We’ve all seen graffiti. Whether it be names on the side of a train car, figures on the facade of a building, or a thought provoking mural, graffiti is still art.
Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, and graffiti is the perfect example of it. George C. Stowers, a former university student, wrote an essay for his Philosophy Aesthetics class about whether graffiti can be considered art. He says graffiti has to be considered an art form, and correctly makes a distinction between simple tags and more complicated pieces, stating that tags have little aesthetic appeal and probably should not be considered art.
There are people who feel that graffiti is just the defacing of public property, but it’s more than that. Graffiti is provocative and engages imaginations. And it’s not just tags, graffiti can be murals that depict something political or just something whimsical.
Graffiti has been around for ages. The first known graffiti artist was a high school student in Philadelphia named “Cornbread,” who started tagging walls around the city to get attention from a girl.
In 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell, artists on the western side noticed that the eastern side of the Wall was devoid of all color, unlike the West. They decided to use paint to depict their political messages on the stark white wall. The Wall is now a symbol that represents government censorship, unity, and the transformation the East underwent. Now the Wall is regarded as the longest ongoing piece of art.
Graffiti isn’t always about making a political statement, it can be just for it’s aesthetic purpose. Even though graffiti is technically the defacing of property, there are some artists who are commissioned to paint on the side of a building. Owners of a building will sometimes hire an artist to design and apply something to their property. Some owners will have specific designs they want applied, and some will give the artist complete creative freedom.
There are some famous graffiti artists who are controversial, but talented nonetheless. The list is endless, but the most famous are: Banksy, Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, and DAIM. All of these artists have made their name defacing property, but they don’t do it to be obscene or harsh, they paint to make a statement.
Art is anything that someone creates for its beauty and the emotions it brings someone to feel. By the sole definition of the word “art,” graffiti is included with ceramics, sculpture, and photography.
Artwork: CC0 Public Domain