General Question

willbrawn's avatar

How do you feel about graffiti?

Asked by willbrawn (6614points) June 28th, 2008 from iPhone

I was sitting in a bathroom one time and looked over and saw that somone had tagged on the wall. And what they wrote was pretty stupid. Other times though I see stuff and think that’s really cool. My question is when you see it does it upset you or do you take a second to appreciate it as art?

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74 Answers

damien's avatar

I don’t like when people just write their name but do like the more arty stuff like banksy does. But I saw a documentary on graffiti recently which was saying how you couldn’t really have one without the other.. they were saying all great graffiti artists start off with the simple stuff and develop into bigger and better things over time.

I’ve never been upset by graffiti, though. I merely look at what I see as a bad piece of graffiti as I would a bad piece of art.

PupnTaco's avatar

I personally don’t appreciate vandalism as art. Graffiti as an art style doesn’t do much for me, either.

Breefield's avatar

I enjoy most kinds of graffiti, when it’s out of the way, not on store fronts, or windows, road signs, etc. But miscellaneous walls, dumpsters, railroad cars and the like.
I guess it also depends on what they paint. If I like it I’m down with it, even if I don’t like it, but I understand it, I’m down with it. Anyhow, I wouldn’t do it or condone it, but I get it.

arnbev959's avatar

I like it if it’s clever.

lefteh's avatar

As Breefield said, I enjoy graffiti as an urban art form when it is not defacement of a frequented, public area or facade. As long as it’s either tucked away or on a wall, tunnel, or something else of that nature, I’m down with it.

Allie's avatar

damien: I love Banksy’s work.

I think there is a difference between tagging just to tag and graffiti as a form of art. I can appreciate it when it’s done as art.

reed's avatar

Defacing public or private property is just asinine in my opinion. Anyone caught doing such should be arrested and their punishment should be two weeks of cleaning graffiti. Some of it is indeed artistic in nature but it is “forced” art. Those that have talent should put it to better use.

BronxLens's avatar

My stance is that if it’s art done with permission of the owners or permit-granting town/city agency if done on public property, then ok. But to do so without permission, as PupnTaco stated. is nothing more than vandalism, which is, as a website noted, “a blight on the city, causing depreciation of property values, creating an eyesore, and serving as a vehicle for maintaining gangs”:

As a mean of protest , I can see the merits of it, but location among other factors would need to be considered in judging it.

I love the work that artists such as Banksy do to defy authority, mock taboos, and bring attention to social unjustices among other more understandable reasons, but if cought, I wouldn’t feel sorry for the chap is he had to clean up all the graffiti he has plastered since he started his cause celebre.

marinelife's avatar

Why can’t graffiti artists produce their art without vandalizing the property of others? Why is their art OK to do that with, but not mine? Or yours? Or any other artist?

Cleverness does not excuse the lawbreaking aspect of it. Also, very little of it rises to the level of art or cleverness.

jrpowell's avatar

I mind it if someone tags the fence outside of someones house. If someone paints a mural on the back of a building by the railroad tracks I don’t mind. If your graffiti takes less than hour it is probably going to suck.

beast's avatar

I enjoy most graffiti, if it’s artsy. It’s just stupid and obscene if it’s derogatory.

Dog's avatar

I make my living as an artist.

Because graffiti artists choose to use the property of OTHERS to express themselves at great cost to OTHERS it is offensive to me.

I am looking at the motivation behind graffiti:

To mark territory- just like a dog peeing on a tree.
This is WHY they choose to paint on the property of OTHERS.

If the graffiti artist chose to paint on an acceptable surface such as their own car, wall etc then I might find some of it impressive and even interesting because then the motivation would be to CREATE not to
just pee on a tree.

mirza's avatar

Graffiti is a form of rebellious art to me.

