Who is responsible for the pervasion of this so called “artcrime” in today’s society???
The word “graffiti” is derived from the Latin term “graphium” which means “to write”. Graffiti evolved during ancient times but first impacted on modern society in the late 1960’s, when political activists used it as a medium of revolt against governing powers. Thereafter, individual artists began to gain recognition.
TAKI 183 was the first known artist to write tags, starting in central New York subways. After seeing the regular appearance of TAKI 183’s tags, new artists began to flourish throughout New York City, establishing personal tags visible to almost everyone. The artists’ goal was to be the most prolific and visible, leaving tags on subways, buses, trains and walls around the city.
Graffiti later developed into an “art form”, where the writer with the most unique style and conspicuous presence was deemed the best. While the competition between artists in New York reached boiling point at this time, the rest of the world began to experience the first of these so called “artcrimes”.
…”Graffiti is just another form of art, and art is all self expression, legally or illegally”…
Inevitably, laws were introduced aiming to control the outbreak of graffiti artists. This provoked a race amongst artists to paint as many trains and subways as possible, before the law caught them.
The recognition of style and technique gained more appreciation by fellow writers as the use of vivid colours and seemingly cryptic language developed. The original style of tagging progressively became an artform. Today there is a definite distinction between “tagging” to deface and “street art”.
Graffiti has developed over time to create a complex social framework, involving breakdancing, DJing, MCing and graffiti to form a popular youth culture referred to as “The urban Hip-Hop culture”. These arts arose from New York, where gangs used these various methods as a way of self expression and often in other ways to settle arguments. Recently, legal “street art” has been used by local government and youth centres to discourage the tagging and vandalism which regularly occurs in their area, to present to the upcoming youth a form of self expression without involving illegalities. But unfortunately, official attempts are often in vain.
The reason these artists enjoy painting walls results from “the adrenaline rush involved in expressing yourself illegally, which in our case just happens to be via graffiti. To me graffiti is just another form of art, and art is all self expression, legal or illegal” states local Perth artist Dave K. Dave goes on to say, “The ultimate rush comes from painting in a more difficult place, especially trains. There are plenty of new kids to the scene who just tag for a “kick” but don’t understand the deeper meaning of graffiti as an artform and it’s those people who give us a bad name.” Yet the continuation of youth projects such as that at the Claremont Showgrounds show a positive effect on the community, lighting up the walls and reducing vandalism in the area.
… “A surfer travels the world for the perfect wave, writers travel the world for the perfect train yard”…
Senior policeman, Constable, Nick Steele, has become a full time youth advisor, and organises legal graffiti for the kids of Perth. He says, “We use it as a gateway for the kids, to discourage the unartistic forms of graffiti like tagging and scratching, and encourage youth to get involved in projects such as the Claremont Showgrounds wall. To me these projects have positive effects on the kids and the community.” We can expect more legal graffiti to be organised in the near future.
The graffiti explosion has touched over 75% of the world, creating a worldwide network where writers from Australia may travel in Europe to paint trains… “Graffiti is similar to surfing, as a surfer travels the world for the perfect wave, writers travel the world for the perfect train yard,” says renowned artist CES of New York. The complexity of today’s youth culture continues to grow.
Today’s graffiti problem is commonly considered a burden on society, as the regular removal of graffiti costs an enormous amount of money. An estimated $15 billion (US) worldwide each year is spent on the consistent removal of sprayed, marked and scratched surfaces. If, as Constable Steele suggests, the artistic form of graffiti as street art can override the more defacing form of tagging & scratching, the graffiti culture may yet prove an asset to society by minimising graffiti done as vandalism.