By: Jessie Trudell
According to a 2014 article published by The New York Times, there are two types of graffiti: one type known as ‘bombing,’ which is when artists tag as many locations as possible, and the other type known as ‘burning,’ which focuses more on graffiti as an art form as opposed to vandalism.
It is difficult to say that just anyone can create graffiti, it obviously takes some talent and skill to design some of the more impressive works. However, considerable controversy has arisen due to the simple concept of whether or not graffiti artists have permission to use their selected canvases.
In the world of graffiti, an artist cannot gain the respect of his or her peers based off sheer artistic talent. Much of the respect circulating around graffiti spawns from the willingness of the artist to take great risks and work outside the law.
Graffiti can be viewed as a form of expression, a form of vandalism or a tricky combination of both. One of the most common mediums used is spray paint, especially in cities or densely populated areas.
The media has taken the concept of graffiti and depicted it as a practice associated with crime and troubled youth; but, perhaps shining a positive light on the topic could improve the issue for everyone and clear up a few stereotypes in the process.
In response to a series of graffiti on subway trains in the late 1980s, the city of New York called graffiti artists forward to create public murals to exercise their artistic talent in a legal way. Such an act by the city allowed artists to work carefully to perfect their work, as opposed to being rushed due to the risk of getting caught. While this curved some of the impermissible graffiti for a period of time, the graffiti community soon retaliated by claiming that the entire culture of the art form revolves around the risk and rush that occurs during creation. In addition, creating public murals for the city may not allow the same freedom of expression as secretly performing the act of graffiti without the city’s watchful eyes would.
After years of the general public viewing graffiti as a nuisance, the 21st century has brought changes in the outsider’s disposition of the debated practice. Now more than ever, graffiti is being viewed as an art form that takes serious talent, and in some cases, training. An art that was once viewed as commonplace and insignificant is now receiving respect and validation from the art community, with some of the more popular works being shown in art galleries from New York to London. Because graffiti is now being widely acknowledged as a true art form, this concept of “art without boundaries” has quickly spread worldwide in the past couple of decades.
Graffiti serves as guidance for many youth, including people from both the very wealthy crowd and the very poor community. Participating in the art of graffiti, though technically not allowed, can serve as distraction from more incriminating and dangerous activities such as drugs, alcohol, or committing acts of violence or crime. It can also serve as a hobby and a form of stress relief for youth of various backgrounds. In addition, the youth involved in the graffiti movement often use legendary artists as their mentors, hoping to one day be as successful as them. Youths participating in the graffiti movement have been known to idolize famous graffiti artists such as Cantwo, Obey, T-kid and Banksy. Each of these artists utilizes a unique style that is completely their own, ranging from technical and edgy, to stenciled and political.
If art is simply an expression of the self, then graffiti should definitely be acknowledged as an art form. It is undeniable that graffiti is a form of expression, and perhaps it is the ultimate form, considering graffiti artists personally put so much at stake every time they choose to create.