Mention the word graffiti and what typically comes to mind is something unpleasant and distasteful like indecent language scribbled on a wall of a store or crude pictures. Most graffiti is characterized as vandalism on the property that does not belong to the culprit. Graffiti also displays negative graphics that promote some type of vulgar messages such as violence, sex, drugs, gangs, and racism. On the other hand, when the terms “street” and “art” come together, a blast of colorful creations upon blank slates on the street comes to mind. Although street art is technically considered graffiti, it is a type of graffiti with positive qualities, but certain figures in society find street art to be, in some way, disruptive. City officials say street art to be a “public nuisance that degrades the quality of life in neighborhoods and communities across the city” (Costello). The amount of street art creates an image about the city that the city officials believe is negative and displeasing. Finally, critics believe as well as damaging property, street art can encourage gangs to continue with their tagging methods, thus upholding gang-related activity.
After the “Art in the Streets” exhibit in Los Angeles, “an apparent increase in vandalism in the local area” created controversial speculation (Greiner). The showcasing of street art and graffiti sent out a message to other artists that basically stated the approval of street art and graffiti. However, in recent years, street art remains a valuable form of art due to morphing into a cultural trait. Tracing the roots of the street art that exists today, people have been leaving their marks on walls for centuries (“Tracing the Roots…”). Many of the pieces have been recovered, valued, and treasured, serving to carry on a message left behind. Culture has altered and changed over the years, and now, society has what is street art today, stemming from art created years ago. The rise of the art movement did not come about until the 1980s and gave way to the 1990s.
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There is no use denying the fact that art has always been an integral part of human society. It has appeared as primitive paintings on the rocks, however, even these first attempts already performed their main function and had their own purpose. They helped a person to express himself/herself, show his/her feelings and emotions and convey them to the next generations. Since that time art has always Visual Arts served humanity and showed various stages of its development. Going along with society, art reflected problems and feelings peculiar to people who lived at a certain period of time. Moreover, the way, in which these feelings were expressed, and the forms, which art obtained, also characterized it greatly. Statues of antiquity and great canvas of the New Age and many other works appeared due to the set of reasons which made this very kind of art the main characteristic of the epoch. Resting on these facts, it is possible to say that the modern age also has its main kind of art or the way to express feelings which could be taken as its main characteristics. That is why such phenomena as graffiti can pretend to be it.
It should be said that this issue is not new. Generally speaking, graffiti is a sort of painting that is scratched or sprayed on a wall or other surface or area in a place where people could see it.1 With this in mind, it is possible to say that those primitive paintings on the rocks, mentioned previously, could also be taken as graffiti. However, the difference is that nowadays it is not the only kind of art, though it is the conscious choice of a person, who wants to express his/her feelings or show his/her vision of a certain problem. There are many factors that influence the spread of popularity of this sort of art. It should be said that its blistering growth started in the second half of the 20th century and had not stopped yet. It is possible to assume that the main reason for this growth was the increase of self-awareness of people. Having passed through two World Wars, they understood that they should take an active part in social life in order to influence the world. That is why this kind of art was chosen as the main remedy.
It should be said that nowadays, graffiti could be seen everywhere, starting from some gateway and ending with a central square of a city5. Moreover, the development of technologies makes the process no so complicated as it was several decades ago. People used coal, chalk, or some paintings in order to draw a picture somewhere on the wall. Thus, nowadays aerosol paintings help artists very much and make the process not so complicated. Very often, it is the question of several hours or even minutes. It should also be said that the place, where a picture is drawn, means a lot and is chosen not accidentally, especially if some provoking issue is touched. Artists want people to see their message and, that is why choose very unexpected places. It is also necessary to admit that graffiti is usually associated with the youth. It is taken as their way to express themselves and challenge the world. According to statistics, almost 98% of young people understand and appreciate this sort of art while this percentage is much lower among grownups.
That is why blistering development of the issue of graffiti can be taken as evidence of the concern of the youth about society and their future. Very often, being rebellious7 in their hearts, young people are not able to use traditional ways to express their emotions and choose graffiti, which is still taken as rather challenging. However, not everyone accepts this idea, underlining the fact that graffiti is hardly a sort of art, it is just paintings that spoil the image of a city. Under these conditions, it becomes obvious, that the necessity of clear determination of the issue of graffiti and its nature is vital. There are still two different approaches to it. The first one takes graffiti as modern street art and all people who draw it could be taken as artists. Thus, the second one does not appreciate such an unusual approach to self-expression, underlying the fact that very often the message of these pictures could be rather provoking while they are drawn in public places where everyone could see them.
