Graffiti
Overview
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property.
Graffiti is any type of public markings that may appear in the forms of simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.

In modern times, paint, particularly spray paint
Aerosol paint
Aerosol paint is a type of paint that comes in a sealed pressurized container and is released in a fine spray mist when depressing a valve button. A form of spray painting, aerosol paint leaves a smooth, evenly coated surface, unlike many rolled or brushed paints. Standard sized cans are portable,...

, and marker pen
Marker pen
thumb|MarkerA marker pen, marking pen, felt-tip pen, flow or marker, is a pen which has its own ink-source, and usually a tip made of a porous, pressed fibres; such as felt or nylon.-Permanent marker:...

s have become the most commonly used graffiti materials.
Encyclopedia
Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched, scrawled, painted or marked in any manner on property.
Graffiti is any type of public markings that may appear in the forms of simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece
Ancient Greece is a civilization belonging to a period of Greek history that lasted from the Archaic period of the 8th to 6th centuries BC to the end of antiquity. Immediately following this period was the beginning of the Early Middle Ages and the Byzantine era. Included in Ancient Greece is the...

 and the Roman Empire
Roman Empire
The Roman Empire was the post-Republican period of the ancient Roman civilization, characterised by an autocratic form of government and large territorial holdings in Europe and around the Mediterranean....

.

In modern times, paint, particularly spray paint
Aerosol paint
Aerosol paint is a type of paint that comes in a sealed pressurized container and is released in a fine spray mist when depressing a valve button. A form of spray painting, aerosol paint leaves a smooth, evenly coated surface, unlike many rolled or brushed paints. Standard sized cans are portable,...

, and marker pen
Marker pen
thumb|MarkerA marker pen, marking pen, felt-tip pen, flow or marker, is a pen which has its own ink-source, and usually a tip made of a porous, pressed fibres; such as felt or nylon.-Permanent marker:...

s have become the most commonly used graffiti materials. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner's consent is considered defacement and vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

, which is a punishable crime.
Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles. Within hip hop culture, graffiti has evolved alongside hip hop music
Hip hop music
Hip hop music, also called hip-hop, rap music or hip-hop music, is a musical genre consisting of a stylized rhythmic music that commonly accompanies rapping, a rhythmic and rhyming speech that is chanted...

, b-boying
B-boying
B-boying, often called "breakdancing", is a popular style of street dance that was created and developed as part of hip-hop culture among African Americans and Latino youths in New York City. The dance consists of four primary elements: toprock, downrock, power moves and freezes...

, and other elements. Unrelated to hip-hop graffiti, gangs use their own form of graffiti to mark territory or to serve as an indicator of gang-related activities.

Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials/law enforcement and writers who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. There are many different types and styles of graffiti and it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested, reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.

Etymology

Graffiti and graffito are from the Italian word graffiato ("scratched"). "Graffiti" is applied in art history
Art history
Art history has historically been understood as the academic study of objects of art in their historical development and stylistic contexts, i.e. genre, design, format, and style...

 to works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface. A related term is "graffito", or "sgrafitto," which involves scratching through one layer of pigment to reveal another beneath it. This technique was primarily used by potters who would glaze their wares and then scratch a design into it. In ancient times graffiti was carved on walls with a sharp object, although sometimes chalk
Chalk
Chalk is a soft, white, porous sedimentary rock, a form of limestone composed of the mineral calcite. Calcite is calcium carbonate or CaCO3. It forms under reasonably deep marine conditions from the gradual accumulation of minute calcite plates shed from micro-organisms called coccolithophores....

 or coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 were used. The word originates from Greek — graphein — meaning "to write."

History

The term graffiti referred to the inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., found on the walls of ancient sepulchers
Sepulchre
The rock-cut tombs in ancient Israel are a group of hundreds of rock-cut tombs constructed in Israel in ancient times. They were cut into the rock, sometimes with elaborate facades and multiple burial chambers. Some are free-standing, but most are caves. Each tomb typically belonged to a...

 or ruins, as in the Catacombs of Rome
Catacombs of Rome
The Catacombs of Rome are ancient catacombs, underground burial places under or near Rome, Italy, of which there are at least forty, some discovered only in recent decades. Though most famous for Christian burials, either in separate catacombs or mixed together, they began in the 2nd century, much...

 or at Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

. Usage of the word has evolved to include any graphics applied to surfaces in a manner that constitutes vandalism
Vandalism
Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

.

