What’s so Good about Graffiti Art?
Updated: Feb 28, 2019
By Linda Sheridan, 2019.01.02
How do you feel when you see vandalism around your neighborhood?
Does it make you feel unsafe?
What are the costs of graffiti vandalism?
What happens when graffiti is transformed from a rebellious act of vandalism into a legal form of expression? Through the Graffiti Education and Mural Arts Program, an initiative by the San Diego Cultural Arts Alliance (SDCAA), we explore the infinite possibilities and opportunities offered by Graffiti Art.
San Diego spends over $16 million a year painting over vandalism to only have it reappear within days. Property values drop, and kids are charged as felons.
So what is it about Graffiti Art that has cemented its role as a global influence in pop culture and design for over 50 years?
The beginning of graffiti as we know it began in the late 1960s. “Writing on the walls of the nation’s land and over-lords gives voice to the pain and to the small victories in class warfare,” writes Lucy Lippard in Mixed Blessings: New Art in Multicultural America. Initially, taggers sought recognition and respect by competing over the quantity and the visibility of their tags. But as this practice grew and the numbers of taggers mushroomed by the thousands, those looking for a way to stand out began to place more value on artistic quality and style.
These “tags” were often simple and stark. Graffiti Art later became a complex web of electrifying color, innovative calligraphy, and a kind of rhythmic chaos. With all the controversary surrounding its illegal nature and beginnings, the general public missed being aware of the impact this artform has had on artistic design, fashion, recreational vehicles, advertising and professional graphic design. The non-conservative use of vibrant colors surrounding us has become commonplace.
Graffiti Art can act as a tool to connect with youth who are starving to be seen, recognized and acknowledged. Teaching Graffiti Art automatically exposes them to composition, line and color—oftentimes the equivalent of semesters’ worth of college classes. Artistic components are automatically built into creating a Graffiti Art style. This type of learning teaches the mind to “connect the dots,” ascertaining the relationships between different ideas and concepts.
Graffiti Art is in the public domain, communicating messages we may need to hear. Graffiti Art, when incorporated in mural arts, is a valuable tool. Murals are noted in graffiti vandalism prevention as a number one deterrent in the defacement of public and private property. They improve civic and cultural landscape and give a voice to the spirit of this region. Murals celebrate the roots of diverse cultures and captures San Diego's history. There are myriad ways to solve problems and change lives that are lost and misdirected. Art is and has always been the most powerful and long-lasting way to impact an individual, a community or a region.