Lesson #92: Graffiti is not Art

Lesson 92 is one of our 100 Lessons Kids Should Learn Special Report that can be found by clicking HERE

Graffiti has been around since man first started banging a rock on a cave wall.  It was a way to record and communicate in the most simplest of ways.  Graffiti today has been called the poor man’s billboard, the voice of a frustrated community and the everyday man’s form of creative expression.  I call it crap.

I’ve been an artist pretty well all my life.  Sold my first illustration at the age of 17 and even went to art school which is why you might find some pretty pictures on this website.  I appreciate the work of the masters and the creativity of modern day artists who commit their lives to producing something that makes people think, discover and appreciate what the artist is trying to say.  I especially appreciate the technical aspect of art.  How did the masters create such color, shadowing and contrasts with a mixture of nothing more than oil, egg whites and fruits?  How does Escher create a picture inside a picture inside a picture, or how does the work of the Group of Seven make you feel like you are standing on the banks of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario?

Murals are works of art that have been commissioned by the owner of the building they are on.  In most cases they depict the community or a former way of life.  Many celebrate community leaders, local heroes and special occasions.  These colorful creations add to the community.  Graffiti doesn’t.

Graffiti usually involves someone’s nickname in large letters and a lot of misspellings.  Some have interesting color schemes and effects but it always looks like it has more to do with luck than knowledge.  Many have artistic skill but it will never improve unless they take a few lessons and that’s where the problem lies.  Most are not educated and have no interest in taking the time and effort to attend a course or even school while those who are interested cannot afford the fees.

Graffiti is a crime in most if not all cities.  It’s more vandalism than artistic expression and when caught, the “artists” should be responsible for removing the damage they have done.  That would be in the form of either paying the cost to have it professionally removed OR having them clean the mess themselves PLUS a fine to discourage them from doing it again.

Here is my suggestion:  Art schools, groups or associations that receive public funding must offer a number of spots available to those who cannot afford it or are convicted by the courts of creating graffiti.  They may even discover other artistic mediums that don’t involve a spray can.  Charcoal, oil and water paint, sculpting, iron work and even woodworking are other great ways to artistically communicate.  This type of training will ideally give them the skills, confidence and hopefully the initiative to continue with their art and pursue a new career.   Once trained, they can feature their work in public exhibitions and possibly earn a living.

Art is an important part of every society and graffiti is not art.  Directing these people to be real artists will make the community more vibrant, colorful, exciting and clean.    



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