The earliest forms of graffiti date back to 30,000 BCE in the form of prehistoric cave paintings and pictographs using tools such as Animal bones and pigments. These illustrations were often placed in ceremonial and sacred locations inside of the caves. The images drawn on the walls showed scenes of animal wildlife and hunting expeditions in most circumstances. This form of graffiti is subject to disagreement considering it is likely that members of prehistoric society endorsed the creation of these illustrations.

The only known source of the Safaitic
Safaitic
Safaitic is the name given to an Old North Arabian dialect, preserved in the form of inscriptions which are written in a type of South Semitic script. These inscriptions were written by bedouin and semi-nomadic inhabitants of the Syro-Arabian desert...

 language, a form of proto-Arabic, is from graffiti: inscriptions scratched on to the surface of rocks and boulders in the predominantly basalt desert of southern Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

, eastern Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

 and northern Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

. Safaitic dates from the 1st century BCE to the 4th century CE
Common Era
Common Era ,abbreviated as CE, is an alternative designation for the calendar era originally introduced by Dionysius Exiguus in the 6th century, traditionally identified with Anno Domini .Dates before the year 1 CE are indicated by the usage of BCE, short for Before the Common Era Common Era...

.

Modern-style graffiti

The first known example of "modern style" graffiti survives in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus
Ephesus
Ephesus was an ancient Greek city, and later a major Roman city, on the west coast of Asia Minor, near present-day Selçuk, Izmir Province, Turkey. It was one of the twelve cities of the Ionian League during the Classical Greek era...

 (in modern-day Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

). Local guides say it is an advertisement for prostitution
Prostitution
Prostitution is the act or practice of providing sexual services to another person in return for payment. The person who receives payment for sexual services is called a prostitute and the person who receives such services is known by a multitude of terms, including a "john". Prostitution is one of...

. Located near a mosaic
Mosaic
Mosaic is the art of creating images with an assemblage of small pieces of colored glass, stone, or other materials. It may be a technique of decorative art, an aspect of interior decoration, or of cultural and spiritual significance as in a cathedral...

 and stone walkway, the graffiti shows a handprint that vaguely resembles a heart, along with a footprint and a number. This is believed to indicate that a brothel was nearby, with the handprint symbolizing payment.

The ancient Romans
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 carved graffiti on walls and monuments, examples of which also survive in Egypt
Ancient Egypt
Ancient Egypt was an ancient civilization of Northeastern Africa, concentrated along the lower reaches of the Nile River in what is now the modern country of Egypt. Egyptian civilization coalesced around 3150 BC with the political unification of Upper and Lower Egypt under the first pharaoh...

. Graffiti in the classical world had different connotations than it carries in today's society concerning content. Ancient graffiti displayed phrases of love declarations, political rhetoric, and simple words of thought compared to today's popular messages of social and political ideals
The eruption of Vesuvius preserved graffiti in Pompeii
Pompeii
The city of Pompeii is a partially buried Roman town-city near modern Naples in the Italian region of Campania, in the territory of the comune of Pompei. Along with Herculaneum, Pompeii was destroyed and completely buried during a long catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius spanning...

, including Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 curses, magic spells, declarations of love, alphabets, political slogans and famous literary quotes, providing insight into ancient Roman street life. One inscription gives the address of a woman named Novellia Primigenia of Nuceria, a prostitute, apparently of great beauty, whose services were much in demand. Another shows a phallus accompanied by the text, 'mansueta tene': "Handle with care".

Disappointed love also found its way onto walls in antiquity:
Quisquis amat. veniat. Veneri volo frangere costas
fustibus et lumbos debilitare deae.
Si potest illa mihi tenerum pertundere pectus
quit ego non possim caput illae frangere fuste?