Besides, it is possible to say that the second approach could be taken as an old fashioned now. Modern art provides a wide range of remedies and ways for people to express themselves and graffiti is not the most provoking one. That is why, it is possible to say that due to its extent, popularity, and influence on society, this phenomenon could be taken as the main characteristic of the modern age. Nevertheless, according to Cedar Lewisohn, street art has become a certain sort of art many years ago, and now it should be judged under the same standards which people use while looking at the picture somewhere at the museum8. There are several main points that could be obtained from this statement. First of all, it becomes obvious that graffiti becomes recognized by modern painters and people who devote their lives to art. However, the main idea is that as any kind of art, graffiti and all other kinds of this movement should also contribute to the development of society, humanity, ideals of beauty, and the issue of art itself. Under these conditions, the question of the quality of an artwork becomes especially vital.
It is obvious, that one of the main characteristics of art is the forethought of the work, images, and messages which it conveys. Thus, no one will say that the scrawl on the wall, painted spontaneously with the help of aerosol in a matter of seconds, without any consideration which precedes this process, could have a great number of ideas and convey some message. With this in mind, a clear differentiation between real street art and acts of vandalism should be obtained9. The thing is that bad art has a pernicious influence on the development of graffiti. It turns people against street art in general as it really destroys the image of a city or place where it is drawn. That is why, it is possible to say that society should continue its struggle against vandalism because it has nothing in common with real street art. Besides, nowadays, there is a tendency to use the narrower and, at the same time, more meaningful term street art than graffiti. Describing a drawing on the wall as a part of modern street art, a person already means that it has all traits which are peculiar to real artwork.
These are the quality, meaningfulness, topicality, inspiration, and talent of the master who created it. However, while saying graffiti a person could mean either the masterpiece of street art and some bad painting of a vandal who just tries to leave the sign of his/her existence on this wall10. Moreover, nowadays, street art painters also recognize this fact try to promote a serious and defendant approach to graffiti, guaranteeing its development and growth, at the same time trying to protect from careless painters. With this in mind, it is possible to agree with Lewisohns’s assumption that bad art adds nothing to the original image, and street art is developed enough to be analyzed with the help of the main concepts of art criticism. Nevertheless, it is obvious that like all kinds of art, nowadays street art reflects peculiarities of the modern lifestyle and society, at the same time contributing to the further development of art and its evolution. It has always followed society and young people, who are taken as the main force of the modern era, also use art in order to make humanity think about some problems which are money, relations, consumer attitude towards people, wars and a great number of other topical issues.
They chose the most available and efficient way as street art is free for everyone and people could see various artworks while going on their purposes and think about the things described there13. Having evolved, art has obtained some new images with the help of graffiti and artists who devote their lives to it. Thus, speaking about the great influence of street art on people, it is impossible not to analyze one of the works of this sort. Nowadays, more and more street artists devote their works to various social issues. Besides, the works of Blu seem different from other artworks. Blu draws mainly in Europe and touches various political issues. One of the most breathtaking works of Blu is the painting War. It describes soldiers with the weapon, who fight with someone. This picture appeared at the time, while tension between various states is extremely high. Worlds political crisis and the threat of terrorism lead to the appearance of a great number of military conflicts all over the world.
That is why armed people could be taken as the symbol of the modern age. However, it is just the first layer of the artwork. A viewer can see that these soldiers are just marionettes. They are ruled by someone who is not seen in this picture. The author wants people to think about the real motifs of all wars in which we participate. Blu tries to open our eyes and show that people just help someone to satisfy some needs. We cannot see who rules these soldiers, thus it is for people to guess. Moreover, dollar and euro signs on their chevrons show the real motif of the war and of the aggression of these soldiers. They are paid to kill. Blu wants people to think about this horrible fact. Resting on these facts, it is possible to say that this very painting can be taken as the manifestation of real art and, that is why art analysis could be used here. First of all, it is painted very accurately and with great talent. One could see that much time is devoted to the process.
