Aesthetics Wiki

Mission School is an art movement that started in the early-mid 1990s, centering around San Francisco's Mission District. It would go on to become a mainstream aesthetic in popular culture from the late 1990s to mid-2000s, succeeding the Global Village Coffeehouse aesthetic.


This aesthetic is named for the Mission District located in San Francisco, California where a collection of artists, many being graduates from the San Francisco Art Institute, lived. These artists started the style in the early 1990s by creating graffiti and murals around the district, influenced by neo-expressionist artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat, and also having overlap with Los Angeles's Lowbrow/Pop Surrealism movement. Mission School grew in popularity continuing into the mid-1990s, bursting on the pop culture scene with the release of OK Soda in 1993.

Mission School peaked in mainstream popularity from the late 1990s to mid-2000s, somewhat replacing Global Village Coffeehouse as the preferred marketing look for industries such as Starbucks (though traces of GVC design continued into the 2000s). Mission School's influence could also be seen in television of the time, such as Mission Hill, Clone High, and A Kitty Bobo Show.


Mission School is noted for its muted colors, faux-weathered textures, and influence from the UPA/midcentury revival that was popular at the time (i.e. Mission Hill). Common mediums include collages, graffiti, and murals. This aesthetics has been described as difficult to pin down, with examples often being disparate in style. Some artists categorized under "Mission School" have rejected the label.