Whoever loves, go to hell. I want to break Venus's ribs
with a club and deform her hips.
If she can break my tender heart
why can't I hit her over the head?
-CIL
Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum
The Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum is a comprehensive collection of ancient Latin inscriptions. It forms an authoritative source for documenting the surviving epigraphy of classical antiquity. Public and personal inscriptions throw light on all aspects of Roman life and history...

IV, 1284.

Historic forms of graffiti have helped gain understanding into the lifestyles and languages of past cultures. Errors in spelling and grammar in this graffiti offer insight into the degree of literacy in Roman times and provide clues on the pronunciation of spoken Latin. Examples are CIL IV, 7838: Vettium Firmum / aed[ilem] quactiliar[ii] [sic] rog[ant]. Here, "qu" is pronounced "co." The 83 pieces of graffiti found at CIL IV, 4706-85 are evidence of the ability to read and write at levels of society where literacy might not be expected. The graffiti appear on a peristyle
Peristyle
In Hellenistic Greek and Roman architecture a peristyle is a columned porch or open colonnade in a building surrounding a court that may contain an internal garden. Tetrastoon is another name for this feature...

 which was being remodeled at the time of the eruption of Vesuvius by the architect Crescens. The graffiti was left by both the foreman and his workers. The brothel at CIL VII, 12, 18-20 contains over 120 pieces of graffiti, some of which were the work of the prostitutes and their clients. The gladiator
Gladiator
A gladiator was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some gladiators were volunteers who risked their legal and social standing and their lives by appearing in the...

ial academy at CIL IV, 4397 was scrawled with graffiti left by the gladiator Celadus Crescens (Suspirium puellarum Celadus thraex: "Celadus the Thracian
Thracians
The ancient Thracians were a group of Indo-European tribes inhabiting areas including Thrace in Southeastern Europe. They spoke the Thracian language – a scarcely attested branch of the Indo-European language family...

 makes the girls sigh.")

Another piece from Pompeii, written on a tavern wall about the owner of the establishment and his questionable wine:
Landlord, may your lies malign
Bring destruction on your head!
You yourself drink unmixed wine,
Water sell your guests instead.


It was not only the Greeks and Romans that produced graffiti: the Mayan
Maya civilization
The Maya is a Mesoamerican civilization, noted for the only known fully developed written language of the pre-Columbian Americas, as well as for its art, architecture, and mathematical and astronomical systems. Initially established during the Pre-Classic period The Maya is a Mesoamerican...

 site of Tikal
Tikal
Tikal is one of the largest archaeological sites and urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya civilization. It is located in the archaeological region of the Petén Basin in what is now northern Guatemala...

 in Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 also contains ancient examples. Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 graffiti survive in Rome and at Newgrange Mound
Newgrange
Newgrange is a prehistoric monument located in County Meath, on the eastern side of Ireland, about one kilometre north of the River Boyne. It was built around 3200 BC , during the Neolithic period...

 in Ireland, and a Varangian scratched his name (Halvdan) in rune
Runic alphabet
The runic alphabets are a set of related alphabets using letters known as runes to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialized purposes thereafter...

s on a banister in the Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia
Hagia Sophia is a former Orthodox patriarchal basilica, later a mosque, and now a museum in Istanbul, Turkey...

 at Constantinople
Constantinople
Constantinople was the capital of the Roman, Eastern Roman, Byzantine, Latin, and Ottoman Empires. Throughout most of the Middle Ages, Constantinople was Europe's largest and wealthiest city.-Names:...

. These early forms of graffiti have contributed to the understanding of lifestyles and languages of past cultures.

Graffiti, known as Tacherons, were frequently scratched on Romanesque Scandinavian church walls.

When Renaissance
Renaissance
The Renaissance was a cultural movement that spanned roughly the 14th to the 17th century, beginning in Italy in the Late Middle Ages and later spreading to the rest of Europe. The term is also used more loosely to refer to the historical era, but since the changes of the Renaissance were not...

 artists such as Pinturicchio
Pinturicchio
Bernardino di Betto, called Pintoricchio or Pinturicchio was an Italian painter of the Renaissance. He acquired his nickname, Pintoricchio , because of his small stature, and he used it to sign some of his works....