The artist had to create the concept and idea, moreover, it is obvious, that Blu thought through all symbols which are depicted and tried to show them clearly. Taking into account the great size of the work, it is possible to say that the author also had to devote much time to planning and choosing the way how to draw it. That is why Blu can be taken as a good artist who creates real masterpieces of street art. Yet, analyzing this very picture, it is possible to state the fact that a person forgets that it is drawn somewhere on the wall in the street. People start recognizing it as an artwork that does not differ from pictures that are placed somewhere in the Louvre or other museums.
That is why all these facts could be taken as great evidence of the influential character of street art and its great contribution to the development of modern art in general. With this in mind, taking into account the main information connected with the issue of street art, it is possible to make a certain conclusion. First of all, it should be said that nowadays, it has really turned into a kind of art which helps people to express their feelings and attitudes towards certain things. However, like in any art, the question of quality is vital for it. Only good paintings are able to contribute to the development of the image of street art.
“Imagine a city where graffiti wasn’t illegal, a city where everybody drew whatever they liked. Where every street was awash with a million colors and little phrases. Where standing at a bus stop was never boring. A city that felt like a party where everyone was invited, not just the estate agents and barons of big business. Imagine a city like that and stop leaning against the wall – it’s wet. ” (Banksy 85) Graffiti is a global form of expression that is untamed but uses similar methods like advertisements, yet is illegal in most cities. Street art is a way of spreading your name or message, just like a company puts up billboards to get their product to their demographics. Graffiti and Street art in general are just terms for the urban art form of scribing or painting on public space with a message or name. The culture of graffiti is very hard to control since all of the tools needed are in the average person’s home already. Street-Art should be legalized because it is less destructive than advertisements and they are displayed in the same methods.
Tagging is the first step in becoming a graffiti writer, It is an artist’s baby steps into the urban art form known as graffiti. A tag in graffiti is an artist’s signature. It represents who you are, where you’re from, and why you write. As the graffiti writer “Ears not” said, “Tagging is like a timeline” you can follow the tags and see where the person has been that day just by the color of their ink (‘Infamy’) “The term ‘graffiti’ derives from the greek graphene which means to write” The current meaning of graffiti came to be because that is what the drawings and “marks found on ancient Roman architecture”(Phillips Par 1). Writers for the majority will not sign their real names; they instead use nicknames, codes, or symbols within complicated lettering systems” (Phillips Par 4). Graffiti usually gets a bad reputation because people see the beautiful murals and wonder why the same artists create ugly scrawl. Graffiti comes in many forms and people really need to understand that.
Since there aren’t any two writers at the same level and all writers are at different steps in the art form. You cannot simply pick up a paint can and created perfect typography and detailed illustrations, no matter what your level of art is in any medium. The grimy, dirty, dripping tag signature comes from the same hands as the enormous multicolored murals” (Gastman 127). Many people say why do graffiti artists tag when they can just do murals. “Some people want to make the world a better place. I just want to make the world a better-looking place. If you don’t like it, you can paint over it! ” (Banksy par 15), in this quote the London street-artist Banksy is stating that he doesn’t care if you paint over or buff his work since he is just going to keep doing it. So the government is just wasting paint and money.
Street Art is a form of graffiti that uses the same way of portraying the artist’s work but with different tools and mediums. One of the most common means of getting street-art up is with the use of stencils. Where the artist will take cardboard or plastic and make a cutout into the material, usually displaying an icon or figure. Another common method of street-art is wheat pasting which where you create a poster sketched or printed on larger paper and then create glue-like substance-using cornstarch and some form of epoxy. Some street-artists and graffiti artists alike will “sticker-bomb” which is where they either print stickers with a message or use shipping labels with a hand-drawn character or tag and they will put them on walls, signs, windows, etc. Since it is a much quicker way than using a marker or a can of spray paint where you might get caught in the act if you are not very quick or in a rather crowded place. Graffiti is a cultural phenomenon that cannot be controlled. Every culture that currently exists or has existed has had its own form of graffiti.
Modern graffiti is thought to have originated during the Greek empire with political ideas and criticism that people would scribe onto the walls since it would be a definite way that the government would see it. Graffiti cannot be pure vandalism because it can be traced to almost every known society. Also, graffiti writers cannot be classified as a single type of person, people who write come from every background. “Graffiti is a cross-cultural phenomenon common to every literate society. Within the variable contexts of their production, graffiti personalize de-personalized space, construct landscapes of identity, make public space into private space, and act as promoters of ethnic unity as well as diversity. Graffiti can be understood as concrete manifestations of personal and communal ideologies that are visually striking, insistent, and provocative; as such, they are worthy of the continued attention of art historians, social scientists, and policymakers alike. ” (Phillips 9) Graffiti is going to occur whether it’s legal or not.
