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

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


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.

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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.

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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!

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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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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?

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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.

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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 :)

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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:(

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Tina - Coordinator's picture
Tina - Coordinator 8 July, 2015 - 16:37

Hi Haliuna! Welcome to LearnEnglish Teens :)
Don't worry about your English! It is fantastic that you have joined us and are already writing comments ... keep up the good work!
Best wishes, Tina (LearnEnglish Teens Team)

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Ryo's picture
Ryo 22 May, 2015 - 10:20

i think the graffiti is a special art, we should be proud of them. I think so .... and you

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Neel's picture
Neel 29 April, 2015 - 07:24

Graffiti is surely a wonderful art,through which we can express our opinions about any issue. One can bring out the social and political dilemmas by drawing graffities,though it would be very difficult in my country,Bangladesh.

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KopilovasSchool9's picture
KopilovasSchool9 31 March, 2015 - 18:13

In my opinion graffiti is art. A lot of people express themselves through graffiti. Graffiti makes cities look bright and beautiful. I really like street art.

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PavlovaSchool9's picture
PavlovaSchool9 30 March, 2015 - 13:38

I guess, graffiti can't be seen as only something good or something bad. On the one hand, graffiti bears political and social messages or simply decorate cities. but on the other hand, cities look dirty and untidy.

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