, Raphael
Raphael
Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino , better known simply as Raphael, was an Italian painter and architect of the High Renaissance. His work is admired for its clarity of form and ease of composition and for its visual achievement of the Neoplatonic ideal of human grandeur...

, Michelangelo
Michelangelo
Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni , commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian Renaissance painter, sculptor, architect, poet, and engineer who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art...

, Ghirlandaio
Domenico Ghirlandaio
Domenico Ghirlandaio was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. Among his many apprentices was Michelangelo.-Early years:Ghirlandaio's full name is given as Domenico di Tommaso di Currado di Doffo Bigordi...

 or Filippino Lippi
Filippino Lippi
Filippino Lippi was an Italian painter working during the High Renaissance in Florence, Italy.-Biography:...

 descended into the ruins of Nero's Domus Aurea
Domus Aurea
The Domus Aurea was a large landscaped portico villa, designed to take advantage of artificially created landscapes built in the heart of Ancient Rome by the Emperor Nero after the Great Fire of Rome had cleared away the aristocratic dwellings on the slopes of the Palatine...

, they carved or painted their names and returned with the grottesche style of decoration.
There are also examples of graffiti occurring in American history, such as Signature Rock, a national landmark along the Oregon Trail
Oregon Trail
The Oregon Trail is a historic east-west wagon route that connected the Missouri River to valleys in Oregon and locations in between.After 1840 steam-powered riverboats and steamboats traversing up and down the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri rivers sped settlement and development in the flat...

.

Later, French soldiers carved their names on monuments during the Napoleonic campaign of Egypt
French Revolutionary Wars: Campaigns of 1798
1798 was a relatively quiet period in the French Revolutionary Wars. The major continental powers in the First coalition had made peace with France, leaving France dominant in Europe with only a slow naval war with Great Britain to worry about...

 in the 1790s. Lord Byron's survives on one of the columns of the Temple of Poseidon
Poseidon
Poseidon was the god of the sea, and, as "Earth-Shaker," of the earthquakes in Greek mythology. The name of the sea-god Nethuns in Etruscan was adopted in Latin for Neptune in Roman mythology: both were sea gods analogous to Poseidon...

 at Cape Sounion in Attica
Attica
Attica is a historical region of Greece, containing Athens, the current capital of Greece. The historical region is centered on the Attic peninsula, which projects into the Aegean Sea...

, Greece.

Modern graffiti

Graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with hip hop culture and the myriad international styles derived from New York City Subway
New York City Subway
The New York City Subway is a rapid transit system owned by the City of New York and leased to the New York City Transit Authority, a subsidiary agency of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and also known as MTA New York City Transit...

 graffiti. However, there are many other instances of notable graffiti this century. Graffiti has long appeared on railroad boxcar
Boxcar
A boxcar is a railroad car that is enclosed and generally used to carry general freight. The boxcar, while not the simplest freight car design, is probably the most versatile, since it can carry most loads...

s and subways
Rapid transit
A rapid transit, underground, subway, elevated railway, metro or metropolitan railway system is an electric passenger railway in an urban area with a high capacity and frequency, and grade separation from other traffic. Rapid transit systems are typically located either in underground tunnels or on...

. The one with the longest history, dating back to the 1920s and continuing into the present day, is Texino. During World War II and for decades after, the phrase "Kilroy was here
Kilroy was here
Kilroy was here is an American popular culture expression, often seen in graffiti. Its origins are debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle—a bald-headed man with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall—is widely known among U.S...

" with accompanying illustration was widespread throughout the world, due to its use by American troops and its filtering into American popular culture. Shortly after the death of Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charles Parker, Jr. , famously called Bird or Yardbird, was an American jazz saxophonist and composer....