If the government legalized graffiti in public space, the overall crime rate would go down because it would not be added into the statistic of crimes that occurred and governments would not have to pay people to buff out the graffiti. Advertisers capitalized on graffiti strategies. Strategies started to flourish in the early 1980s in New York where innovative writers such as “Cornbread” would do graffiti on subways and later busses. “You owe the companies nothing. You especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs. ” (Banksy 160) As said by Claw “Im making my stamp and I want it everywhere… ” (‘Infamy’) this is exactly what companies are saying when they purchase advertisement space. Advertising and graffiti function on a phenomenological element to arouse the viewer’s curiosity. They rely on the sheer amount of coverage and penetration, just as brands do to grow.
If you look into a crowd of people on almost every person you see you can recognize the company that created their clothing. They rely on the quality of the delivery to embed themselves into the viewer’s perception. “Brandalism; Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It’s yours to take, rearrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head” (Banksy 160). Society has an impact on artists. In a popular culture where advertising is seen thousands of times a day, it evokes a desire in people to make their mark on this world. The empty promises of ads get flipped upside down when a writer realizes they possessed his or her own ‘brand’. The effect of advertising on young children may have been the catalyst for this global art movement. “The people who run the cities” do not recognize graffiti because they believe nothing has the right to exist unless it makes revenue. But if you just value capital then your belief is insignificant (Banksy 7). 1-year-old Coda Explains, “Basically when I look around, I see us living in a modern-day Babylon, full of temptation, sin, distraction, corruption, injustice, and misguided fools being mentally enslaved.
It seems to be the only way to wake people up from this kind of numbness is to destroy what they know: Their business, their places of commerce, and their biggest place of gathering, the cities! Put it on their trains, on the lines they take to work, on their rooftops, on their highways, on anything just to make some people realize that culture isn’t ost and that, at the very least, a small group of kids is fighting to keep it alive” (Tucker 1). Graffiti should be legal because it is less destructive to people than advertisements and they are displayed in very similar methods, yet people are shocked to see it. Graffiti approaching them not in a gallery, but on the streets. One of the main points that I am trying to prove through this paper even though it isn’t mentioned is, why is the government persecuting people trying to create art and shape the way that modern history is unfolding.
The life of the street artist is, by necessity, one of anonymity. In many of the world’s cities, the most noticeable and breathtaking pieces of art aren’t created by world-renowned talents. They are created by the unknown street artist under cover of darkness. We never see them and they are known only by their tagging pseudonyms. Banksy is a British graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. It has been said, Banksy “was born in 1974 and raised in Bristol, England. The son of a photocopier technician, he trained as a butcher but became a graffiti artist. Style Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist in 1990–1994 as one of Bristol’s DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ). He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene. From the start, he used stencils as elements of his freehand pieces, too. By 2000 he had turned to the art of stenciling after realizing how much less time it took to complete a piece.
He claims he changed to stenciling while he was hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry when he noticed the stenciled serial number. Banksy’s stencils feature striking and humorous images occasionally combined with slogans. Subjects often include rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly. Asked about his technique, Banksy said: I use whatever it takes. Sometimes that just means drawing a mustache on a girl’s face on some billboard, sometimes that means sweating for days over an intricate drawing. Efficiency is the key. Stencils are traditionally hand-drawn or printed onto sheets of acetate or card, before being cut out by hand. Because of the secretive nature of Banksy’s work and identity, it is uncertain what techniques he uses to generate the images in his stencils, though it is assumed he uses computers for some images due to the photocopy nature of much of his work.