AstroChuck's avatar

Over the urinal it said “Why are you reading this? The joke is in your hand.”
I would have laughed if it hadn’t been true.

shockvalue's avatar

here’s what wrote last time the question was asked :

As a graffiti ARTIST myself, I have to say, I’ve seen my fair share of rubbish. to all you “taggers” out there, please, grow up. I’m sorry your allowance isn’t big enough, but being a cool rebel isn’t going to do anything but negatively impact your environment. Graffiti can be beautiful. With placement and thought, graffiti can enhance any landscape. I know banksy was already mentioned, but he is a prime example of street art done right. Also, look at some of the work in Brazil and São Paulo, drab impacted communities are brought to live with vivid colours and bursting imagery.

Also, check out the Wooster Collective , and the incredible work of Alexandre Orion

Also, artist blu is one of the most innovative out there, with a new short film called MUTO. check it out

ninjaxmarc's avatar

Vandalism – ugly and waste of tax dollars
Murals – beautiful works of art

shockvalue's avatar

I’ve seen some pretty ugly murals in my day.

shockvalue's avatar

My day? What am I talking about?! I’m only 19!

cheebdragon's avatar

Give them the death sentence, Im sick of looking at the shit, its on everything! It looks like shit, and the cops dont do a god damn thing about it. The few kids they actually do arrest just get put on the graffiti removal crews, paint over the shit, then they have a blank canvas to go back to later…..

Breefield's avatar

Goodness, so harsh, don’t you see it as quippy self expression? Even a little?

shockvalue's avatar

wow cheeb, a bit intense no?

shockvalue's avatar

Should I be put to death for this? Or what about this?

cheebdragon's avatar

No, I dont. Self expression on property that belongs to someone else???? That’s bullshit….
If they want to tag their own property, fine by me I’m all for it, but most of them dont,
they would rather tag their neighbors property, they would rather tag every sign on the freeway, every street sign, every fucking park bench, every slide/swing/jungle gym at the park, trash cans and dumpsters, shopping carts, public bathrooms, every building, and even the sidewalk…..they make places look like shit!
What you call “self-expression”, costs some people $1,000’s every year. But what would you know about any of that, you think its just art, right?

shockvalue's avatar

So it’s okay for Coke Nike and McDonalds to bombard us everyday with obscene degrading messages, intruding every aspect of our daily lives and there’s nothing we can do about it, but as soon as a single individual speaks up, cries out against the tyranny and oppression they society subjects them to they are reprimanded and sentenced with fines and jail time? Forgive me if I am being blind but, how is that any different?

shockvalue's avatar

Here’s a quote I found to better articulate what I am attempting to convey:

*People are taking the piss out of you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and that all the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.

You, however, are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Fuck that. Any advert in a public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. Less than nothing, you especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They owe you. They have re-arranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.*

the quote if from banksy, I’m interested to see if you loath him as much as you do the rest of the graffiti world.

wildflower's avatar

Simple – often badly done – tags and thoughtless writing I could do without. My mum always told me an idiot writes his name everywhere and that tends to pop in to my head when I see those….
On the other hand, I do read bathroom wall scribbles and some make me smile or giggle which is cool.
When it starts to transcend graffiti in to mural art, I always stop to admire them. I like those and I respect the artists that make them and take practically no credit for them. In fact I’m thinking of doing a photo series because there’s quite a few of these around town.

judochop's avatar

graffiti yes, tagging no!

Cardinal's avatar

@cheebdragon: I agree completely!

@Breefield : You are an idiot encouraging and supporting the defacing of public & private property!

@wildflower: I would like to see a picture of one of the graffiti paint sprayers being hauled off to jail after painting over someone’s private masonry.

jamzzy's avatar

what i wrote last time:
i tag. i love graffiti i think its beautiful. its bassicaly all we do in my town and its not to deface property we dont do it on anyones home we do it on empty boring walls that belong to old buildings. i ride around with my small team of 4 people taging my nick and my towns name onto trucks so that teams from other towns know whats really good and for people to look at my art. i hate when people say its a crime. all were doing is drawing and on things people dont care about, whats the harm in that.

lefteh's avatar

@Cardinal: It’s way out of line for you to be calling Breefield an idiot right now. He made it clear that it should be in an inconspicuous place. Furthermore, he said that he wouldn’t condone it or do it. You can hardly say somebody is encouraging and supporting something they do not condone. That’s just a thesaural nightmare.

shrubbery's avatar

“I was in a public toilet once, and noticed some graffiti on the wall of the cubicle. Someone had written Metallica Rules. Below that, it said Metallica sucks. Below that it said you suck and below that it said fuck you. And I thought damn, why do so many people pee with pens?”

