Modern art or vandalism? Whatever you think about street art, you'll learn more by reading this article.

A long history

Painting and writing on walls is nothing new. In prehistoric times, people in Africa and Europe painted pictures of animals and people in caves. Graffiti has been found at ancient sites in Greece, Italy, Syria and Iraq. In the Roman town of Pompeii in Italy, archaeologists found a lot of graffiti written in Latin, including political and romantic messages, and even some magic spells!

Modern times

In the 1970s, young people in New York used pens to write their names, or 'tags', on walls around the city. One of the first 'taggers' was Demetrius, a teenager from a Greek family. Demetrius's tag was TAKI 183. TAKI was his nickname and 183 was the number of the street where he lived – 183rd Street. At first, he wrote his tag on walls in his neighbourhood. Then he started writing it in subway stations on the way to school. When the subway train stopped at a station, he jumped off, wrote his 'tag' on the wall and then jumped back on the train before the doors closed. Other teenagers saw Demetrius's tag and started writing their own tags on walls, buses and subway trains all over New York: Barbara 62, Joe 182 ...

Then, some teenagers stopped using pens and started using aerosol paints. Their tags were bigger and more colourful. Aerosol paint graffiti became very popular in the 1970s and 1980s and appeared on trains, buses and walls around the world. In the 1990s and 2000s, a lot of graffiti artists started to make pictures too. Some artists were interested in politics and tried to make people think about social problems and discrimination with their pictures. Other artists wanted to make cities more beautiful. In South America, street artists started painting in poor areas. They brought colour and beauty to grey, city walls.

Art or vandalism?

Is graffiti art or vandalism? In many countries, it is a crime to paint on walls and street artists can have problems with the police. In other countries, street art is permitted in certain places. For example, in Taiwan, there are 'graffiti zones' where artists are free to paint and write on walls. In São Paulo in Brazil, the city council allows some graffiti artists to paint on the city's subway trains.

Nowadays, street art is more popular with the public. In some cities, there are street art festivals. 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. Street art can be seen in 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 identical twin brothers from São Paulo. They paint huge, colourful pictures of people on buildings. In 2007, they painted a castle in Scotland.
  • Blek le Rat is from France. He started off painting rats on the walls of Paris. Nowadays, he paints pictures of homeless people in big cities. He wants city residents to look at his pictures and think about the homeless.
  • Faith47 is from Cape Town in South Africa. She paints big, colourful pictures of people and animals. She likes painting in different locations and you can find her pictures on pavements, postboxes, buses, cars and, of course, on walls!

Street art and the global village

Most street artists are young people who paint in their home city or neighbourhood. Many of them use the internet to communicate and share photos of their pictures with other street artists around the world. Some street artists have become famous and their pictures can be seen in galleries or on city walls around the world. Although we don’t know what will happen to street art in the future, we can be sure that it is here to stay!

Robin Newton

Total votes: 222
Language level: 

Discussion

Is there a lot of graffiti on the streets where you live? Do you like it or hate it?

Comments

Hao1998 Sandwich is Nice's picture
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Hao1998 Sandwic... 23 February, 2013 - 04:53

Graffiti is a kind of art created for people without any work to do. Because nowadays people have stress and have no time to do graffiti. But graffiti is nice... Graffiti artists should show their faces for god to know... Graffiti is not vandalism if it actually benefits the society by making people less stress and have less suicidal thoughts.
Sometimes graffiti artists who have nothing better to do write their tags beside their tags beside their tags... Which makes no sense. why don't they draw stuff instead of writing tags? I don't want to see how beautiful your TAG is... it's the art, not the tags. =.=

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34 users have voted.
Diamond's picture
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Diamond 23 February, 2013 - 04:52

Graffiti is an art, because usually graffiti artists draw so many pictures on the wall, and sometimes they make a 3d picture on the wall. Graffiti can be very nice and sometimes very bad, because usually graffiti artists use a bad word on it and that’s a bad one, and a good one is if graffiti artist draw smoothing that can make people care about homeless. And graffiti is cool too.

We should give them some space for them drawing n decorate the wall, without disturb anyone. And it must be creative and without using bad word or something like that.

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31 users have voted.
liau wei hou's picture
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liau wei hou 23 February, 2013 - 04:52

it is cool,graffiti is a amazing art. And it is a popular in every country especially in England and it is famous artist call Banksy. Malaysia is cool too but people thinks its vandalism. During the year of 1970 graffiti has become famous.In Malaysia we have many beautiful graffiti example in the pasar seni the goverment allow them to piant on the wall and it is very beautiful.