He mentions in his book, Wall and Piece, that as he was starting to do graffiti, he was always too slow and was either caught or could never finish the art in one sitting. So he devised a series of intricate stencils to minimize time and overlapping of the color. Banksy once characterized graffiti as a form of underclass “revenge”, or guerilla warfare that allows an individual to snatch away power, territory, and glory from a bigger and better-equipped enemy. Banksy sees a social class component to this struggle, remarking “If you don’t own a train company then you go and paint on one instead. ”
Banksy’s work has also shown a desire to mock centralized power, hoping that his work will show the public that although power does exist and works against you, that power is not terribly efficient and it can and should be deceived. Banksy’s works have dealt with an array of political and social themes, including anti-War, anti-capitalism, anti-fascism, anti-imperialism, anti-authoritarianism, anarchism, nihilism, and existentialism. Additionally, the components of the human condition that his works commonly critique are greed, poverty, hypocrisy, boredom, despair, absurdity, and alienation. Although Banksy’s works usually rely on visual imagery and iconography to put forth his message, he has made several politically related comments in his various books.
Example #5 – What is street art and who are the artists that represented it?
Over the last decade, there has been an increasing interest in a transient form of art that is marking urban settings around the world and has developed a thriving culture. Street art is becoming a formless creature embracing art that is found and inspired by the urban environment. Some people consider this kind of art as controversial and offensive, although on the other hand others find it appealing and attractive. By nature, humans are expressive; they have been drawing on walls since the beginning of humanity. Street art is an ancient art form in a more complex society that requires no formal artistic training or schooling and that in itself makes it so globally appealing for any person regardless of their background to express themselves in ultimate freedom. The use of media has evolved but the message has always remained the same which always translates into freedom. Some people consider this very disturbing, while others find it beautiful. Whether it is interpreted as vandalism or public art, it attracts interest around the world.
Street art today and what it has evolved into is part of our pop culture whether people understand it or not. Clothes, shoes, toys, and more are influenced by street art on a daily basis. To some people, this is beautiful as long as is not being seen on their buildings and walls. As soon as they see it on a wall, they consider it as vandalism. This essay explores this long issue by researching the world of street art. Hopefully, by the end of this essay, a general conclusion will be extracted about how people react, feel and think about this way of expression but also what society and the authorities could possibly do about it. The research for this project included an online survey that was answered by ninety-six persons of different ages and nationalities.
Street art is any type of art created outside in public view and is usually connected with social and political meaning. There are many different types of street art such as graffiti, sticker art, stencil, wheat pasting-street poster art, falsification of a street sign, or an advertisement. Toward the end of the 1960s and at the beginning of the 1970s, children started writing their nicknames on walls, mailboxes, and even in tubes and this came to be known as tagging. As hip hop culture spread from America, street art became a worldwide phenomenon growing in the 1980s as the symbolic language of the young population. It was then that street art became legally restricted and a conflict started between artists and the authorities. Even though this divergence arose, street art was widely spreading around the world during this decade and artists were adding more colors, different styles, creating or drawing comic heroes and imaginary faces. In addition, it attracted the attention of the media, thus movies and magazines about street art begun to publish.
Although street art is being used by many people, not all of them do it for the same reasons. There are artists that use street art as a means to express themselves while others use it to communicate or raise awareness for social and political issues. Simply put, people see the empty spaces of the city as a blank canvas and want to be creative with the use of humor while others are more willing to take the risk of creating some sort of illegal art. In some cases, street art is being used as a means of a memorial to a fellow man or a great ‘artist’ that passed away. Through their work, artists aim to communicate with everyday people without the intent to offend or create a conflict but rather to create a connection with the general public through their artwork. There are many ways in which the types of street art can be graded, while some are considered as simple drawings on a wall, others are classified as actual works of art, depending on whether the artist was given permission to create it. The techniques used remain the same but having permission to express it changes the whole meaning since without any permission it is simply considered vandalism.
Vandalism is described as inexcusable destruction of property, showing to have negative effects on its setting. Criminologists have also observed that vandalism has a ”snowball effect” on causing negative effects in its surrounding environment. Dr. George Kelling and Dr. James Q. Wilson have studied the effects of a broken window case, a disorder in an urban setting, and concluded that even one instance of neglect can lead to the possibility of more incidences like that one appear. Furthermore, an increase in actual violent crimes led researchers to the conclusion of a direct link between street violence, vandalism, and the decline of society (Broken window theory) (Art Radar Asia, 2010). Whichever way is referred to as, vandalism or art, this way of expression has been a worldwide phenomenon as well as the artists that represent it. There are hundreds of street artists whose work and projects made this type of art one of the most debated issues in the world of art.
