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Graffiti: Art Vs. Vandalism

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Nadia Baten

Ms. Yeater 

English 8

29 September 2016

Graffiti: Art vs. Vandalism

Is graffiti truly art? Some may argue that graffiti is vandalism, while others disagree, and say that graffiti is an art. Graffiti is most definitely an art. When citizens see graffiti sprayed on walls, most people’s reactions isn't to sought out the artist so they can compliment them on their creativity or skills. Nobody seems to be motivated by graffiti, or street art. Graffiti is an art, whether on walls, train cars, or buildings.

Art is defined as the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination. That is exactly what graffiti is. Graffiti images or writing pieces are expressed on walls, bathroom stalls, or even sidewalks. It has to be an art. Graffiti has been around for centuries. It has even been around since the paleolithic cavemen days, expressed as cave art, and even used by the ancient Romans. During these time periods in ancient history, the very first style of writing and storytelling by natives or by cavemen were through drawings on walls. Stories and events were preserved on rocks or walls were then passed down to generation to generation. And for the Roman times, they would claim their territory, or their newly conquered land, by drawing on town buildings. Now, in modern times, gangs will do the same exact thing; yet some people will still classify this as vandalism and as “wrong”.

Many argue that art has to be appealing to the eye. “Calling an art form “ugly” is just an opinion. If someone called the Mona Lisa or Starry Night ugly, would that not make it an art?” (Lloyd, para.6). They will always be art forms, no matter the opinion. Graffiti is just like that. Many also use graffiti as an excuse to call their town or city “ugly” or “poor”, but graffiti gives cities a different flare of depth. It gives an out for people who need to express their emotions, ideas, and creativity. The author of “Graffiti or Street Art? Negotiating the Moral Geographies of the Creative City” said that, “Graffiti in its various forms has become a perennial feature of life at the edges of the contemporary city” (McAluffie, pg. 2). Therefore, calling graffiti “an ugly piece of vandalism” is an extremely uneducated statement. It is an everlasting variable of cities and towns; graffiti is a factor that cannot be taken out of urban lives. In large cities, for example, San Francisco, New York City, and Boston, graffiti is the way of life. One glimpse of these murals or even just walking the streets of major cities, can be inspiring.

Graffiti also takes a massive amount of time and effort. If one saw graffiti in the making their minds would be blown. Graffiti is a difficult art to master; graffiti artists are gifted and talented so why should they be jailed for so-called vandalizing? Many of those talented graffiti artists are in jail because they tried to show people their art skills and express their feelings. How does jailing a person for something that they feel passionate about, nor is the act harming anyone, make sense? These young artists are actually helping our world and generation. People in the future would learn so much about our generation and life style. Just from these artworks that people call ‘vandalism’ would actually help our generation.


People who try to prove that graffiti is vandalism by applying it to ourselves, and our property, sound very biased and uneducated. This is because not everyone lives in an area where graffiti is prominent. So asking that “if your home was tagged during the night, without permission, would you be okay with it or would you paint over it?” ( MacDonald, para.1), is a simple-minded inquisition because it does not apply to everyone. According to graffiti artists, painting over an art piece is “it's the worst thing to have someone write over you, it means they didn't respect your art” (Farell, para.18). Painting over legitimate artwork is extremely inconsiderate and rude. 

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