-Demetri Martin

wildflower's avatar

Some of the ideas on reasonable consequence for doodling in the wrong place that are expressed here are a bit frightening…....and I know this’ll get a few backs up, but do you discipline your family as harshly?

cheebdragon's avatar

So how many of you have had to paint your garage because some little jackass decided they need tag it??

@shockvalue~ are you saying that because companies pay for all the various ways to advertise their buisnesses, you should be able to deface anything you can get your ignorant little hands on? Is that your logic? Is graffiti your way of “Sticking it to the man”?

benseven's avatar

@shockvalue -I disagree that you’re a graffiti artist – a graff artist / graff writer tends to stick to more traditional forms than the stencil / doodle / sticker side of things you’re into. I’d probably call you a ‘street artist’ – I don’t want to belittle your work, but Graffiti artist typically has connotations of letter-based graff like this (one of mine).

I worked that out before you posted any of your work. How? Because you decided ‘taggers’ were lame and seperated them from the rest of the movement. This is typical of someone whose output would be viewed as more creative or worthwile than graffiti bombers, but who hasn’t come up through the traditional route of ‘writer’. I don’t tag any more, I don’t necessarily agree with or encourage it, but I’m not wildly ignorant enough to ignore its various calligraphic / foundational importance in the artform as a whole. One would not, and will not, exist without ther other.

benseven's avatar

Also, @cardinal, I have no problem telling you outright you’re a moron if you think hauling a graffiti writer off to jail with rapists and murderers is going to make the world a better place. What a jackass.

BronxLens's avatar

If someone can reform a tagger, its rapists and murderers. I mean, their social skills and modes of persuasion have been emulated by many & glorified by everyone.
(i hope all can detect I say this tongue in cheek)

Breefield's avatar

@Cardinal – I have nothing to say to you.
@cheebdragon – I get what you’re saying, but do you get what I’m saying?
@lefteh – thank you.
@wildflower – the comment about punishing one’s family as harshly was well put (brings things into perspective.)
@shockvalue – I loved Robot Disco.

shockvalue's avatar

@benseven: I guess I can see what you are saying, and fluthermore, I agree with you. However, I don’t mind bombing, as long is it is closer to the side of throwing up a piece. There are few things more beautiful to me than a well-done piece. It takes time, energy, perseverance and the artist gets little respect for the tremendous amount of work they have put into it. That, above all is that I respect. “Tagging” is ugly it is [usually] poorly thought out and sloppily scrawled across a wall. With a little effort a tag can become a piece of art, but you [generally] need more than a sharpie to do it.

I’ve tried my hand at freeform can art, and frankly I and not yet as good as I want to be. So I stick to methods with which I can better express myself. Until I have improved my skills, I don’t want to subject the rest of the world to my ugly tags.

Oh, and I write RAWR.

shockvalue's avatar

@Breefield: I second everything.

(yes, i love the robot disco too. thanks! )

Trance24's avatar

I feel the Graffiti art style is cool. But only if you can execute it. A lot of times I hate it when people deface property. But I have exceptions like the graffiti done by some European graffiti artist. They usually carry some type of message, and its done clean its not just slapped on the wall any old place. Banksy is a favorite of mine. Some of you have probably herd of him.

delirium's avatar

tagging is idiotic. Graf has the potential to be art. I actually organize artists to paint over something with ugly tagging that is either ignored or repainted and tagged and so on. We use the space to do large scale murals. It is NEVER tagged on again.

