GRAFFITI: A VISUAL DIALOUGE
Graffiti: term applied to the arrangement of institutionally illicit marks in which there has been an attempt by an individual or group of individuals (usually not professional artists) to display upon a wall or surface that is usually visually accessible to the public. Even if one has never seen graffiti before, a negative image would probably
pop into one’s mind after reading this definition. Graffiti is not only a work of art, it also includes the underground culture that surrounds and reveres that art. Graffiti has been found in early societies, but is most commonly associated with modern, urban environments.
Modern Graffiti originated in the 1970’s, just as the hip-hop scene began to explode. The first modern graffiti artist—referred to as a writer, lived in New York City, and had the nickname Tacki 183. Tacki 183 was responsible for creating an underground artistic revolution that has influenced popular culture. Graffiti has spread across America and over seas. Some of the most widely revered writers come from Germany, England, and Italy. Even at its inception, graffiti was considered illegal. It was thought to be vandalism at the time, and it still is today.
Even though graffiti has gained massive popularity and acceptance, many people are still ignorant about what it actually is. Not all graffiti is gang-related. Some gangs use graffiti to mark territory or to post threats. Gang graffiti accounts for an estimated 5% of all graffiti. Many public officials feel that if the walls and streets are bare, they must be safe. This mentality is not only ignorant, but it is also unsupported. Gang-related graffiti was more popular in the past. But because of its pseudo-affiliation with gang activity, police crack down hard on writers. Writers can face fines and even jail time for expressing themselves with spray paint. The tactic many police departments employ to stop graffiti is to paint over graffiti-ridden walls. Little do they know that this only provides a blank wall for other writers, and often has little or no affect.
Because graffiti is illegal, writers must choose to cover their identities with a nickname. Some of the more famous Atlanta area writers are Crisis, Haze, and Rem. Writers often go to drastic measures to create what they call “pieces”. The term piece is derived from the word “masterpiece”. A large piece can take 5-10 hours to
complete. Although most graffiti is considered illegal, a few legal yards exist. A yard is a popular place to create graffiti. A yard could be a parking deck, abandoned warehouse, freight train yard, or a basketball court. The graffiti community looks down upon and condemns writing on private property like a home, school, or store. This is more along the lines of vandalism, and it makes the entire graffiti...