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Let me ask you, what does a graffiti writer look like? How do they dress? What music are they into? I reckon these questions are unanswerable. Graffiti is a global phenomenon, which is constantly evolving, silently recruiting new members into the clique from all walks of life. From some recent television adverts it appears the media use it as a tool to make products seem slick and stylish in comparison to its loose and sometimes untamed characteristics, but I’m pretty sure mostly it is misunderstood and the people who do it, victims of very bad press.
Graffiti is grouped together by ‘news giants,’ like the BBC, with anti social behaviour (and rightly so) but words they coin to describe the individuals who belong to the ASBO culture, such as “hoodies,” just accentuate the negative stereotype that is wrongly placed on the majority of youth. Isn’t it possible that some writers don’t spend their Saturday nights holding bottles of White Lightning.
Some people try to supply explanations for why graffiti occurs. For example, I’ve heard it said that graffiti writers have anger or aggression issues that they choose to take out in this particular form. This may well be true in some cases, but I’d say it’s more about rebellion than anything else. Getting a kick out of breaking the law, not vandalising something as a substitute for rage.
A common assumption that people, ignorant of graffiti’s complexity often make, is that the writer must be tasteless and takes no care in his work. In fact the opposite is true. Graffiti is a study, a craft, and a science. It takes a particular type of person to be driven enough to make a name for themselves in the midst of all the negative shadows it seems to cast for the eyes of ignorant others. Many would have themselves think that to be as far removed from graffiti as is possible is the key to it not being visually unappealing, due to their not noticing it, but surely the more this is done, the worse the supposed eyesore will become when it is seen. If the reverse is effected and the person immerses themself in the culture, the true complexity and intricacy of graffiti will soon become visible.
We mustn’t forget that writers are the ones who are informed to a fuller extent, but are not able to show that they’re informed in all situations, for fear of disapproval, or even arrest.
Let me put across a scenario to you that I could easily get into if I didn’t keep my mouth shut when ignorant people spout off about how stupid graffiti is:
Me: “All right, how was your weekend”
My associate: “Oh, I’m pretty p...ed off. These f...in kids did a really big graffiti on my new Homebase, Mediterranean-style, fence panel. It’s ruined!”
Me: “Don’t get all stressed about it. Your fence probably looks better now”
My associate: “Oh shut up. Are you saying you’d like to spray your name in 5 foot letters on your own fence.
Me: “Yeah I’d do a good job of it as well, I like graffiti.”
My associate: “Well there’s no accounting for taste! You’re obviously a coarse, reckless, vandal.”
This is only a hypothetical situation, because, as this illustrates, speaking your mind gets you nowhere in our society. To do something you enjoy, that others frown upon, takes cunning. Being guileful and shrewd about the things you want kept secret is the only way they can stay covert.
It’s the same as someone who hides his smoking habit. The only difference is smoking is awful for your health and graffiti is positively healthy. It’s got many advantages. For example, practice of planning and logical thinking (to get to places your not supposed to be without being caught), fresh air, exercise, confidence and discipline (in constantly trying to improve and make the current attempt better than the last).
It’s a shame that so many people think differently, but then graffiti wouldn’t be what it is without strong opposition that makes doing it so much fun. Graffiti is about individuality, camaraderie and self-expression, so don’t shove it together with the rest of anti social behaviour, on level par.
Repine Magazine - Online Graffiti Magazine, UK
This article has been viewed 10373 times in the last 5 years
Luke: 19th Feb 2009 - 10:19 GMT
Hi. This article will probably be of interest to you:
Franny Wentzel: 19th Feb 2009 - 23:16 GMT
Uhm... hello? Grafitti is the defacement of other peoples property - without their permission no less.
There's a thing for people who want to express themselves with pigments. It's called a canvas. You can get 'em at art supply stores.
Grafitte is the human equivelent of a dog lifting its leg to mark its scent on a tree only piss will wash off in the rain.
Peter: 19th Feb 2009 - 23:30 GMT
franny, i think you might be confusing "graffiti" with "tagging". weve had this argument on here countless times, heh. mindbendingly aesthetic murals painted on walls versus someone scrawling their name on a wall with a marker.
im of the opinion that its sad to deny an entire art movement credit simply because of some of its criminal elements. practically every element of pop culture has criminal elements, you know? there is some amazingly beautiful graf out there, and in no way is it all illegal. comparing it to dog piss sort of makes you come across as one of those conservative critics that like to shake their fist at anything out of the ordinary, anything new, anything that is underground or truly communicates the stereotypically repressed voice of the streets... i know youre not one of those people (i can tell by your amazingly insightful and beautiful posts on here, so no ofense intended, trust me!) so try to give it the benefit of the doubt?
but do feel free to hate the scrawl and tagging and abject vandalism, by all means. its a legit "quality of life" issue, and even hardcore graffiti heads hate it because of the stigma it gives their more legitimate work...
repine: 2nd Mar 2009 - 11:28 GMT
Respect to Peter.
Thanks for the link Luke (Do you post on CN under Luke1972?)
espone: 8th Jun 2009 - 01:12 GMT
graffiti should be illegal,otherwise it wouldnt be graffiti,you wouldnt get any rush at all from just doing it on canvas.im not saying canvas is weak,just saying that thats not "real graffiti".and if you think im wrong your hearts not really in it
anon (184-77-135-14.par.clearwire-wmx.net): 24th Nov 2010 - 22:15 GMT
i agree with espone that doing it on canvas doesn't give you the same rush, but it is a more marketable way to use your talent. To me graf is another form of art and expression. I would rather walk by an abandoned building with a beautiful display of colors and characters, than one with rotten boards falling off the windows, looking dull. Every writer has a different reason to do it. some want the rep, some love art like i do and want to put it everywhere, for all to enjoy, and sadly some do just to be a vandal. And i also disagree with the statement that it looks like dog piss, you must be referring to what we call "toys" that don't know what they're doing and should never have picked up a can.
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