Graffiti is considered by many as unnecessary vandalism by unruly teens or gangs, and while that is apart of graffitis history, graffiti has evolved to where it should at least be respected as a new art form that has been able to give some color and pop to the dull concrete city walls. Modern graffiti with spray paint arose in the inner city in the 1960s and 1970s with people just stylishly writing their names either to get recognition, make a political or social message, or to mark their gang territory. One of the first popular taggers went under the tag of TAKI 183 in New York. Due to graffiti’s largely being tagged on others property a war on graffiti was started and by the 1980s graffiti became less common. However, that just forced graffiti to adapt and overcome from simple tagging to a true art form that can be admired like the works of DaVinci and Picasso. From their graffiti gained more and more acceptance with the help of hip hop culture and the rise in popularity of artists such as Run DMC, Fab 5 Freddy, and LL Cool J. These two rising forms of art combined their strength to become an unstoppable force that made its way into mainstream popular culture that is still having its presence felt in 2018.
Popular Graffiti Artists
- Lady Pink
- Seen UA
Graffiti is so different from other forms of art due to its unusual roots explained above, but also because canvases and their methods of painting are different. As no one before has seen spray paint as a way to actually create art due to its lack of control of line thickness and detail compared to traditional paint and brushes. Also while artists previously painted on paper, graffiti focuses on purposely being on city walls or buildings or other public property. This forced artist to go out of the comfort zone of contemporary art to develop a new style on its own. I must admit when I see some graffiti my first question is, “How were they able to do all of that with some cans of spray paint?” Some of the works these artists are able to do surprise me with their sheer detail, colors, and size. Sometimes covering Walmart sized walls edge to edge with bold saturated colors, sharp contrasts, and shocking detail with an aerosol can that is still considered inferior compared to traditional paint and brushes.
While graffiti got off to a “shaky” start with its association with gangs and unwanted vandalism of public property, it’s at least respected as a form of art that deserves its place in cities transforming the dull gray buildings of industrialization into lively vibrant works of art that can demonstrate the culture of the city in a creative and different way never thought of before.