ben’s work is found mainly around North London, especially Muswell Hill and Barnet. Apparently there’s one on Argyle Street W1 where the road bends. There are now a bunch near East India on the DLR where last weekend’s photo exhibition of Ben’s past work was supplemented by a new trail of his gum art.

Here are some photos of the exhibition images followed by a few of my own findings in East India along the way.

Outside, a small trail…lens cap so you can judge the size.

As you’ve probably guessed from these, Ben often works to requests so a lot of them are quite personal.

Have you found any of Ben’s chewing gum art over the past eight years?

If you could have a personally designed piece, what would it look like? Any particular flavour?


  1. follow-up post on Ben’s work here with a short video 
  2. An LLO interview with Ben, part 1 (July 2013)
  3. An LLO interview with Ben, part 2 (July 2013)
  4. A post about Ben designing a customized piece of chewing gum art for LLO (July 2013)

251 comments on “Ben Wilson’s Chewing Gum Art

  1. I have to say this really made me smile (: Gum art? What a perfect example of somebody taking something unpleasant, some wasteful and unsightly output of society, and using human creativity and skill to make it beautiful. The little pictures are so cute and I bet they’re not easy to do. Whenever I’m next in London I’l look out for these. Thanks for sharing!

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  3. Ok, this made me smile. And as an artist, I’m totally amazed at making pictures that small with so much detail and on GUM! Wow! But I agree with Mikalee.. yuck. I think I’d at least chew the gum myself, spit it on the ground and then start creating a masterpiece.

    • He may occasionally work with his own gum. I know sometimes he places it on tinfoil so it’s easier to transport, in which case, I would assume it’s probably his own. I’m hoping to possibly be able to meet him one of these days, in which case, I will ask!

  4. I wasn’t so sure about gum art but that’s actually very cool. I haven’t been to London in years, but next time I go, I’ll be sure to look down as well as up! Thanks and congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  5. Really good article highlighting Ben Wilson’s art, which is carried out in one of the more random mediums & yet is nonetheless detailed & extremely effective. When I lived in Muswell Hill it was always fun to spot a new piece, as well as see tourists & art snappers hunched down on the ground taking photos.

  6. I have some questions…
    -How permanent are these creations?
    -Does Ben ever catch some flack for this?
    -Who is Jess?
    -Do people try to rip these up and collect them?

    “Well, there are some things you should know. First off, you see gum on the street, leave it there. It’s not free candy.” -Santa Claus to Buddy the Elf in the movie Elf.

    • I’m hoping to interview Ben at some point in the near future, so I shall ask! Permanence probably depends on location. I imagine there are some from quite a long time ago that are hanging on, others probably get ruined quite quickly from people stepping on them or perhaps even taking them home. Hm. Ben’s had many run in with the police, but usually they are pretty cool with it once they figure out what he’s doing. Plus, he’s not exactly doing anything wrong. Littering with gum is the crime. He’s just making it prettier. Jess is probably one of the people he did a special request for at some point. I’m sure people do try to collect them. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least. Hopefully they have gloves and a good scraper…

  7. Living in the Barnet area myself, I’ve seen these amazing little pieces but for the moment I haven’t done so in a while!

    It’s a great way to brighten up North London and use something that is completely unexpected to make a modern piece of art on the pavements ^^ I only met the guy once quite a few years ago. Amazing stuff and wonderfully intricate.

  8. Great find! When you think you saw everything about art, this comes along! Chewing gum seems so irrelevant, but when seeing in eyes of artists, you have art! Amazing pics, thanks for sharing!

  9. that is just about the coolest expression of street art I’ve ever seen. I hate it went people spit their gum out of the sidewalk but I love that someone turned it into something great!

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  11. Reblogged this on hannahroseb and commented:
    I just found this the most amazing idea ever. It really made me want to jump on the train and go hunting for one myself.. can’t believe I have never seen one of these before, will have to keep an eye out from now on!

  12. Amazing what a person can turn into something that constitutes ‘art’. A very talented and creative individual. Thanks for sharing and congratulations on being FP’d.

  13. I was in Piccadilly today and checked to see if the painting on the railings that I mentioned earlier is still there, It isn’t – the railings have now been removed – but I did discover three more paintings on the pavement, all next to the Royal Academy. They can be seen, along with their exact locations, in this video:

    So, if you’re visiting the Hockney exhibition, you can impress anyone who is accompanying you by pointing out these three genuine original Ben Wilson Gum paintings.