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32 users have voted.
paradiseee's picture
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paradiseee 23 February, 2013 - 04:50

I think graffiti is more like art because its colorful and nice and meaningful but, graffiti is sometimes vandalism if the artist draws something that makes no sense.

Graffiti artist should get a place for them to express themselves and also they should be respectful to the city. The people who vandalize the city should be fined.

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11 users have voted.
nurina_12's picture
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nurina_12 23 February, 2013 - 04:48

I think graffiti is an inappropriate activity to do .I think graffiti is an art but I don’t like the bad words. Sometimes, when some tourists come to our country and see those horrible graffities, maybe they’ll look down on us but some of the graffities might inspire them. Some artists just paint without knowing whose wall it is. Some people will angry with them.

My suggestion is the government should make some places for the artists to paint and draw. They also should give those artist licences for it or else they will be sent to prison.

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13 users have voted.
ilovecats's picture
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ilovecats 23 February, 2013 - 04:48

- it is art - if it is colorful and beautiful. Art can be anything ( abstract, still life, etc) but it is vandalism if their are "bad" writings on the wall.
Graffiti makes a city more lively and more colorful. There are special zones in the city where graffiti artist can paint whatever they want. But it must be good and beautiful.
if their are 'tags' in the walls with bad words it is vandalism. Vandalism can make a city look dirty and can give a person a clue that the city have high crime.

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11 users have voted.
Tsuki's picture
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Tsuki 23 February, 2013 - 04:48

Graffiti Art is some kind of painting with nice art and some nice writing. Vandalism is some kind of painting with ugly art and some ugly handwriting with are rude. Beside that, Graffiti Art is always some kind of bright colours and they will be really colourful, cheerful and colourful. On the opposite, Vandalism is always some kind of dark colours. We should give chance to artist who are creative of Graffiti Art to make more arts so we should give them a place to draw and we should send those Vandalism to prison. Lastly, I think Graffiti Art is better than Vandalism.

Make a graffiti zone so they don’t have a problem with police. Fine few hundred to those who make graffiti with a bad word. After few months the government should paint the wall so that other graffiti artist have chance to make their own graffiti. Government should make a graffiti carnival every
years.

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11 users have voted.
xDevilx's picture
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xDevilx 23 February, 2013 - 04:46

Graffiti is a type of art for me. It's colorful and fantastic. Government should give them a special place to show their talent and skill. So that other places will have many tourist to visit and take photo of it. But for me some are vandalism because they write bad words and some ugly image causes the environment looks bad and dirty. Government should give them a special licence or permit for them to draw at a special place.

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11 users have voted.
aishamary5657's picture
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aishamary5657 23 February, 2013 - 04:46

To us graffiti is art its not really vandalism but if you do graffiti on people’s personal property it is a crime to do so….

Graffiti artist should have a special place to do their art and they shall not write bad words that may offend some people and the police will fine the graffiti artist who vandalise their property.
People should not sue the graffiti artist unless they destroy their property.

The government should help the graffiti artist to buy their supplies, and should open a gallery for them so other people can see their artwork.
so it depend to the graffiti artist whether it's art or vandalism :)

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13 users have voted.
s4ra.'s picture
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s4ra. 23 February, 2013 - 04:43

i think that graffiti depnds on how the artists draw it. If its colourful and has a good meaning, then that graffiti is consider as art. But if its just tagging, it is a vandalism.

We should catch those artist that are just tagging or writing something that is meaningless, the police should fine them. But for the good artist we should give them a place to draw and expend their creativity.

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14 users have voted.
zandy's picture
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zandy 23 February, 2013 - 02:56

Graffiti is art and is also vandalism.It depends on the person who used it for a good ways or bad ways.i like graffiti because it is interesting.

