History of Graffiti:
Originally, graffiti began in Philadelphia. Graffiti in 1920’s & 1930’s and was used by gang members, usually to
mark their territory and maybe to warn other gangs in New York. Before the 1960’s/1970’s graffiti was commonly
seen as vandalism and can still be today. When graffiti started becoming more popular in New York, more people
began to tag their name around the city, to gain popularity as the “bird lives” (to remember a old jazz musician
‘yard-bird’) was a successful tag, beginning the more common use of tags around New York. People would
usually tag subway stations, as this was a common use of transport it would gain more publicity when people
would commute from one station to another. Eventually authorities wanted to object this use of tagging, and in
attempt to stop the use of tagging they threatened to stop the trains from going out. Therefore tagging in subway
stations decreased and they focused more on walls and other public areas. Since the tagging moved from subway
stations to other areas, graffiti artists now had more area and time to focus on making the tags look more
interesting and creative, therefore they would provide more colour, image, and just more design in general. Taki
183 and Tracy 168 are couple of artists who gained popularity in the movement of tagging and graffiti, this would
usually be their “name” followed by street number.
For Graffiti - Social
Some area’s that may be rundown, or just generally not very well looked after can lead to unpopularity or a place
that many may not want to visit, due to it maybe looking unappealing. In this instance, graffiti can help make a
place that may of originally been a bit of an eye-sore, attractive to look at. If done by permission, graffiti artists a
able to use their creativity to make a place look more appealing by using illustration, colour, etc. Just so it makes
the place look more vibrant less of an eye-sore. Being a graffiti artist can be a possible career choice if it were to
be done legally. Some people will offer money to get the front of their shop shutters/walls designed to maybe
persuade more customers to enter the store, as it may look more attractive and brighten up the area, enticing
people to enter. Street art can offer a positive outlet, whether some people may see it as negative it is a way of
voicing concerns and frustrations in a constructive manner, rather than it being physical or verbal, it can be
displayed through art.
Against Graffiti - Social
Broken window theory, this is the idea that if a window is broken, and nothing is done about it,
people will see this as a deprived area, therefore this relates to graffiti that if a certain area is
covered in graffiti, the area will be seen as run down and deprived as some people don’t appreciate
the street art and see it as vandalism.
Gateway theory, this is the idea that if someone gets away with a small crime, and nothing is done
about it then it can lead onto a bigger crime and so on. So this theory also refers to graffiti in the the
way that if someone gets away with tagging, they would then go into producing more detailed
tagging and just graffiti in general, and they think they may be able to get away with it again.
Graffiti can be offensive. Such as use of racist words, or anything that can offend a community or
culture. Such things can disturb the peace in an area as people may may conflict against this.
Therefore graffiti in general can bring negativity as well and positivity. Worst case scenario is that
this may may leave this specific place looked down upon, and people leaving the area therefore
decreasing in popularity.
For graffiti - Political
People can share their views on the political agenda, through graffiti. It is a way of
expressing statements on thoughts on governments, co-operations, leadership,
etc. The reason this provides a positive outlet in terms of politics is it doesn't
involve anything too extreme to the point where any serious aggression may
occur, depending on whether the graffiti artist tagged themselves or decided to
take it further than just expressing an opinion.
Instead of the council having to pay decorators to paint, design, or redecorate a
certain area, they can just pay a fairly lower amount to get a street artist/graffiti
artist to apply their work to the area, offering more of an artistic approach to
making the area look better.
Against graffiti - Political
It is illegal, if not done with permission. It is criminal damage to a specific area time do
graffiti illegally, therefore you can be charged as it is an offence. It can cost a lot of
money to be removed from public areas, for example in 2003 records show that it cost
£100m a year, which was paid for by taxpayers. It can cause turf wars and encourage
an aggressive atmosphere such as violence and bad behaviour. The fact that graffiti is
so frowned upon by landowners, government, etc. Makes people think is there any worth
to graffiti if it is classed as vandalism and damage, some see this as a threat and
continue to graffiti to try and get their own way.
Pop art and it's inspiration
What is pop art?
Pop art is an art movement that took place around the 1950’s/1960’s. It takes inspiration from such commercial culture such as
advertising, hollywood movies and pop music.
Pop art is an influence everywhere, even some famous artists still resolve their work around the pop art style. Graffiti has been
developing through the inspiration of pop art throughout the years. Andy Warhol is a very inspirational pop artist as he was popular
for his pop art based work, graffiti artists would take off similar styles of his artwork, for example the bright block colours and the
image style that can look stencil like. Banksy now is one of the most popular pop/graffiti artists to day, he focuses on the negativity on
today's society as he doesn’t agree with it. Graffiti is now a lot more urbanised these days, therefore pop art maybe not be the same
as it used to be when in context with urban pop.
Most graffiti work is basically still pop art, but taken from a different perspective, and different approaches.
Some artists that may relate to pop art is work from Banksy for example, or Shepard Fairey due to some of their work being fairly
similar to the work of pop artists such as Andy Warhol.
Andy WarholShepard Fairey
Difference between graffiti and street art
Graffiti and street art seem very similar, in the form of art they both include producing art so that it it public.
However they are both very different contextual wise.
Graffiti artists usually tag their work or produce their work purely just on their name, it doesn’t usually actually
mean something to anyone else, apart from themselves or to communicate with other graffiti artists, they tend to
not really make a statement but try to publicise themselves, not their ideas/thoughts unlike street artists. Graffiti
mostly consists of tagging (and imagery), which results back to the late 1960’s in New York, of the graffiti art
Street artists try to make statements, they usually focus a lot more on presenting their ideas and thoughts in art
form so that it’ll make people think. They work similarly to traditional artists in the way that they try to produce
something conceptional, and attractive.
Both graffiti and street artists differentiate depending on society, fashion, style, politics. Whereas graffiti artists like
to produce work of their own opinion or their tag/idea’s (which wouldn’t really mean anything to anyone else),
street artists like too almost develop that method and produce work that in some way might affect others.
Famous graffiti artists
Egs - Has had a graffiti career that has spanned over 30 years. He has worked in several continents. He has influenced the graffiti
scene in europe.
Os Gemeos - Twin brothers from Sao Paulo started painting in the late 1980’s when hip hop culture started to gain popularity in
South American cities. They are known for their yellow figures that represented Brazil and its people.They have painted several large
murals in their home city and around the world.
Seen - Known as “the godfather of graffiti”. He started his work around 1973. He first started gaining recognition when he was
publicising his work in subways.
Lee - Seen as one of the most influential graffiti artists, he is very artistic when producing his work and often worked with a cartoon
style design when graffitiing on trains, he’d also sometimes tag the piece with a large bold “LEE”. He was another graffiti artist was
was acknowledged for being in the movement of art in New York, especially graffiti. His work has featured in many museums
Egs - Lee -
(A lot of information was taken from presentation slides)