Graffiti is all around us. From walls to tubes, graffiti is used as a rebellious signal that someone was here, a way for teenagers to leave their mark on nights where they don’t have anything better to do.




Graffiti is not often recognised as an art form. Perhaps the only household name in the medium of graffiti is Banksy, whose art (uniquely) brings great wealth to the often impoverished areas in which he paints. However, this is very much the strong exception to the rule.


Graffiti is dismissed as mere vandalism.


But often graffiti is the only way for people to express themselves. The cheap, easily attainable spray paint and public spaces in place of canvases make it one of the most accessible art forms.


The preconceived notion that graffiti is ‘only a crime’, produced by delinquents ‘tagging’ smart central office buildings prevents people from appreciating the beauty of graffiti.


There are many places where graffiti is encouraged, and many spaces where artists can happily spray and stencil without fear of being reprimanded. Here, artists flourish in an environment that encourages all types of graffiti: artistic, political, tags.


Graffiti is such that, due to the often-illegal nature of the placement, the artist must be content with their work being removed or destroyed.


In legal graffiti areas, there are often many artists working at any time.


They acknowledge the temporary nature of their work, and outline the ‘code amongst thieves’ that they honour: “Yeah, you have to accept that if you’re painting here, it’ll probably be gone by the next time you come. As long as you leave it [another artist’s work] for a week or so, then it’s fair game.”


Graffiti has always been an easy way for people to spread their opinions; everything from political campaigns and messages to outraged protests have been presented in spray paint.


The striking nature of graffiti makes it an obvious choice to display a controversial opinion to the wider public, without the accountability that other avenues might bring with them.


The anonymous nature of graffiti, stemming primarily from the illegal placement, makes it an even more powerful tool.


You judge graffiti based on the messages, images and colours it presents to you, not by the artist who conceptualised and completed the work.


The controversial art is carried out by people of all ages, all backgrounds: anyone can make an impact. This is vitally important in a society that judges worth by the group you belong to.


Graffiti is not meant to make you famous, or wealthy, or popular; it is intended as a message for onlookers, not the indervidual.


In a capitalist society, everything we do has personal gain as a motive. Respect, money, fame.


Graffiti is completed by an anonymous individual and left behind for everyone else to look at, think about, judge.


The illegalities even brings with it varying levels of risk for the artist, making it an almost selfless act.


Graffiti is, essentially, the most selfless art there is.