From vandalism to graffiti to street art
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From Vandalism to Graffiti to Street art
By Gabriela Sokol
What is street art
• Street art is the type of the art created and displayed in public locations rather than galleries. It is created to communicate something, make a statement or simply catch attention of the audience. Street art appears in many forms, it is mainly presented as graffiti artwork, sticker art and street poster art. It is often considered, as a form of vandalism and is done without permission and mostly illegal. Some of the street art work is commissioned and can be even displayed in galleries.
History• First signs of street art were visible as
early as in 1942 during World War II when a drawing of a bald character with a big nose with a phrase saying “Kilroy was here” started to appear wherever US servicemen were stationed.
• The beginning of modern graffiti can be found in the 50s to 60s, in Philadelphia. The credits for being the first modern graffiti artist go to Cornbread, Darryl McCray born 1953 in Philadelphia. It all started of with scribbling, “Cornbread loves Cynthia” to get his love’s attention. He took the idea from gangs that used tagging to tag their areas and made it available for anyone to do.
Engraving of Kilroy on the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Darryl McCray next to one of his tags
History• In celebration of the death of a famous jazz
player, C. Parker, nicknamed “Bird” people would write, “Bird lives” on walls all over the city. In 1970s graffiti moved from Philadelphia to New York City. Writers nicknamed TAKI 183 and TRACY168 started to get media’s attention during that time by tagging trains when they stopped at the train stations and letting the train carry their artwork around the city. TAKI 183’s nickname was short for “Dimitraki” which is a Greek alternative for his real name “Dimitrios” and the number of the street he lived on, 183 Washington Heights. TRACY 168’s real name was Michael Tracy and he was born at New York Hospital on E. 168 Street, combining the street number and his surname formed his nickname.
History• Another big movement in history of street art was getting
street art into galleries during late 1970s. One of those artists was Keith Haring with his chalk drawings found in New York City subway stations. In the 2000s street art finally started to become more legal, festivals and events stared to be organized to encourage street artists to create and also helped them gain exposure by opening open-air legal galleries. Street art becoming more popular got more people inspired and encouraged them to come on the streets to show their artwork.
Purpose There are a few reasons why people decide to vandalize, do graffiti or street art. Vandalism usually comes from boredom in less developed areas where young people have nothing else to do. Living in poverty makes people hate their surrounding and they may want to ruin in like in the documentary “Bomb It” where graffiti writers said themselves they used to do graffiti only to destroy the area around them. Some people may want to do it just to break the law as they feel limited or are interested in criminal activates and doing something illegal is a form of entertainment for them. Another reason could be to socialize and belong to a certain group as it gets people to work together when it comes to realizing bigger projects. A lot of gangs use tags to claim the area being owned by them.
Difference between graffiti and street art
• The main difference between graffiti and street art is that street art is trying to communicate something and get a message across, unlike graffiti, which is a form of communication only between graffiti writers. Another difference is the methods used to create street art and graffiti. Graffiti is usually created with spray paint and draw free hand. Street artists use many different methods such as stencils, stickers, posters or even masking tape.
• Street art isn’t just vandalism like some people think. Like any other form of art it is a way of expressing yourself. The difference between street art and any other kind of art is the fact it is placed in public. Street art has a big impact on our society as the street artists are usually sending a message through their artwork and it is often based on politics or social issues. Since it is located in the streets anyone can see it and it usually gets a lot of attention and has a big impact on the audience.
Advantages• Street art can make the area look better. Empty space,
old, damaged buildings or area ruined by graffiti and tags can be turned into attractive looking space by street artists what is very beneficial for the area as it brings more people into it. In popular destinations it could have an affect on economy of the area.
• Street art can send a political message across to the audience, as it is placed in public it usually gets a lot of attention and can have an impact on people view’s. It shows people they have their say and they shouldn’t be afraid of sharing their views and opinions.