In their own unique way, they have managed to spread this phenomenon all over the world and put themselves on the map just by doing what they like. Using their skills and imagination, they have found a way to express themselves and offer some people the chance to embrace something really beautiful and not to see it as something that others consider vandalism. Nevertheless, these refined artists have attracted the interest of the world. Keith Haring was one of the first street artists and consequently, responsible for the spread of this kind of art. Haring was studying to be a commercial graphic artist but after two semesters in the Ivy School of Professional Art in Pittsburgh, he realized that he only had little to no interest in that, so he dropped out. He kept working and studying on his own, but choosing to move to New York and enroll in the School of Visual Arts, came as an inspiration to work on an alternative outside landscape of creativity.
He was first inspired by an empty black panel that was used for advertising. Haring thought that it was a perfect place to draw on so he went after to buy a box of white chalk from a card shop and he started to do so. The white chalk was perfect on the black paper and that’s why following that, he kept drawing on all of the black spaces that came to his attention. People seemed to show respect for what they saw and surprisingly did not try to mess it up. The subway pictures evolved into a new medium of communication as the images created traveled the world through magazines and television. He was immediately actively involved in the city of New York and the hip hop scene including rap music, break dancing, and graffiti. This kept on going for the following five years showing that it was reaching all kinds of viewers from various social and ethical backgrounds (David Sheff, 1989).
Banksy is another well-known street artist whose work is responsible for the popularity of street art as it is now. Despite the fact that he is from Easton, his artistic home is the streets of London. He began his career as a graffiti writer and later on he progressed to the use of stencils because it was quicker to apply and on effect, it created a harder impact, which has always been essential for his work. In his mind, he cannot accept the fact that this kind of art could work indoors as he likens it to the domestication of an animal- turning a wild creature into a sterile and languid pet. He believes that this is an outdoor art and should remain as it is even though some people get a lot of comfort from being indoors. It is very different to paint in the street having to capture a burst of adrenaline enhanced by the thought of being arrested rather than to do it in a cozy studio while drinking coffee (Ossian Ward, 2010). It seems like for some people the search for inspiration goes beyond their limits.
‘Maybe the people who steal graffiti off walls are on to something – the edge is still there. But those people are funny – they ask me for a letter of authentication saying I painted a certain piece, but that’s basically a signed confession on headed notepaper.’ (Ossian Ward, 2010) C215 is a French artist who started drawing as a teenager in the city of Orleans in France and now he paints portraits worldwide. He has a special technique in which he makes the stencils by hand without the use of a computer. His work can be seen around the world in many cities such as Rome, Barcelona, London, and Berlin. C215 uses stencil because as he says the stencil allows him to combine his two passions, drawing and graffiti. He mostly paints people who experience the life of being in the street such as refugees, tramps, and street kids. The great philosopher Heraclitus said: “No man ever steps in the same river twice”. Similarly, C215 believes that no one can compare every life event and every period to anything else because they are unique (Vincent Morgan, 2009).
Jerome ‘G’ Demuth is a street artist from Paris. ‘G’ is the nickname he uses for his activities in the streets. He was a photographer and now he found a way to show his work in the streets using large-scale technical print like a photo placed on a billboard. Pasting a photo on a billboard was actually the first thing he did nine years ago. He tries to illustrate the way he sees life and society. Through his work, he wants to raise people’s awareness about respect and love for the earth and other humans instead of caring only about money and success. In general, he tries to show them that they could have an alternative way of life. One of his most well-known projects is the installation of swings in many cities and calls them Swing Cities. Another street artist is ‘Ink 187’ or also known as Oiler, coming from Los Angeles, California. The nickname Oiler as he says is due to the fact that he is too slick.
He is a tattoo lover, and that’s why he is called ‘Ink’, ‘187’ is in a memorial for a friend of his. The oiler is a graffiti artist and through his work, expresses his feelings and emotions. After being expelled from the state of California due to graffiti presence, Oiler became a mentor for young artists in North Portland and tries to help them practice their art legally. Putting his past behind him, he hopes for a better life and future. He tries to keep his graffiti on t-shirts and paper hoping to start a career in fashion. He has on his mind that if artists use their talents legally, street art could become profitable. It does not matter where they are from and what techniques they use. The street artist just wants to share their thoughts and beliefs. Others do it for their social concern and others for their own personal satisfaction. Nevertheless, they do not want to offend anyone with their work, rather than to raise their attention towards its prosperity. No matter what happens there will always be a conflict between people concerning street art. Most importantly, there will always be people against this type of art.