 (nicknamed "Yardbird" or "Bird"), graffiti began appearing around New York with the words "Bird Lives". The student protests and general strike of May 1968 saw Paris bedecked in revolutionary, anarchist, and situationist slogans such as L'ennui est contre-révolutionnaire ("Boredom is counterrevolutionary") expressed in painted graffiti, poster
Poster
A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to a wall or vertical surface. Typically posters include both textual and graphic elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or wholly text. Posters are designed to be both eye-catching and informative. Posters may be...

 art, and stencil
Stencil
A stencil is a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material. The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to...

 art. In the U.S. at the time other political phrases (such as "Free Huey" about Black Panther
Black Panther Party
The Black Panther Party wasan African-American revolutionary leftist organization. It was active in the United States from 1966 until 1982....

 Huey Newton) became briefly popular as graffiti in limited areas, only to be forgotten. A popular graffito of the 1970s was the legend "Dick Nixon Before He Dicks You", reflecting the hostility of the youth culture to that U.S. president.

Rock and roll graffiti is a significant sub genre. A famous graffito of the 20th century was the inscription in the London subway reading "Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Patrick Clapton, CBE, is an English guitarist and singer-songwriter. Clapton is the only three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: once as a solo artist, and separately as a member of The Yardbirds and Cream. Clapton has been referred to as one of the most important and...

 is God". The phrase was spray-painted by an admirer on a wall in an Islington Underground station in the autumn of 1967. The graffiti was captured in a photograph, in which a dog is urinating on the wall. Graffiti also became associated with the anti-establishment punk rock
Punk rock
Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. Rooted in garage rock and other forms of what is now known as protopunk music, punk rock bands eschewed perceived excesses of mainstream 1970s rock...

 movement beginning in the 1970s. Bands such as Black Flag
Black Flag (band)
Black Flag was an American punk rock band formed in 1976 in Hermosa Beach, California. The band was established by Greg Ginn, the guitarist, primary songwriter and sole continuous member through multiple personnel changes in the band...

 and Crass
Crass
Crass are an English punk rock band that was formed in 1977, which promoted anarchism as a political ideology, way of living, and as a resistance movement. Crass popularised the seminal anarcho-punk movement of the punk subculture, and advocated direct action, animal rights, and environmentalism...

 (and their followers) widely stencil
Stencil
A stencil is a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material. The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to...

ed their names and logos, while many punk night clubs, squats and hangouts are famous for their graffiti. In the late 1980s the upside down Martini glass that was the tag for punk band Missing Foundation was the most ubiquitous graffito in lower Manhattan, and copied by hard core punk fans throughout the U.S. and West Germany
West Germany
West Germany is the common English, but not official, name for the Federal Republic of Germany or FRG in the period between its creation in May 1949 to German reunification on 3 October 1990....

.

Along similar lines was the legend "Frodo Lives", referring to the protagonist of The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

.

Spread of graffiti culture

In 1979, graffiti artist Lee Quinones
Lee Quinones
George Lee Quiñones is an American artist and actor. He is one of the several artists rising from the New York City Subway graffiti movement....

 and Fab 5 Freddy were given a gallery opening in Rome by art dealer Claudio Bruni. For many outside of New York, it was their first encounter with the art form. Fab 5 Freddy's friendship with Debbie Harry
Debbie Harry
Deborah Ann "Debbie" Harry is an American singer-songwriter and actress, best known for being the lead singer of the punk rock and new wave band Blondie. She has also had success as a solo artist, and in the mid-1990s she performed and recorded as part of The Jazz Passengers...

 influenced Blondie
Blondie (band)
Blondie is an American rock band, founded by singer Deborah Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. The band was a pioneer in the early American New Wave and punk scenes of the mid-1970s...

's single "Rapture
Rapture (song)
"Rapture" is a single by the American new wave band Blondie. It was released in January 1981 and was the second and final song to be released from the band's 1980 top 10 album Autoamerican, the first being "The Tide Is High", which had topped the chart in the US and UK. "Rapture" went on to reach...

" (Chrysalis
Chrysalis Records
Chrysalis Records was a British record label that was created in 1969. The name was both a reference to the pupal stage of a butterfly and a combination of its founders names, Chris Wright and Terry Ellis...