• Street art can be a way of raising money for charity or promoting it. Some street artists donate their artwork that can be sold for a lot of money to various charity organization, such as the artwork Banksy donated to Bristol youth charity that was sold for £400,000.
• It is a way for artists to become noticed and famous. Iconic artists like Banksy or Sheppard Fairey started their career from creating street art. It allows talented artists show their work and get attention.
• Street art can emotional or cultural what allows the audience to relate to it on different levels. That could make people more confident because they there is someone out there with who they can relate to.
Advantages• Street art is a part of culture now and it is an
important aspect of todays culture as it allows many people to have their say in the public on serious issues (like wars).
• It can also be used for protest. Artwork that talks about political issues usually gets a lot of attention like Banksy’s mural criticizing the French Government's heavy-handed approach to migrants in the Calais that hit the headlines. Street art is easily accessible for everyone and can be an effective way of promoting a protest.
Disadvantages• Street art is still mostly done illegally and it can
cause a lot of problems. The permanent artwork is considered as vandalism and the non-permanent methods are usually classified as littering (e.g. stickers, posters).
• It can be bad for economy. Even though most of the time street art makes the are look most attractive at sometimes it makes the area associated with gangs. It can also make the area littered in places where there is too much street art.
• Some of the street artwork is being removed and it can be very expensive to clean up. London spends around £100M a year on cleaning up graffiti and street art. It can also be difficult sometimes to tell whether the artwork is a graffiti or street art piece. Removing it can be very time consuming for the owners of businesses or homeowners.
Types of street art
Street artists use many methods and mediums to create their artwork. The main types of street art are:• Sticker art – it uses home-made stickers
that can be easily printed anywhere and also can be easily places on different surfaces.
• Posters – posters can be easily printed anywhere however bigger size posters may be less accessible for everyone, they van be quickly out up and taken off.
Types of street art
• Murals – murals are painting done straight onto a wall, they can be painted using spray paint or normal paint
• Stencils – those use previously made shapes to spray over and quickly create an artwork that can be duplicated many times once you have the stencil.
• Tiles art – previously stuck together tiles that create an image that can be placed anywhere.
Inspiration• One of the main influences in street art is pop art as it
is seen everywhere and some people consider urban art to be the new pop art as it is widely available, to everyone and that was the main idea behind pop art. It is also usually easily understood as it often uses images, characters, signs from pop culture and is recognizable like for example Banksy’s artwork is almost as recognizable today as Andy Warhol’s art. The street artwork becomes iconic and becomes a part of pop culture. However pop art was more focused on being optimistic unlike street art which focuses on social issues and problems which may seem more depressive.
• Street artists are also inspired by other artists and the pop culture artists are the most common ones as pop culture is everywhere and it gets the most attention.
ConclusionStreet art came a long way from ancient paintings on walls to graffiti and into galleries. It is another form of art and expressing ourselves and it is a part of our culture and history. It still grows and develops because even though its history is very long, it has started evolving just recently. The media and techniques used to create it change as well as they are developed more and more. Internet is the place where the street art work is seen the most and that also gives another opportunity for the street artists to send a message across to a bigger audience. It has an impact on the society not only in a way where it ‘vandalizes’ someone’s property but also it can change our surrounding or the message it sends may make a change in our lives. I think that street art is a very important part of our culture.
Bibliography• https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilroy_was_here• http://mentalfloss.com/article/58725/9-game-changi
• http://www.widewalls.ch/defining-street-art/ • https://www.apollo-magazine.com/is-street-art-an-e
• Bomb It Dir. Jon Reiss 2007• Exit Through the Gift Shop Dir. Banksy 2010
Bibliography• https://www.fladgate.com/2013/05/street-art-the-legal-issues/ • https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice-points/who-owns-stree
• http://www.inbrief.co.uk/offences/graffiti/• http://www.zipcar.com/ziptopia/city-living/temporary-street-ar
• https://itsartlaw.com/category/street-art/ • https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2017/jan/22/brist