Example #6 – How do people and society perceive street art?
Today’s youth uses street art to portray their social and political views. In order to make their mark, artists choose high traffic areas to express themselves in order to spread their messages broadly. The reason is that by displaying a unique artistic creation people cannot miss it as they walk by, thus it serves their cause efficiently. They could easily use a social network to express an idea but unquestionably that is not as effective as street art. Over the recent years, it came to be as a form of communication. Since young people are not as interested in the news, the modern ‘urban’ feel of street art combined with its awareness of political and social changes makes it perfect for almost everyone. Some people even though they enjoy street art, do not agree with it when it expresses political views. They prefer to see something entertaining and humorous instead of a message containing political views.
In some neighborhoods, sometimes gangs use street art in order to mark their territory or their crew’s power and status. They mark their territorial boundaries as a warning to other gangs as well as to the police. Sometimes a gang’s graffiti sign or symbol may also be a memorial to a fellow fallen gang member. Because of the connection between gangs and street art, it has stereotyped the art and influenced society to relate it particularly with street violence and crime. However, the last couple of years, people have been accepting this type of art and the majority enjoys seeing it. They believe that living in a neighborhood where street art is being displayed shows the uniqueness of every place, its identity. Grey bowing buildings are transformed into something alive and admirable. Even when a person sees street art outside his window, it has an effect on his mood. It can create a warmer atmosphere which at the same time can create a feeling of being somewhere different, a better, more desirable place.
On the other hand, some people say that they do not like it in their neighborhood. According to their views, it states a sense of anarchy, violence and moreover destroys the appearance of buildings, parks, and streets. This of course depends on what the artist creates. (see appendix 4). It makes sense when the members of the community get angry when vandals deface their properties, homes, and public spaces making it clear that an effective approach to managing street art should incorporate the removal of unwanted or even offensive wall paintings. Nevertheless, the zero-tolerance policy is self-contradictory. Many young artists experience frustration and disappointment towards the criminalization of their art and as a result, they rebel against the local authorities, perpetuating more illegal creations (Moo, E. Wardle, F. Lyons, S. Heim, J. Wodds Alum, E. 2009).
Paintings expressed on walls are not equivalent to the paintings hung on the walls and this is apparent by how street art is perceived by the general population. The act of taking the street art from the outside of a building and placing it inside of a building completely changes the work from anarchy to artistry and consequently vandalism gains value. There is a substantial increase in people who believe that street art should be displayed in indoor places. Some though may argue that by doing this, the meaning of this particular art changes completely. Nowadays the number of people visiting galleries is decreasing and even less of them have the funds to organize a gallery exhibition. This is one of the reasons why these artists have turned public walls into their canvases in order to express themselves and even evolve their skills, which could not be done on an average piece of canvas. It could be seen as a privilege to the society that so many people are given the opportunity to view such works of art free of charge.
Some people find it as a nice vibrant change after seeing hundreds of generic bland advertisements on a daily basis. As soon as street art crossed over from criminal to commercial, it stopped being an expression and became an industry of its own. Street art has started receiving international approval in the latest years with artists, such as the mysterious Bansky, selling their creations at Sotheby’s for huge amounts of money. Nowadays, prestigious galleries exhibit street art, and collectives have been formed in many cities all over the world. Several books have published the colorful displays of public art which has reached critical mass around the world, even though it is still considered illegal as a form of expression and a street crime (Lonely Planet, 2010). There is a correlation between the artistic approach of the artists and the cities concerns as it helps the cultural programming for attracting the tourists, aids in the institutional communication of social action in poor neighborhoods, and informs about the local economy.
Huge events attracting impressive crowds are developing street art and contribute to the European Capitals of Culture success. More than 100 000 people from Porto, Graz, Brussels, and Copenhagen are drawn to these events as Lille has recorded approximately 600 000. They are mostly happening in the city centers while other areas and rural zones also have a social and spatial integration call on street art. These artists usually work in abandoned districts or problematic places such as former factories, participating in linking territories and developing their projects in areas with little access to cultural events and products (Fitzcarraldo, 2007). An artist can paint the Mona Lisa on the front of a house and even though it can be considered as art by most people, according to the law it’s vandalism.