I don’t like basic Graf on private property or businesses, but I approve in abandoned buildings and hidden locations. I also Love bathroom art. Back in HS our bathroom didn’t have any windows, ventilation, real light. So I painted a window in the stall on the brick. It got back to me later that the janitors thought it was both funny and enjoyed it.

lefteh's avatar

That was you who painted the window!?

Seesul's avatar

@breefield: If what you meant by this:

I enjoy most kinds of graffiti, when it’s out of the way, not on store fronts, or windows, road signs, etc. But miscellaneous walls, dumpsters, railroad cars and the like.

was that railroad cars were out of the way, they are not. Our town has a major route going through it. There’s only one way to go north out of town and avoid a RR crossing, (and it’s the slow route). I’ve watched thousands of RR cars go by and used to actually enjoy trains of 100 plus cars go by. Now, a train doesn’t pass that doesn’t have the ugly scribbling of haphazard tagging on it. There’s no art in it, it’s just quick outlined vandalism, marking territory. I have yet to see one with any creativity, (shading, color variation, etc.) on it. Just a hit and run, “my gang’s better than your gang” immaturity.

That being said, I have seen sanctioned, artistic graffiti that has turned blighted areas into something pleasant to look at.

benseven's avatar

@Seesul – You clearly haven’t noticed the prolific works of many American freight graffiti artists rolling by then…

BronxLens's avatar

D’, abandoned buildings are still private property. It just makes something bad (empty) into something worst (an eye sore), IMHO.

Seesul's avatar

I was referring to his statement of “out of the way”. They are not. I wouldn’t consider all of those great, but that’s my personal opinion, I’ll admit. Some require more talent than others, and I’ll give you that…and no, they haven’t rolled by here, but I promise you, I’ll pay more attention in the future, maybe I can spot some great ones going by. I think maybe what doesn’t settle with my eye is the contrast and paint color used and that I just really like RR cars the way that they are. When they are rolling by, you can’t really study what is on them, so the opportunity is missed and it looks like scribbles on the wall.

My great aunt was in an old folks home in L.A. It was a great old building, but the walls kept getting tagged. This was years ago, and a few of the nuns saw talent in some of the tagging. They basically held a contest, asking for the walls to be covered, upon approval of designs. They got sketches of general ideas and had a jury (really varied, employees, residents, people in the neighborhood, and potential artists. What resulted was really something that everyone was happy with and a definite improvement to the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, the building was deemed not adequate and the facility had to be moved. Really unfortunate, because not only was the wall and it’s art gone, but the many people in the neighborhood who had been employed by the facility had to be let go. A no win situation for a political decision.

cheebdragon's avatar

for every good piece ,
there are 100,000 shitty tags

There are huge public costs associated with graffiti; an estimated $12 billion a year is spent cleaning up graffiti in the United States. Graffiti contributes to lost revenue associated with reduced ridership on transit systems, reduced retail sales and declines in property value ( around 15–20%). In addition, graffiti generates the perception of blight and heightens fear of gang activity.

Knotmyday's avatar

If you are the guy who paints giant pictures of whales on buildings, good for you. I don’t personally enjoy them, but the owner of the building obviously wanted you to put them there, and most likely paid you for it. Kinda fun, you were occupied for a few days, and you contributed to the economy.

If you, on the other hand, are the guy who spray-painted (and I quote) “Fuk yuo” on my vehicle, not good. You owe me $1700, and I will gladly give you an ass-beating as quid pro quo.

Dog's avatar

Quote from Knotmyday:

“If you, on the other hand, are the guy who spray-painted (and I quote) “Fuk yuo” on my vehicle, not good. You owe me $1700, and I will gladly give you an ass-beating as quid pro quo.”

I know a LOT of folks who are victims like this- cars, houses, fences, motorhomes- ANYTHING.

Many of them cannot afford to repair the damage, already living at the limit of their means in a bad economy. That and the fact that once repaired it can happen over and over again.

One shop owner close to me just confronted taggers on the side of his business who were for the umpteenth time defacing his shop. He was writing down the license # of one of their cars and one pulled out a gun and shot him. He is in critical care.