  14. Brilliant painting. You’re very courageous to get so close. Come and visit the college at the end of our street. Roughly one splat of gum per 6″ square. Enough to keep you painting for ever and ever:-)

  15. That is the coolest thing ever! Brilliant idea turning something gross into something beautiful! I wish this guy could do some work on NYC sidewalks…

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  17. This is amazing! He has a never ending array of places to work…im chewinggum fanatic so im most likely guilty of throwing my gum on the floor every once in a while…maybe it will become a work of art one day! Great post!

  18. Ha, when I first read the title of this post, I was a bit disgusted and also a bit curious. However, after checking out the pictures and reading a bit, I find myself absolutely amazed. Who would have thought chewing gum could be art? Great post!

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  20. Thankyou for all of your comments, which I will pass onto Ben as he does
    not ‘do online.’ This gum art trail is the first in a series of artist residencies funded by Trinity Buoy Wharf Trust where artists look at environmental issues use waste products and eco themes specific to the site to create new work. As a curator I have worked with Ben on a number of projects, two of which can be seen here –

    – those pieces are still in Fitzrovia, London W1 and one was done for the community arts group that I run, founded in 2007 to document the demolition of a 250 year old public hospital, The Middlesex.,0_

    – if visiting the area use the tower as a beacon to locate Ben’s gum work on Maple Street, Charlotte St, Mortimer/Wells St, Tottenham St etc

    The gum art is meant to be permanent and is impossible to remove from the pavement without damaging it – people do try but Ben returns to
    previous pieces and repairs missing corners. Generally they are pretty
    hard wearing.

  21. Truly cool. Couldn’t find that Korean island he is talking about on nr 6 .. I know people that could provide a lot of raw material for this

  22. This is so creative….those who love sticking gums under desks and chairs should seriously consider putting some efforts and creativity into their messy job.

  23. Is this really art from chewing gum? For example, Ben would be walking down a London street and come across gum, stop, bend down and create art?

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  25. Recently read about this, great idea and very impressive – though if you’re into collecting ‘free’ street art, a trifle difficult to obtain – guess you could life the pavement up!

    Banksy, eat your heart out!

  26. Ewww! I hope people realize what it actually before touching it, lol. But let me get this straight: you’re brilliant and extremely talented! Who in the world would ever thought to draw on a chewing gum?? (Obviously you, lol.) This is unique!

  27. This is so creative. Those guys who love sticking gums under desks and seats should seriously consider at least put some efforts and creativity into their messy work.

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  29. i wonder who chewed all these chewing gums….???/ or are they fresh….? well creativity has no ends people can do things with chewing gums after already using rices, beans, jelly … what next?

  30. This is really interesting work, the delicacy of it, the precision, the tininess, and particularly the concept. Me, I am into exploring ‘edges’ and (from some of the comments) the chewing gum thing seems to push at people in that way – which is great. I relate to it. It doesn’t bother me at all. If you fancy taking a peep at another devalued, neglected space in which work is made, maybe you might check me out (me-moment – ooo, another edge). I’m a Holloway, London cookie. I’m anonymous. And a bit taboo.

  31. He should come to Dublin where there is enough chewing gum on the streets to keep him and all his future generations busy foverer! Great post.

  32. Peoples opinion think its ‘cool’ but is it. it may make the place look brighter but its still disgusting and a waste of money in a few ways.

    Someone who has hardly any money re-decorates there house, new carpet and then they come back home one day not realizing to chewing gum on there shoe and stepping it in to the carpet, there new expensive carpet that they cant afford to buy new things.

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  43. wonderful blog, fantastic art.

    I came across this blog doing a Google search on Ben Wilson, “the chewing gum man” . Is there a way, if one comes to London, of getting to know where he is working?
    Roma, Italia

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  50. Looking for the elephant Ben did on Millenium bridge yesterday but can’t find it!!! Have retraced all our steps

  51. Hi,
    We have discover Ben´s work and we were imperesed with it!!!. It´s soo original, diferent and exciting!

    We work for an Spanish magazine about trendes, and always original and diferent topics. This week we are traveling to London and it will be great for us have the posibility to chat and meet Ben.

    Any one know if it is possible to contact ben by e-mail?

    Thanks in advance


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