Graffiti and street art isn't new. Find out about its history in this article.

The story of street art

Modern graffiti began in big cities in the United States in the 1970s. In New York, young people wrote their names, or 'tags', in pen on walls around the city.

One of the first 'taggers' was a teenager called Demetrius. His tag was TAKI 183. He wrote his tag on walls and in stations in New York. Other teenagers saw Demetrius's tag and started writing their tags too. Soon, there were tags on walls, buses and trains all over New York.

Then, some teenagers started writing their tags with aerosol paint. Their tags were bigger and more colourful. Aerosol paint graffiti became very popular in the 1970s and 1980s. It appeared on trains, buses and walls around the world.

In the 1990s and 2000s, a lot of graffiti artists started painting pictures. Some artists' pictures were about politics. Other artists wanted to make cities beautiful and painted big, colourful pictures on city walls.

Graffiti in galleries

In some countries, writing or painting on walls is a crime. Sometimes, graffiti artists have problems with the police. In other countries, artists can draw and paint in certain places. For example, in Taiwan, there are 'graffiti zones' where artists can paint on walls. In São Paulo in Brazil, street artists can paint pictures on walls and houses. Their pictures are colourful and beautiful. Some tourists visit São Paulo just to see the street art!

In Bristol in the UK, there is a street art festival in August every year. Artists paint all the buildings in a street. Lots of people come to watch the artists and take photos. You can see exhibitions of street art in some galleries too. There have been exhibitions of street art in galleries in Paris, London and Los Angeles.

Who are the artists?

Some street artists have become famous. Here are three stars of the street art world:

  • Os Gêmeos are twin brothers from São Paulo. They paint big, colourful pictures of people on buildings. In 2007, they painted a castle in Scotland!
  • Blek le Rat is from Paris. He is famous for painting pictures of homeless people in big cities.
  • Faith47 is from Cape Town in South Africa. She paints big, colourful pictures of people and animals. She likes painting in different places and you can find her work on pavements, postboxes, buses and, of course, on walls!

The future of street art

Many street artists use the internet to look at photos of street art from around the world. They communicate with other artists online and share ideas. Some street artists are famous and you can see their pictures in galleries. We don't know about the future of street art, but it is here to stay for sure!

Robin Newton

Total votes: 386
Language level: 


What do you think about graffiti? Is it really art?


robod's picture
robod 23 March, 2016 - 11:30

Graffity is very beautiful art in our life.Some people say that graffity is vandalism and crime because people hurt by this corrupt nature and the wall of the building.And they think that graffity is bed for health.As for me I think graffiti is really exquisite creations in our life.

75 users have voted.
Hansolo23213's picture
Hansolo23213 18 March, 2016 - 11:46

I believe that some graffiti are attractive. They decorate gray places. They cause positive emotions.
It can help really talented people to improve their art skills. It can help teenagers to show their feelings and to self a sure.
On the other hand graffiti is a kind of vandalism.Not all graffiti are so attractive,some of them are ugly.
They spoil some buildings especially private houses.So it deal really big damage for city.
Communal services spend really big money to repaint some buildings.

79 users have voted.
karp12's picture
karp12 24 March, 2016 - 16:32

So, I think graffiti was absolutely fantastic. It is radical, fun and feautiful. Graffiti gives colour to our grey city centres and holds more emotions. For somebode graffiti brings adrenaline. Graffiti is cool. It is really art.

27 users have voted.
Ollya's picture
Ollya 18 March, 2016 - 11:42

Graffiti is it very beautiful art,because when people draw graffiti they put soul and some people wont show yourself as a creative person,I think draw graffiti it is very hard work,because you should have a kind of picture of the world.
Best wishes Ollya)

30 users have voted.
Iruna's picture
Iruna 18 March, 2016 - 11:40

I think about graffiti is the most special art and i like this.Graffiti is very interesting art.When people paint they put soul.I like graffiti on the big wall.Graffities are really cool:)
Best wishes,Ira:)

30 users have voted.
t_korn_'s picture
t_korn_ 18 March, 2016 - 10:50

so,I think that is really art. Because a lot of graffiti is like a masterpieces.I think that is a good way to show your own.Some graffiti paints on buildings were nobody lives , so it decorate this buildings.But,so sad think,that graffiti is illegal.

32 users have voted.
joesir's picture
joesir 30 December, 2015 - 11:42

i think graffiti is beautiful ,it makes the city modern
yes,the walls of the streets in my city may have some graffiti
the graffiti may attract people to see
personally, i think the police should stop bad graffiti artists because their art works are ugly

25 users have voted.
joesir's picture
joesir 30 December, 2015 - 11:32

yes,because a lot of graffiti is beautiful, i think a beautiful painting that stays on the wall or other places is better than nothing on the wall.
they are mainly on the wall in back streets in hong kong.
the police shouldn't stop graffiti artists because it is an art and we should set up a graffiti zone to allow teenagers to draw, like Taiwan.

24 users have voted.
shamim's picture
shamim 27 December, 2015 - 19:20

Yes, that is an art, a really nice & conceptual art. In the past years some of street artists have painted pictures about war in various places until show war and its results to people in around the world about.

22 users have voted.
MerNoire's picture
MerNoire 1 December, 2015 - 17:04

Graffiti is so unusual and unique! There is a many interesting graffiti in my town. It looks very fresh and modern!

14 users have voted.
luzbel2002's picture
luzbel2002 29 September, 2015 - 14:38

the history was very pretty, I love how it arose the grafitty was fantastic also of as the big artists arose, very interesting the history I recommend them read it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

17 users have voted.
AracelyV12's picture
AracelyV12 28 September, 2015 - 15:06

What the grafitti is very beautiful, but in my city a every place you go to find a grafitti.
Yes, The Grafitti is really an art, because sign what the artist feels but in art.

14 users have voted.
AlessandroCT45's picture
AlessandroCT45 28 September, 2015 - 14:49

I thing the graffiti is truly an art long as we respect the integrity of artists because sometimes are arrested for exercising this art without permission and for which we must prevent this case, but I still think it's a futuristic art,and is very interesting and funny.

8 users have voted.
Ken's picture
Ken 22 September, 2015 - 17:18

Some graffities are really cool!
They ostensibly look easily-worked but their works are far ftom fabrication; definitely creative! Of course, not all though!
୧(๑ ⁼̴̀ᐜ⁼̴́๑)૭

17 users have voted.
gianggiang's picture
gianggiang 22 September, 2015 - 08:46

In Vietnam,graffti is only popular in big cities like Ho Chi MInh city or Hanoi- the capital of Viet nam. and i think graffti is really art . it has come to Vietnam for years. Sorry I only could write simply. It is a fact that I am very bad at writing. I am trying hard to improve my English. But In Vietnam, E exercises are always reading comprehension. What should I do?

10 users have voted.
iva10's picture
iva10 19 August, 2015 - 14:04

I think graffiti is realy great.It's art.Everything that we draw and make is art,so tehnicly graffiti is too.

17 users have voted.
CowsEatGrass's picture
CowsEatGrass 17 July, 2015 - 09:07

Graffiti is an unique art I think...My country is starting to catch on this trend,but it's still rare. Many graffiti zones are opened across the country and graffiti artists actually make the walls look colorful,distinctive and arty! Not just red blocks like before :)

15 users have voted.
Haliuna's picture
Haliuna 8 July, 2015 - 14:13

I think about gratti is the most special art and i like this. In my country allowed gratti but it's not devolep yet. I believe that the artists of my country will be draw the most beautifull gratti in the world. Then around the my country will appear gratti. Finally, I m sorry i know english a little:(

14 users have voted.