I believe in the freedom this country offers- but NOT in the freedom to express yourself at great cost to others. I still stand by my analogy of dogs peeing on trees to mark territory.

makemo's avatar

Mostly I find it too mainstream to be interesting.

benseven's avatar

Oh, the Irony.

cheebdragon's avatar

What is ironic?

shockvalue's avatar

You don’t get it?

arnbev959's avatar

obviously she doesn’t. i don’t either. explain?

shockvalue's avatar

Graffiti was once the ultimate stance against all that is “mainstream.”
A cry out for help in world that won’t listen. To know that it has now been seized by the corporate media, processed and churned out into a product of advertising is a violent slap in the face to all that this vigilante (albeit somewhat misguided) activism has become.

Breefield's avatar

“Mostly I find it too mainstream to be interesting.”

It’s ironic that it’s mainstream when it in itself is bitching about mainstream.

benseven's avatar

I made that comment because the irony is that graffiti is far from mainstream.
It’s a subculture that very few people within society as a whole understand, let alone participate in.
Someone saying graffiti is too mainsteram clearly has a view established by the small proliferation of weak graffiti rip-offs that have made their way into modern advertising, or just doesn’t know their arse from their elbow, to coin a british phrase…

Knotmyday's avatar

Graffiti is the defacing of the property of others. If someone wanted you to paint on their property, they would ask you to and hopefully pay you. Suddenly, miraculously, it would become ART and both parties would be happy.
Those who graffiti are vandals, and I consider them the same “subculture” as pickpockets, convenience-store robbers, and identity thieves. They are the crap on the collective sole of society.
If you want to be really cool and avant-garde, paint lurid slogans and unimaginative designs on your own shit. Then share it with the public. Or does that seem too “mainstream?” In that case, have fun decorating your cell-block walls when you get caught destroying something that somebody else owns.

titan9's avatar

it’s addicting…

cheebdragon's avatar

Im sure it is…....~

benseven's avatar


As you might imagine, a subculture formed around a shared pastime such as Graffiti makes slightly more sense (and actually exists) than a subculture formed around the picking of pockets… There are many sprawling web communities centered around graffiti, I doubt there’s quite such a community vibe amongst thieves?!

Ironically, ‘Suddenly, Miraculously’ is why the argument that illegal graffiti is not art is stupid. The design does not change with permission, it remains the same, it is merely how it is classed by the masses, who most graffiti writers don’t gve a flying hyuk about as you can probably tell.

The beautiful thing about this entire thread is graffiti doesn’t give a damn what you think, it never has, and it never will.

Knotmyday's avatar

You say tomato, I say Solanum lycopersicum. Unfortunately for you, the law is on my side. Enjoy your sprawling web communities!

lefteh's avatar

The law being on your side means very little.
Especially in the United States.

Knotmyday's avatar

Durum hoc est sed ita lex scripta est

lefteh's avatar

Cessante ratione legis cessat ipsa lex.

Knotmyday's avatar

Touché! well played.

benseven's avatar

Enjoy my sprawling all over yo’ community, smartass ;)

cheebdragon's avatar

How old are you benseven? 13? 14?

benseven's avatar

I’m as old as you’d like me to be, my dear.

lefteh's avatar

He’s clearly seven.

benseven's avatar

Well yes, but the debate here is about how old I am.

As my Grandmother would say, I’m as old as my tongue, and a little bit older than my teeth.

cinderflubbin's avatar

if it’s really stupid, then the graffiti stinks and needs to be scrubbed off. but when it’s really cool, like the stuff on the link by shockvalue, then it should stay as is.

Marmeduke's avatar

Graffiti is an unhelpful term. It makes small town scrawls on the side of a brick wall sound the same as Banksy’s stuff. The location of the graffiti is important too. There’s a fine line between graffiti and public art/sculpture. Many beautiful old European towns are full of paintings on the walls, outdoor exhibitions, sculptures etc. Murals are just graffiti with a different name. I’m not talking about names scrawled outside train stations. When there’s clearly a talented artist involved it makes the whole thing more pleasurable to look at, and challenging too.

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