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?


UkrainianGirl's picture
UkrainianGirl 1 April, 2013 - 07:47

Sometimes i see really beautiful graffiti, but often i see something like a rubbish.

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Anisa18's picture
Anisa18 30 March, 2013 - 15:02

i think graffiti is not very popular here in Albania.I would like to paint and to make fantastic graffiti

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Natalija's picture
Natalija 28 March, 2013 - 14:10

I hate graffiti. I think it's not art at all, but vandalism. Why should we ruin clean walls with some ugly sentences? Does it have any sense? We should always try to care about our surrounding, not to destroy it. My school was painted last summer, and than, the next day, emerged some ugly words on the walls. I think it's awful and I hate graffiti.

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franciutz's picture
franciutz 24 July, 2013 - 12:11

Hi Natalija
I totally agree with you because I hate the people that write ugly sentences on the walls and waste the cities, but have you ever seen any paintings of Felice VVarini, David Zinn, Bansky, Faith 47? When I first saw their masterpieces I was amazed. I think they don't "destroy the surrounding" but they simply make it more colourful :)

I suggest you to google the artists I told you before (or simply street art) and than tell me what you think about ;D

P.S.: sorry for my English :)

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JoEditor's picture
JoEditor 24 July, 2013 - 14:27

Hi franciutz,
Thanks for your great comments and welcome to LearnEnglish Teens! You don't need to say sorry for your English. You have a very good level and everybody here on our site is here to improve their English, so please don't worry! :)
Best wishes, Jo (LearnEnglish Teens Team) 

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Beauty2705's picture
Beauty2705 16 March, 2013 - 15:42

thanks for the amazing article...though I didn't read the whole article!... ;)

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Krash Dinema's picture
Krash Dinema 15 March, 2013 - 11:06

I Love Grafiti .. In fact always i draw my name in my copy books... I will start drawing in walls soon!! ^^

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ShaiqGenius's picture
ShaiqGenius 22 February, 2013 - 12:25

I like very much of Graffiti! This arte is in contact with all. All of see and think about. I like of the art of Banksy and the art of Os Gêmeos.

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megisiana's picture
megisiana 24 January, 2013 - 14:44

i like the graffiti but i don't like doing by myself .. it's interesting to see the walls in the road full with graffitti....... <3 <3

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jane tamissa's picture
jane tamissa 23 January, 2013 - 18:55

I think graffiti is a good way for express feelings, although I think tags are not impressive, because it's just a name, a picture on a wall has a big impact, it's more beautiful. It's a great way to show your opinion, if you do it well, but tags I don't really see the point on it.

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Natalie Smile's picture
Natalie Smile 8 January, 2013 - 12:55

Yeap, graffiti is an art of community so it shows real situauions, problems of people's life. It's worth progress!

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