Thus, reform comes into play and various actions can be taken to help legitimize street art. In order for this to happen, the government would need to cooperate with the general public and create a non-profit organization that works to protect specific public spaces as well as graphic festivals could be organized and designated areas for artists to express themselves could be given. In contrast with the societal views regarding street art, many benefits were raised that are usually ignored. As any kind of art, similarly, street art is an expression of the artists’ feelings and emotions. There are no legal opportunities for these young artists to create, develop and exhibit their work which is clearly and fundamentally a kind of art and not vandalism in action. Society should accept this form of art and protect it before the situation becomes worse. Street artists want to be considered, recognized and respected as ‘artists’ (Rae Ferris, 2008).
Art or vandalism; street art can be considered as both, due to the fact that is done on public property which is more likely to offend anyone out there. However, there is no doubt that these people both influence and express the feelings of many other people in society. This is the reason that there is great centralization in each event they organize and the support they get from all over the world (Bret McNee, 2009). The definition of what is considered as art can be argued to no end but the government cannot define what that is yet, therefore street art requires social acceptance through legitimacy to be accepted as “art”. These street artists do not aspire to change the definition of their artwork but rather question the existing environment around them in their own language. Through their works, they aim to communicate with everyday people about socially relevant issues without any intention to offend or to create a conflict but rather make a connection with the general public through their artwork. People can argue for or against street art over and over again without coming up with a worldwide acceptable decision. There will always be disagreements. That is what makes street art interesting. It cannot be held, but it can be seen everywhere. It cannot be bought but it is often used to sell everything. Art is created to be seen and enjoyed, debated and discussed.
Example #7 – interesting ideas
What are the causes, and effects of street art?
Answer. Street art was originally used as a political statement, it would convey a message that voiced the outrage of a community. Now it’s a bunch of scribbles put on walls by bored dumbass kids wearing sideways hats to drop property value.
Street art vs graffiti debate? Im writing an argumentative essay about graffiti and if it should be considered Street art. I am also linking it to Melbourne in particular and the fact that former Vic Premier John Brumby hated graffiti and referred to its as a “blight on the city.” But now St Kilda council has set aside specific laneways for street artists to use. In the hopes of creating tourism. What’s your viewpoint? For me, I don’t think it’s art and I also don’t think Melbourne Council should protect it and promote it. The whole concept of street art is that it could be there 30 days or 30 years.
Answer. I think that graffiti can be a form of art but it can also deface and devalue buildings so I understand that it cant be legal to do whatever you want wherever you want. If places are set aside or it’s organized in some way obviously there is no problem there.
Your opinions on street art?? So there’s a lot of controversies that go along with the subject and I want to know people’s op opinions. I personally think it is amazing and that it should not be illegal. I mean it adds so much beauty and originality to the town. I don’t view it as graffiti and ugliness, I view it as a great form of art that should be there to look at forever, not painted over or hidden away. But that’s just my opinion….What do you think? Also if you don’t approve of street art please tell me why because I find it hard to understand that people can hate it so much.
Answer. I agree that some work looks amazing, but that does not justify doing it on illegal property. I mean, are the artists that do these works really getting the credit they deserve? I would be so upset to work hard on a piece than have someone paint over it. Because it is an illegal act of art, this type of work in the art world is considered to be Low Art. High Art is what you would find in Museums and galleries. So I think street artists should put their work in these distinguishes places to have it properly recognized. And, the city does allow for street artists to do their work only if they have a permit to do so. If I had to pick, I’d rather be a distinguished street artist, than considered a street thug tagging up the city.
Street art?? What do you know about street art? Why is it done? How do they do it on tall buildings?
Answer. The motivations and objectives that drive street artists are as varied as the artists themselves. There is a strong current of activism and subversion in urban art. Street art can be a powerful platform for reaching the public, and frequent themes include adjusting, subvertising, and another culture jamming, the abolishment of private property, and reclaiming the streets. Other street artists simply see urban space as an untapped format for personal artwork, while others may appreciate the challenges and risks that are associated with installing illicit artwork in public places. However, the universal theme in most, if not all street art, is that adapting visual artwork into a format that utilizes public space, allows artists who may otherwise feel disenfranchised, to reach a much broader audience than traditional artwork and galleries normally allow.
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