The thread of this simple essay will centre on the controversy surrounding “graffiti art”—is it art or simply vandalism. The paper will explore the true meaning of graffiti art, characteristics of common graffiti which includes a background history of its evolution in society, the different motives of artists who uses graffiti art, the conclusive facts that stem from my own point of view, and what the future holds for the graffitist. Overall, this paper will explore the culture of graffiti—is it art or vandalism. What image comes into mind when one hears the word, “graffiti? From Wikipedia, “Graffiti” is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Graffiti).
It is simply decoration or set of symbols inscribed on walls or any surface and is intended as a form of expression and a way of communicating feelings and meaning in the world by the artist. Often, it is regarded as an unsightly sight that causes damage and unwanted vandalism. Two distinct categories identify graffiti; “Popular Graffiti” and “Community-based graffiti. ” Though different in nature, they both share the same principle of exhibiting in a public space. http://www. graffiti. org/faq/graffiti-is-part-of-us. html) * Popular Graffiti is the type of graffiti encountered on a daily basis; on bathroom walls, public transport seats, billboards, street signs, on trees, on school desks, sidewalks, public transports’ waiting sheds, telephone booths, or anywhere else space is visible and can be scribbled. Witty and rude commentaries comprise most of these graffiti—the “fuck you’s,” the love proclamations, “so-and-so’s were here,” “eat me’s,” etc. * Community Based Graffiti is a category for hip-hop graffiti and the gang graffiti.
It is a visual product of the hip-hop culture, an offbeat youth culture emerging in society, and thus is ingrained in music, clothes, dialect, and messages stemming from roots of the hip-hop movement and into the fire of the social disapproval (http://www. graffiti. org/faq/graffiti). This type of graffiti uses spray can art, tag art, and aerosol art. They line building sides, subway station walls, subway trains, and billboards. Devon D. Brewer, a sociologist who has studied graffiti extensively, claims that “there are four major values in hip hop graffiti: fame, artistic expression, power, and rebellion. (http://www. graffiti. org/faq/graffiti-is-part-of-us. html). The graffiti in its form is an expression of showing endless social and political problems communicated to the public. What truly motivate people to write on walls and for the entire whole world to see? Come to think of it, why not just grab a pen and paper to express them? Several theories have been explored and debated to explain these sides of the graffitist: * Some use graffiti as a form of communication to gain public recognition. Graffitist takes pride in their work with their names and tags included in the designs.
They take pleasure in the artistic, creative, and physical expression of their geniuses. And they want the world at their attention. * Others, as from the short history above, express their emotions, feelings, and frustrations with their work and will let the world see of that discontentment. It is an expression of criticism, protest, rejection, or agreement of an ideology. * Some ways, graffiti is a documentation of a group membership or “gangs” as prevalent in the streets of New York City in the early 70’s. It is an expression of marking our territories. * Some will do it out of boredom and will just conform to the norm of the majority. Sometimes people may not even have a reason. They will do it just to see that they can get away with doing something illegal as unwanted vandalism. Pleasure is derived from conscious illegal behaviour. * And lastly, from various researches I have done, it seems that people do it to show their art because not everyone can get into galleries. It is in a way a form of competition between artists who struggle to have that formal and expensive training as compared to artists who has no formal training whatsoever. With the various factors and aspects presented, is “graffiti” is still considered as a sort of vandalism.
Though many consider graffiti to be a form of art and free expression, in the society it defies property laws and is seen as hate propaganda. With these in thought, graffiti is actually a serious criminal act and have nothing to do with freedom of expression or art. Misguided attitudes towards this form of art are by way of defiling public territory. In a way, it is disrespect to the public. The following points will show the further negative effects of graffiti on the environment and the community: * Graffiti makes the surrounding environment increasingly dirty and completely unattractive.
Costs are to the building owners and taxpayers to remove graffiti. * Fumes form the spray cans pollute the environment. * Graffiti is also unsafe for those who undertake it. Often putting themselves in dangerous positions where harm and even death has occurred. (http://www. graffitihurts. com. au/what. php) * Creates social discord between graffitist and community. * Graffiti tagging is a crime that continues to grow within the United States. The words and symbols defacing property often relay messages of gang related activities, drug activity and hatred.
Not only are the symbols and signs scribbled across property and surfaces not appealing, but they’re costly. Each year, the U. S. spends more than $8 billion cleaning up graffiti. (http://www. sanantonio. gov/news/NewsReleases/) In conclusion, with all the facts and data presented, graffiti is seen as vandalism and an illegal use of public space. Graffiti is largely illegal. Arguments that graffiti is a form of art and free expression of one’s creative genius is greatly misplaced with the ill effects it can have on the community and the environment.
This report does not discriminate against graffiti, though the facts conform more to the negative side of it being the vandalism issue. Raising public awareness that expressing creative genius has its right place and time is only the start. Helping adolescents and young adults shape their artistic talent into marketable trade will provide the necessary means to solidify the identities of these budding artists and keep them off the streets. And, thus, a new “face” of graffiti will emerge that is fitting and artistic in the true sense of the word.