Graffiti has been in existence in varied form over the past centuries. This art is believed to have originated from the ancient Roman who carved graffiti on walls and monuments, and it later to spread to other parts of the world over time. Graffiti may be defined as drawings or writings that have been illegally been drawn or prayed on a wall of a building or any other surface in public place, (Weisel 2006, p210). Graffiti has undergone a lot of changes and development over the years. An art is described as being an expression of human creativity and imagination in visual form or production of works which can be appreciated because of their beautiful outlook. Art is mainly used to convey ideas or information in a creative way through self-expression of the artist who is involved in creating it. According to Bingham and Jane (2010, p914), different forms of graffiti have been of great use in getting an insight into the lifestyles of people who lived in the past. In the same book, the author explains the different types of graffiti which include: gang, a form less artistic and usually carrying message of threat or territory; mural, large masterpieces which are artistically motivated; tagging, which are highly visible and artistic names of taggers. Recently, many governments have come up with anti-graffiti laws to help curb this art. This paper is mainly devoted to the examination of graffiti as an art.
Graffiti has been a means used by artists to present their ideas, thoughts and explore their creativity. There has been an argument about whether graffiti is really an art due to the negative perceptions it has received from various quarters. However, an in-depth observation of the features of art may be used to address the above argument. This paper is therefore devoted to the examination of some of the features of an art and uses them to analyze the categorization of graffiti as an art. The features to be used will include; skill and craft, functions of an art and value.
To begin with, graffiti involves skill and craft. In a recent study by Uschan (2011, p20), he describes graffiti as an art that involves a sense of trained ability. It involves efficient use of language to pass message or meaning. Graffiti artistes use their skill to express their feeling and thoughts. For example, a street graffiti artiste may use his skill to pass on a message on what they feel about the system of governance. Most graffiti works portray a high level of creativity, which is an important aspect of art. Graffiti artists use different lettering styles to express themselves. These letters are usually manipulated by addition of characters like curls and styling. Some of these styles include; bubble style, simple wavy, jagged styles and hook ups. Production of any artistic work requires possession of skill which is common in many graffiti. In these modern times, spray paints are widely used as the main graffiti materials. In order to grow this art, graffiti artists ought to avoid painting the walls of other people’s properties, since this constitutes a crime which is punishable by law in many countries.
In addition, graffiti serves the same functions as any other art. Throughout history, graffiti has been used for different functions. Some of these functions of graffiti are motivated by certain concepts while others are not. Examples of graffiti motivated by some concept perform the functions of concept include those that act as a form of entertainment, communicates message to people and those that are used to create awareness for a variety of causes, (Pereira 2005, p73). During the past, a number of graffiti has been used to create awareness on a wide range of subjects like diseases, political and even education. For example, a graffiti artist may come up with a piece of work in order to demystify the causes of infections of HIV/AIDS and bring into light the facts about the disease. Bingham (2010, p402) asserts that since the purpose of the word ‘graffiti’ is to write; hence graffiti can be described as an instinctual need for passing across a message. Street art is closely related to graffiti and graphic design and illustration. Street artistes use painting, drawings or stickers to create their work. As a result, graffiti wholly qualifies to be categorized as an art. The functions that are not motivated include an expression of imagination of an artiste, used as a form of decoration. In history, this work of art has been extensively used to bring about changes in political systems, to comment on social aspects of societies, to convey certain emotions and also to illustrate other disciplines.
Graffiti also possess value. Value is an important aspect of any piece of art. The value of graffiti is what gives it its worth of subjectivity, (Pereira 2005, p73). The author also asserts that graffiti is a quality work of art and goes ahead to elaborate on the same. Many schools of thoughts have argued about quality and defined it in different ways. However, in all those arguments, one thing is common; a quality piece of art needs to be appealing aesthetically to a majority of the audience. The quality of graffiti mainly is affected by the perception of the person providing the judgment of it, (Brown 2009, p30). This perception is shaped by the aesthetic nature of that piece of art. For example, a given piece of graffiti produced to portray an underlying message may be perceived differently by different people. They may all capture its aesthetic nature in different ways. Similarly, art is usually used to put the judgment of value into practice. For one to make the judgment on value he/she is required to come up with a strong basis for criticism. Therefore, what is not satisfying aesthetically cannot be referred to as an art. Survey results conducted in the United States of America among eight sates shows that majority of the public dislike tagging but find a positive value in street art, .
Graffiti is a form of art, which if appropriately used, may result into many positive effects on the lives of the society. People who are skilled in this art should be encouraged to embrace healthy ways of expressing their ideas or thoughts without getting on the wrong side with the law. However, due to the growing environmental concerns, graffiti artists should come up with more creative and environmentally-friendly ways of expressing their arts. This is because these spray paints contain toxic chlorofluorocarbons gases which are used in painting and have negative effects on the environment like global warming.