Graffiti as an Artform
The value of any message or work of art, whether it is hanging on the wall of a gallery or a subway, lies on the intensity of the artist’s or vandal’s beliefs. Graffiti is an uncertain issue in respect to its virtue. While the voice of the individual must never be lost in a society of shouts growing larger and louder every second; graffiti is such a public medium that its integrity must be of great concern. Graffiti is a vast wasteland of indefinite opinions. Foremost graffiti is illegal and a form of vandalism, it invades peoples privacy and destroys their property. However, graffiti can be a means by which one may permanently express one’s self. It has the potential to convey a powerful, relevant message. Therefore the merit of graffiti is dependant on the circumstances present, how it affects society, and the purpose for which it is created.
Graffiti serves several different purposes; it is a marker serving as proof of identity for some individuals, for others it is a form of vulgar recreation. The wall of one building may serve as a public record, a confessional and an art gallery at the same time. The most dejected application of graffiti is illustrated in the story of a High School student, Katy Lyle, who was emotionally traumatized by the presence of disgraceful, fictional writing transcribed on the wall of the boy’s bathroom pertaining to her sex life. This case clearly shows the damaging effects of graffiti as the crude remarks ripped her social life apart. The writing was completely void of worth, its intentions were to simply single out and destroy the individual to which it pertained. A similar incident occurred at Brown University as a list of notorious rapists was written on the wall of a bathroom exaggerated into an anti-testosterone billboard. These are not acts of expression they are personal attacks administered in a manner favorable to feelings of helplessness and pain. Even legitimate complaints about the behavior of some individuals should not be expressed in this manner, they are to be judged within the walls of a courtroom not on the walls of a bathroom.
Another reason why people engage in graffiti is to shape their identities. They wish to leave a mark in a permanent environment exclaiming to the rest of the world that they exist, that even though their voices may be lost before politicians, parent, and peers they are real and the spraypaint is proof of this. This form of graffiti is easily passed off as mere vandalism and considered an annoyance to our society but when viewed with more compassion, it becomes clearer how important of an outlet this form of graffiti is. Especially for today’s youth (a generation that often feels insignificant) it is psychologically important for them to have solid, material evidence of their own existence. Correlated with identity-based graffiti is another type called tagging. Tagging refers to types of graffiti that “range from...