If you read my recent article on Urban Traveling you would know that I am a person who enjoys cities, and with that comes an appreciation of an art form that thrives in them, graffiti. With the rise of #streetart on social media like Instagram and twitter and companies like Heart City Apparel it is safe to say that if graffiti had a spokesman, they deserve a raise. There is certainly a generational difference when it comes to labeling something as street art instead of graffiti,but it is certain that the art form is on the rise and shows no signs of stopping. Street art has become ubiquitous and been co-oped by businesses looking to attract younger customers so much that I don’t see the scales tipping back to where the majority of people see graffiti with a negative connotation.
The different labels of street art and graffiti are both filled with weighty connotations that, put simply, mean acceptable or even encouraged versus a pock mark on society. Street art it seems has evolved out of graffiti as a more palatable form anti-establishment expression, while graffiti remains the work of criminals. While I was living in Frankfurt, the ECB or European Central Bank had actually hired street artists to cover the walls surrounding their newest facility. If that isn’t a sign that the “establishment” has accepted street art then I’m not sure what is. Cities all over the world have started capitalizing on the tourism associated with the street art in their cities as well as creating sections where street art is even encouraged and publicized. One of the most famous contemporary artists right now, who has had films, scandals, and made worldwide news is even a street artist named Banksy, who many say sticks closer to the protesting roots of graffiti.
However, things like the tags of signs and illegible graffitied names will continue to be seen as criminal activity and vandalism because they weren’t pre-approved by the proper authorities or they aren’t an actual depiction of art. Other street art “exhibits” will be painted over or removed because of this which is one of the things that makes street art truly unique. While artists can sell pictures of graffitied walls or street corners in a gallery, the true art will be free for a short period of time before removed or replaced making each one a one of a kind experience that is free for anyone willing to take a look at it. If you are a lover of art and still haven’t warmed up to the idea of graffiti as art try and open up your eyes a bit more on your walk today and see if anything strikes your eye as street art instead of graffiti. Feel free to let me know where your favorite pieces are or if you consider them graffiti or street art.