Street art, it seems, is no longer just the creation hooded misfits with spray cans in the dead of night. Pulled into the consciousness of the general public by many new-age artists, perhaps most notoriously by Banksy, street art is evolving before our very eyes.

It may be possible that you've unknowingly seen one of his works on the side of a wall, but French artist known simply as JR, has begun changing perceptions on what street art is capable of. In an interview with Forbes, the self-proclaimed "photograffeur" (a mixture of photographer and graffiti artist) explains why big cities allow his artistry to fully come to life, and how he tries to remain authentic within his work.

"I love connecting with the architecture of the city instead of trying to do the largest photo. My work belongs to everyone in that I don't own public property. Once I paste something up, the work is subject to its environment," says JR. "But my public work gives birth to books that find themselves in libraries and stores and gallery works that end up in museums and in the hands of collectors. I don't collaborate with brands or companies in order to maintain creative control over my work. I sell gallery pieces to fund future projects. It's the purest model I've found so far."

In terms of style, JR sets out to plaster larger-than-life posters on fences, walls, and practically any part of a building that can be seen by passersby. The prints come from photos taken by himself; his style is without flair or pretentiousness, simply aiming to depict the true inhabitants of each city and their struggles. His work has taken him to cities across the world, including Paris, New York and Bangladesh, among others. Often, but not always, JR's public exhibits attempt to highlight general awareness of poverty, oppression and violence, with such projects titled Women Are Heroes, Dignity in Industry, and Esperanza (Spanish for "Hope").

"At first, I was drawn to places by what I heard in the media. Getting to know a population and working with them to paste their portraits up big changes the way you see yourself and has helped the locals regain ownership of their identity," JR explains. "The media often distorts what is actually going on in remote locations of the world. I go to learn firsthand and help communities regain control of their reputations."

Art trends often come and go, but with his work, the French artist is capturing what can solely remain timeless and pure: portraits. Similarly with longstanding art photography retailers Lumas, JR is bringing portraiture to the fore and creating art that is accessible to all, particularly those who might not find themselves in museums and galleries.

"My work is about the people - a specific population. Pre-production for each major project takes the most time: What is the history of the people? What is the significance of this city in conjunction with the people?" JR describes. "I have to make sure that the people are even interested in participating in my work because once we have finished pasting, the work belongs to that society. I make several visits to the place before we start pasting. My work is firstly about the subject's cultural past and present. Secondly, it's about the reactions it provokes among the public."

So the next time you take walk down the street, keep your eyes open for street art in general, not just JRs, as this is often the art that represents the truest depiction of your city.