Stephen Powers (American, b. May 25, 1968) was raised in Philadelphia, where he graduated from the University of the Arts before relocating to New York City in 1995. Powers's alias, ESPO (Exterior Surface Painting Outreach), won him notoriety not only in the Graffiti world, but also helped establish him in the Contemporary Art world. After establishing himself as a publisher for On the Go Magazine and the author of several books (The Art of Getting Over, First and Fifteenth, and Studio Gangster), Powers began showing work in notable galleries such as New York City's Deitch Projects.
In 2005, he organized the Dreamland Artist's Club, a project that allowed professional artists to help Coney Island vendors by repainting their signs. Soon after, Powers was the recipient of the Fulbright Prize and spent six months working in Ireland, creating public artwork with the help of local teenagers from troubled areas in Dublin and Belfast. In 2008, Powers returned to Coney Island, where he installed the Coney Island Waterboarding Thrill Ride. In the summer of 2009, Powers embarked on his Love Letter project.
Many responses to Powers's artwork have been featured in publications such as The New York Times, Juxtapoz, and Artforum. His work has recently been the subject of solo shows at Joshua Liner Gallery, in New York, NY (2012), V1 Gallery, in Copenhagen, Denmark (2011), White Walls Gallery, in San Francisco, CA (2009), Alice Gallery, in Brussels, Belgium (2009), Patricia Armocida Gallery, in Milan, Italy (2008), and Deitch Projects, in New York, NY (2004).