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Is Graffiti Illegal?

The debate over whether graffiti is art or vandalism is still going on. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property’s owner’s permission is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime. Anything scribbled, scratched, or painted on the walls within public view is graffiti. The word originates from greek γράφειν — graphein —meaning ‘to write’. The first drawings on the walls appeared some thousands of years ago in the caves occupied by early men. This was followed by Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians who took to the walls to leave their marks on history.

A lot of information about the society and lives of the workers can be derived from these cravings. One such Graffiti on the walls of the Pyramid of Giza suggests that the workers during the era of the pharaohs enjoyed working for the king and were neither forced nor tortured in any manner. Graffiti begins in the late 1960s in Philadelphia. it was commonly used to make a politcal statement or to mark gang territory.

The history of graffiti is not well known and different sources give different information about its evolution. however, many graffiti writers { as they prefer to be called}, credit Taki 183 as being the mastermind behind the culture in new york. He worked as a messager who traveled throughout the city. While he did so, he would use a marker and write his name wherever he went he went, at subway stations and also on the inside and outside of subway cars.

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He soon became known throughout the city, in 1971 he was interviewed for an article by the New york times. Kids all over New york started to realize the fame they could get from tagging there names on subway cars that traveled through the city. As kids competed against each other to achieve fame and recognition, the increase of Graffiti on trains was humongous. For tagging on the insides of trains, permanent markers worked, but using spray cans of paint quickly became popular as well, especially for tagging on the outside of trains. Graffiti became so much more than simple tagging, however, graffiti writers started to try and outdo each others in terms of style. You have to admit there is a certain beauty to graffiti, with all the colors and the big variety of different styles of letters.

Although graffiti is illegal and is considered vandalism by the law, some people considered it art because it is a way people can express themselves and let their voices be heard. Graffiti can be used as an artistic expression or a form of communication, but many people consider it to be vandalism. Graffiti can be considered art as well, if graffiti artists are tagging then that is considered vandalism. If it is a meral and it points out a message then it is considered art. “Distinction between simple tags and more complicated pieces, stating that tags have little aesthetic appeal and probably should not be considered art. However, larger pieces require planning and imagination and contain artistic elements like color and composition” (Stowers). Graffiti has many different types of styles. Tagging is something a five-year-old child could do, tagging is just writing your name with paint or marker and shouldn’t be considered art.

However, more complicated graffiti should be considered art. Each graffiti piece that is creating states a statement or a saying. Something that could help society today, graffiti helps preserve old buildings that are landmarks in the city that people may try to tear down so they can build a mall or something else instead of trying to keep the history of the city alive. Graffiti has also been immortalized in many documentaries and movies such as Stations of the Elevated (1980), Wild Style (1983), Bomb it (2007), and Graffiti Wars (2011) amongst others. Considering Graffiti artists as vandals is a crime itself. Like every other form of expression and speech, Graffiti is also a powerful medium for people to bring forth their ideas and opinions. Graffiti has always been somewhat political, but it has come a long way from simply tagging one’s name to parodying world leaders to make a statement. If the authorities still tag it as something illegal, it is imperative to state that Graffiti is no less than a beautiful crime! Graffiti is an art and not vandalism it helps makes the cites and town more lively and creates beautiful works of art on places that are torn and falling apart.

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Is Graffiti Illegal?. (2020, Nov 21). Retrieved from

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