By Mahenau Leghari
It is no lie that graffiti, the act of writing, drawing, or spraying in a public place, has become an integrated part of the urban culture. Whether it should be considered as ‘art’, however, is still unclear. After street art blew up in the 1970s and 1980s in New York, many other individuals, such as Banksy, Blek le Rat, and Lady Pink, and graffiti crews started to develop. As many graffiti artists started competing with each other on the streets, the quality of the art became much more important than the quantity.
However, the form of art still remains illegal in many countries, and authorities spend a lot of money cleaning it up. The question then arises if the time and effort put into the art are worth it if it will inevitably be taken down, but some argue that the street art adds to the cities’ character and expression and that no graffiti would give a boring impression.
While some appreciate the uniqueness the street art brings, others say that it has a messy look. Some also believe that graffiti should be considered art as it allows the artists to express themselves and let their voices be heard, just like regular paintings or drawings. Some artists have also banded together in protests to support graffiti, as it is considered as a form of political expression as well, and that it is the only way for artists to send messages to the public, whether it be political commentary or just a message to impact or influence the way someone thinks.
A lot of graffiti consists of inspirational messages, controversial opinions, or just anything abstract that is visually appealing. However, there are also many inappropriate forms of graffiti, and some argue that, because it is in a public space full of minors, it should not be allowed. While this is true, others argue that graffiti is a form of creativity and imagination and that the beauty of it is what makes each city individual.
Graffiti is also commonly associated with illegal activity, such as gangs, violence, and drugs and seeing art that reminds people of this every day on the streets is a reason why it should be taken seriously as vandalism, some argue. However, it is thought that most people do not like what they cannot understand, and because some may not necessarily understand the message of some of the art they just see it as a waste of space and vandalism.
Many arguments can be made back and forth, discussing if the street art should be considered as vandalism or not, but there are positive and negative aspects of graffiti. Although the art form is illegal, some see it as an innovative way to spread messages and perspectives, and a way to give the city its own authentic image, and believe it to be art. Though both sides of the debate have valid points, whether or not you see graffiti as art or vandalism is completely up to you.