Graffiti can be defined as markings in terms of lettering or images that have been painted, scrawled or scratched in a property. It is usually a form of self expression and it involves creativity. This form of art has lacked recognition and approval by the society. Most of the graffiti found in the streets is done using sprays and it is this form that is viewed as vandalism. Most of the graffiti is found in the form of painted walls, street posts, bathroom and toilet walls, bus and train seats, bill boards, side walks and telephone booths (Bradley, 2001). Though the act of writing on walls began along time ago, graffiti became a culture, a movement and a form of lifestyle 30 years ago. The early man drew pictures on the walls of the caves and the Romans during the Roman Empire wrote on the walls of the cities that they conquered. Los Angeles can be said to be the first city in the United States to be painted in this form of art. Around 1940, it was painted with Cholo writings which were Hispanic gang writing. Modern graffiti can be said to originate from Combread, a writer who used it to impress a girl he admired. He started by writing his name on her locker, went on and wrote it at her bus stop and in due course, his name was all over Philadelphia (Powers, ). From then the graffiti artists have taken this form of art to various levels. Some well known graffiti artists are Twist and Giant. These two artists from San Francisco have taken graffiti to the streets and from the streets to the galleries. They have become well known in the streets and in the conventional world as artists. The graffiti artists use spray paints, pens, shoe polish, bucket paint, stickers and sand paper to paint.
Graffiti is used to express ones true feelings when it is viewed as an art and not as vandalism.
But there are some who paint vandalism as a way of vandalism. There are those who paint graffiti as a form of art while others paint it as a form of vandalizing. But for whatever purpose that it is aimed at, graffiti is a form of it due to the level of creativity involved. There are many forms of graffiti and it depends with the artist and his or her intention. Some people may paint graffiti such that it carries a hidden message. Others make it so as to express and let out their feelings. Others make it for fun and humor in a manner aimed at brightening other people’s lives. This is usually colorful, beautifully painted graffiti without disrespect. Gangs make graffiti with an aim of marking and establishing their territories. This form of art is about expressing and presenting yourself as many times as you can and as noticeable as possible (Farrell, 1997). Graffiti can be used as a form of advertisement e.g. the Mural Kings of New York who are paid to advertise using graffiti on the street walls.
Why it was considered as a kind of vandalism
There are some people whose main purpose of painting graffiti is for vandalism. This is more so when it is done on the private property. The graffiti artists think that what they do is a way of life and a lifestyle but the majority of the societies tend to think otherwise. The graffiti used by gangs to mark their territory made graffiti to be associated with crime and to be considered as vandalism. In true sense, only a small part of graffiti is gang related. Even though there are those who claim that the element of criminality in graffiti is what makes it attractive and appealing and that legal graffiti is not interesting at all.
How it became a major concern
The major concern about graffiti arose from the painting of the same in trains and subways. By doing this, the expression and concern that arose was the overall sense of insecurity and danger in the subways. The groups formed by the artists ie the crews were seen as criminal groups.
How it became an art and how that can be influenced by development of the urban spaces.
Though considered illegal, incoherent and of low standard presentation, its aesthetic criteria makes it an art form. Graffiti as compared to those works found in galleries and museums has not been formally recognized and accepted as a form of art. This is not because it lacks in any kind of form or because it lacks some important aesthetic elements, but the main reason why graffiti has not been fully accepted is due to its location, its open and bold presentation and its mode of unconventional presentation. Its illegal location is not a reason of dismissing graffiti as a form of art. The popularity of graffiti rose with the rise of hip hop. Graffiti started in New York City and so did hip hop. Therefore graffiti is an important part of the hip hop culture.
Graffiti has grown into an art due to the formation of crews. This is a group of writers who have a passion of art and they come together to fulfill their ambitions. Most crew members are usually friends. This crew is usually not a gang though they sometimes look like a gang. This took the art of graffiti from one individual to a group of individuals and this uplifted it to higher level. Beef, which is rivalry between crew members, is what keeps the politics of graffiti moving. Graffiti as a form of art has inspired many young artist who use it to express their feelings and through this make very beautiful forms of art. From the streets graffiti moved to the subways and it s here that it became very competitive. The graffiti artists are competing for space. This is because there are no more spaces in the streets to paint the graffiti. This competition and lack of space has led to conflict between the graffiti artists and property owners.
Graffiti is an important part of culture and can be said to be a historical movement that should not be suppressed. However it should be regulated and used correctly because by doing this it can greatly beautify the city. Through regulating it, the city can help the citizens to embrace and accept its beauty while at the same time removing the negative connotations that are associated with it. But again regulating it may make it less appealing as this will mean limiting the extent that one can express him or her self.