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12 users have voted.
alya's picture
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alya 23 February, 2013 - 02:56

Is graffiti art or vandalism?
- Alya: if graffiti is colourful and beautiful, its an art. But if they write bad word it is a vandalism

What should we do with graffiti artists?
- Alya: I think the governments need to give the artist a license for them so that they can do it

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11 users have voted.
PurpleApple's picture
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PurpleApple 23 February, 2013 - 02:55

I think Graffiti Art is some kind of painting with nice art and some nice writing. Vandalism is some kind of painting with ugly art and some ugly handwriting with are rude. Beside that, Graffiti Art is always some kind of bright colours and they will be really colourful, cheerful and colourful. On the opposite, Vandalism is always some kind of dark colours. We should give chance to artist who are creative of Graffiti Art to make more arts so we should give them a place to draw and we should send those Vandalism to prison. Lastly, I think Graffiti Art is better than Vandalism

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11 users have voted.
Yao Yao's picture
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Yao Yao 23 February, 2013 - 02:52

Is GRAFFITI art or vandalism?

Chantelle~I also think graffiti is art. But graffiti also can be vandalism. Some naughty teenagers just write some bad words on the wall.

What should we do with graffiti artists??

Chantelle~The government must paint the wall for some artist or teenagers to draw some beautiful drawing.

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14 users have voted.
Doctor 19's picture
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Doctor 19 23 February, 2013 - 02:49

Some are art some are vandalism, it depends on what is it about. If it creative I would say it’s an art, but when it contain something bad like swearing it consider as vandalism. Graffiti make something colourful and beautiful. It makes people enjoy looking at it. Some people don’t like graffiti because it’s they its bad. But I like graffiti because in my opinion it’s very creative and interesting

Make a graffiti zone so they don’t have a problem with police. Fine few hundred to those who make graffiti with a bad word. After few months the government should paint the wall so that other graffiti artist have chance to make their own graffiti. Government should make a graffiti carnival every
years.

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11 users have voted.
nnisa's picture
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nnisa 23 February, 2013 - 02:48

sometimes graffiti is vandalism because they use bad words. But some Graffiti is art because they draw a beautiful painting.

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11 users have voted.
Chang's picture
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Chang 23 February, 2013 - 02:46

I think graffiti is a type of art.Most of the graffiti is beautiful,but sometimes people use it as vandalism.I think the government should have a graffiti zones to allowed anyone to paint on the walls.

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11 users have voted.
Lexis's picture
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Lexis 23 February, 2013 - 02:46

Is GRAFFITI art or vandalism?

Alexis~I think graffiti is sometimes art but sometimes vandalism, it depends on the artist whether he or she is drawing beautiful artworks or just dirty language.

What should we do with graffiti artists??

Alexis~ For my opinion, I think that the government should give a certain place for the teens or any other artists to paint. Also I think the government should fine some graffiti artists that paints bad writings or paint bad pictures.

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12 users have voted.
R.O.O.N.E.Y's picture
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R.O.O.N.E.Y 23 February, 2013 - 02:42

I think it is an art because it makes a wall look beautiful and many people like it. We should make an area for the artists to draw. The Government should paint the walls back every 6 months.

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12 users have voted.
iceprincess's picture
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iceprincess 23 February, 2013 - 02:42

Graffiti Art is a very beautiful painting or writing . Depends on what peoples thinking , vandalism is a very rude way of writing and painting. Vandalism always contains rude words , awful painting and dark colours. But Graffiti art are very colourful , nice picture that paint by creative or professional artist . Rude peoples or bad teenagers will prefer vandalism more than art . In my opinion , I think Graffiti is Art . We should not send those graffiti artist to prison , but we should really fine those vandalism artist . Lastly, I think we should have a graffiti zones like Taiwan in Malaysia .

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11 users have voted.
crazeeegurl's picture
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crazeeegurl 23 February, 2013 - 02:40

Graffiti art could be a talent or vandalism.if u do it in a good way,its like decorating your country...If you used swearing or drawn not in a creative way...it could be considered bad and the deserve fine or jail!!! For the ones who drawn in a creative way without swearings or bad influence stuff ,you could organise a contest for nationals and internationals.

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12 users have voted.
BC 1 MALAYSIA Teens's picture
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BC 1 MALAYSIA Teens 23 February, 2013 - 02:35

Graffiti is a part of an art. The government should make a place for vandalism to paint graffiti on the wall or the floor, so the place would be attracted by the tourist. Sometimes, places like in Hong Kong can't paint graffiti because it is illegal.

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16 users have voted.
Ayecha BS's picture
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Ayecha BS 27 November, 2012 - 19:02

There are many things written at the walls in my city, but I think in this case isn't street art but it's vandalism. However i like so much street art and graffiti.

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11 users have voted.

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