Is graffiti an art form?Is graffiti an art form?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Art is defined as (according to Google dictionary):

The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Therefore, according to the definition above, graffiti is an art form. Graffiti should be looked at as any other expression of creative skills in visual form.

There are many artists who evoke feelings of anger, disgust, and negativity. For their critics, their expressions are vulgar and the critics cannot understand the meaning behind the work.

While graffiti has historically been regarded as vandalism, many could justify that other works of art are vandalism of culture, race, or morality.

Therefore, art should be defined by the mind of the creator, not society.

Below is a link which offers another's views, which are similar to mine. I am sure that you will be able to find some whom strongly disagree.

William Delaney eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Graffiti was never a serious problem before the invention of canned spray paint. Painting pictures and lettering on other people's buildings is a crime, and there can be little doubt that most the painting is done with spray paint that was obtained by shoplifting, which is another crime. I believe that all such vandalism should be discouraged and not encouraged by calling some of it artwork. Some of it is skillful, but little shows originality. I have suggested that there ought to be a "nuisance tax" imposed on every can of spray paint sold. The revenue could be used to repair some of the damaged buildings, and it would create badly needed jobs. It might even create paying jobs for the hoodlums who are doing the spray painting. There is good art and bad art. Bad art communicates bad feelings. I can't appreciate a wall defaced with spray paint even if the vandalism shows some artistic talent. The talented person responsible ought to be able to get a decent job as an illustrator, printer, or draftsman, or something else.

boblawrence eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with post number 5.  Graffiti is usually a form of vandalism that involves spray painting gang identifiers, slogans, threats or vulgarity.  It has no aesthetic value, and detracts from the environment in which it is found.

Occasionally Graffiti is executed in a place and manner that it evokes positive emotions, delivers a valuable message, and appeals to the eye.  In this case it is indeed an art form.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder".  Yet, in the case of distinguishing the two types of Graffiti to which I refer, I believe the types are easily identifiable by anyone.

Yes, there are true Graffiti artists...and we have all seen their work.  Unfortunately, there are also antisocial vandals who are responsible for most Graffiti seen in public places.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Yes, graffiti is an art form. Of course, painting graffiti on a wall or other area without authorization is a crime, or vandalism. That doesn't make it any less of an art form. If someone painted a traditional painting on the side of a building it would also be considered vandalism. Graffiti tends to get a bad reputation because it is the norm (rather than unusual) for it to be created in places where it is unwanted or criminal. However, graffiti isn't the only type of art that has been seen in a controversial light. May paintings and art displays have been seen in a negative light. There was even an entire movement in art where society decided that nudity was inappropriate; leaves were added to paintings and statues to cover any nudity that had been previously acceptable.
M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We recently offered our students a documentary of the foundations of graffiti art, the people behind it, and the reasons for its existence. It was actually quite an enriching and informational piece of media. Yes, graffiti IS an art form, but like any other art form, it can be misused and abused. If so, then it will be an art form used for the wrong purposes.

There are forms of graffiti art that really tell a story and are unique to the artist who creates it. However, the vulgar art that some gangs and other street individuals use for tagging has erroneously been categorized under the umbrella of graffiti, and that is a huge mistake.

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it depends on the specific piece of graffiti being discussed, but yes - many works of graffiti are art. defines graffiti as

markings, as initials, slogans, ordrawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on asidewalk, wall of a building or public restroom, or the like

The relationship between this definition and the definition of art listed in post 2 is fairly straightforward. Graffiti may be haphazard, random, destructive, and/or vulgar. It may also be creative, done with care and concern for visual effect, and evocative of great emotional reaction in the beholder.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Beauty (and art) is in the eye of the beholder.  It certainly can be, and usually is, although because of the frequent vandal nature of most graffiti, most people don't think of it in artistic terms.  There are several businesses in my city that I can think of off the top of my head that actually paid graffiti artists to paint murals on their wall facing the street 1) so they might not be "tagged" with random or gang graffiti and 2) because it helps them fit in with the urban neighborhood they are located in.  This is a pretty healthy endorsement of the art form, to me.

bigdreams1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think it IS an art form, however one has to be careful to not let graffitti turn into a crime. Defacing someone else's property without their permission with even the most beautiful tagging is vandalism, and perhaps trespassing. However, with the proper permissions, colorful graffitti in public areas which would otherwise be dull and lifeless can be beautiful.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that we have to distinguish between forms of graffiti.  I do not think that tagging is art because it is not meant to convey any idea beyond "I was here."  However, the more elaborate murals and such are really meant to be things of beauty and I would argue that they are art even if they really ought not be created in the places where they are created.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
Graffiti can be art if it's purpose is art, not destruction. Artists want to make their mark. Graffiti can be incredibly expressive and beautiful. It just depends on where it is and why it is there, and how much care has been put into it. Just scrawling your signature with a spray paint can is not art.
Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because art is subjective, I'm willing to consider graffiti as an art form; however, I am unwilling to see names and symbols which are clearly gang-related as art. I have, however, seen some stunning examples of artwork which would also qualify as graffiti.

kiwi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think that tagging is not art, although graffiti can be. The work of Banksy for example is internationally recognised. As long as the work is not invasive and has merit in communicating a valid message through images, form and colour.

Wiggin42 | Student

Art is a way of depicting reality, expressing yourself, and creating emotions in others through a creative medium. Considering that, graffiti is most definitely art. I don't think you have to be a Banksy for your graffiti to be considered art. People don't want to call it art because it defaces public property which makes them upset.

arrellbelle | Student

If you subtract the whole idea of 'graffiti vandalizes public property' and just look at it from the point of aesthetics, then of course, I would consider graffiti a form of art. It's exciting and different from other art mediums and it requires a certain control and history behind it. Graffiti has been around for quite a long time and it is evident in many cities that it prospers in this day and age. However, the negative connotations of Graffiti include the fact that it is performed on public property and that is where people get upset.

figlover | Student


But this controvery arose because people harmed the environment under the name of art. Graffitti is an art form and art never harm its surroundings. In that case, drawings that does harm are neither a graffitti nor an art form.

jbrenw | Student

Art is a form of expression, wether or not the message is a good one, and graffiti is definately a way to express yourself.

losangeles12 | Student

Not all graffiti is art, but anything could be art. Some of the most vital and dynamic art that's being done in the world today is based in the graffiti world.

missyanyan | Student

I also believe that it is a form of art as you are able to express yourself through 'tags'. Art is meant to be free and unrestricted without only one single idea or perspective which shows each indivdual's uniqueness.

janeblue | Student

If this is art than anything is.

bigman13 | Student

i believe that it is an art form because not everyone can do it it takes a certain skill to do it. I sure wish that i can do it. But i definitely think that it is an art you need the skills to do it. And it also involves color and different shapes and styles. If i may ask why did you ask this question.

yolospencer25 | Student

Yes cause art is a creative expression of the mind so poo poo thoose people who disagree

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