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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Discussion

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

Comments

Torvinenschool9's picture
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Torvinenschool9 19 March, 2015 - 18:33

I consider that graffiti is art. That decorate the streets, making the city less boring

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Torvinenschool9's picture
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Torvinenschool9 19 March, 2015 - 18:31

I believe that graffiti is art. That decorate the streets, making the city less boring

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TblMOEschool9's picture
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TblMOEschool9 19 March, 2015 - 17:47

I think, that with one hand graffiti is beautiful and colourful artwork, but on the other hand It is seen as vandalism in the eyes of the law. I want to learn to draw graffiti.

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Uliaschool9's picture
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Uliaschool9 19 March, 2015 - 16:20

I think graffiti is an unique way to transmit the message to society.
Also, this kind of art looks very nice.

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joserenatos's picture
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joserenatos 19 February, 2015 - 19:52

In brazil in São Paulo, I had opportunity to know the work of "Gemeos". I think very creative graffiti and left some beuatiful buildings giving a new color to city

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Jo - Coordinator's picture
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Jo - Coordinator 23 February, 2015 - 10:27

Hi joserenatos,
Thanks for your comment on LearnEnglish Teens. I am replying because it seems you may be over 18. If you are over 18, please join LearnEnglish: http://learnenglish.britishcouncil.org/en/
You are welcome to continue using LearnEnglish Teens but please note that commenting is only for 13-17 year olds.
Thanks and good luck with your English!
Best wishes,
Joanna

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Tunisian123's picture
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Tunisian123 16 February, 2015 - 18:34

It is my hobby...i really love Grafitti..it makes me draw what are my feelings..i always draw on walls specially my city's walls...so that's make popuplar in my city !!! :)

Nada,Tunisia

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misscurious's picture
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misscurious 13 June, 2014 - 12:16

I love graffiti but unfortunately in my country there are a lot of graffiti on walls that seems absolutely awful. Teenagers, who dont know anything about art, are just doodling walls.

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peterpangck 13 April, 2014 - 10:24

My dog was killed by someone using poisonous dart last week. In my country, there is no law sanctioning such incident, except, possibly within the jurisdiction of the properties crime. I was extremly sad and angry, but I had no resolution whatsoever. I myself decided to draw graffiti on the wall warning the dog owners about the dog killer. From my point of view, graffitti is not just an art. It is an instrument of justice.

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Acelorus's picture
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Acelorus 24 March, 2014 - 12:56

I think graffiti is a way to express yourself. Graffiti I think is the most beautiful art.

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dzeni's picture
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dzeni 15 March, 2014 - 13:30

I really like graffiti, they are great and they often make some part of town more pretty. Unluckily in my town there are also stupid and shameful graffiti.
I think it`s art because if it isn`t art, what is it?

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Lucia.M's picture
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Lucia.M 5 February, 2014 - 14:28

Also in my school ( an artistic school) there is a day when the students can draw graffiti on panels.

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Lucia.M's picture
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Lucia.M 5 February, 2014 - 14:25

I like graffiti. I think they are a nice form to visual art, they give color to the city, but the artists must not draw on the monuments. It is better have "graffiti zone".

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