Graffiti: crime or culture?
When you say the word “graffiti”, some people think of big, beautiful and colourful artwork whilst others think of mess that make our towns and cities look untidy and badly-maintained. Graffiti is art that is painted on walls and other public places. It is most often made with spray paint, which comes in a can. However, graffiti can be made with any type of paint or other material. Some people use real paint to make their art.
Graffiti can vary from a small “tag”; someone’s name written on a wall, to a very large mural, which covers a whole wall. Graffiti is much more common in urban areas. The artists argue that without graffiti, cities would just be grey and boring. Those who do not like graffiti say that it makes the city look messy. Some people also link graffiti to anti-social behaviour and gang culture.
Graffiti often has a social or political message which it shows in pictures or words or both. A famous British graffiti artist called “Banksy” creates street-art with very clear messages for society. His art is usually made with stencils and spray paint and often reverses the normal roles people have in society.
In the United Kingdom graffiti is illegal. People can be fined a lot of money if they are caught decorating public property. However, some towns and cities have “free walls,” these are places where graffiti is legal. “Free walls” are created to stop people doing graffiti in other places. In Colombia, graffiti is very popular even though it is illegal too. Lots of young people have the attitude that if there is a blank wall then an artist has the right to decorate it with graffiti. Lots of people get into trouble with the police because of this. In Colombia, graffiti often represents indigenous people and culture, but it is still seen as vandalism in the eyes of the law.