, 1981), the video of which featured Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist. His career in art began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s, and in the 1980s produced Neo-expressionist painting.-Early life:...

 of the SAMO© Graffiti
SAMO© Graffiti
SAMO© Graffiti appeared in New York City from 1977 to early 1980. They were short phrases, in turns poetic and sarcastic, mainly painted on the streets of downtown Manhattan. The tag SAMO© has been primarily associated with the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, but was developed mainly as a...

, and offered many their first glimpse of a depiction of elements of graffiti in hip hop culture. With the release of ""Graffiti Artists International" on JaJaJa's self-titled LP album (1982, Ata Tak - WR16), Julie Jigsaw became the first rapper to record a song about graffiti in Europe. JaJaJa toured Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, and Holland with her a large graffiti canvas as a backdrop. Charlie Ahearn's independently released fiction film Wild Style
Wild Style
Wild Style is a 1983 hip hop film produced by Charlie Ahearn. Released theatrically in 1983 by First Run Features and later re-released for home video by Rhino Home Video, it is regarded as the first hip hop motion picture...

(Wild Style, 1983), the early PBS
Public Broadcasting Service
The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

 documentary Style Wars
Style Wars
Style Wars is a 1983 documentary on hip hop culture, directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant. The film has an emphasis on graffiti, although bboying and rapping are covered to a lesser extent...

(1983), hit songs such as "The Message" and "Planet Rock
Planet Rock (song)
"Planet Rock" is a 1982 song by Afrika Bambaataa & the Soulsonic Force. In the background and hooks featured Marvella Murray, Yvette Murray, Melissa Johnson and Sandra Wheeler. Although it was only a minor hit in the US, Canada, and UK, it helped change the foundations of hip-hop and dance music...

" and their accompanying music video
Music video
A music video or song video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings...

s (both 1982) contributed to a growing interest outside New York in all aspects of hip hop. Style Wars depicted not only famous graffiti artists such as Skeme, Dondi
Dondi
Dondi was a daily comic strip about a large-eyed war orphan of the same name. Created by Gus Edson and Irwin Hasen, it ran in more than 100 newspapers for three decades .-Interview:...

, MinOne and Zephyr
Zephyr
Zephyr may refer to:* A light or west wind* Zephyrus, one of the Anemoi and the Greek god of the west wind* Zephyranthes, a plant genus whose species include the zephyr lily* Zephyr , a well-known graffiti artist from New York City...

, but also reinforced graffiti's role within New York's emerging hip hop culture by incorporating famous early break dancing groups such as Rock Steady Crew into the film and featuring rap in the soundtrack. Style Wars is still recognized as the most prolific film representation of what was going on within the young hip hop culture of the early 1980s. Fab 5 Freddy and Futura 2000 took hip hop graffiti to Paris and London as part of the New York City Rap Tour in 1983. Hollywood also paid attention, consulting writers like PHASE 2
PHASE 2
PHASE 2 is one of the most influential and well known New York City aerosol artist. Mostly active in the 1970s, Phase 2 is generally credited with originating the "bubble letter" style of aerosol writing, also known as "softies"...

 as it depicted the culture and gave it international exposure in movies like Beat Street
Beat Street
Beat Street is a 1984 drama film, following Wild Style in featuring New York City hip hop culture of the early 1980s; breakdancing, DJing, and graffiti.-Plot:...

(Orion
Orion Pictures
Orion Pictures Corporation was an American independent production company that produced movies from 1978 until 1998. It was formed in 1978 as a joint venture between Warner Bros. and three former top-level executives of United Artists. Although it was never a large motion picture producer, Orion...

, 1984).

This period also saw the emergence of the new stencil graffiti
Stencil graffiti
Stencil graffiti makes use of a paper, cardboard, or other media to create an image or text that is easily reproducible. The desired design is cut out of the selected medium and then the image is transferred to a surface through the use of spray paint or roll-on paint.The process of stenciling...

 genre. Some of the first examples were created ca 1981 by graffiti artist Blek le Rat
Blek le Rat
Blek le Rat, born Xavier Prou in Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris in 1952, was one of the first graffiti artists in Paris, and has been described as the “Father of Stencil Graffiti” .-Early career and Influence:...

 in Paris; by 1985 stencils had appeared in other cities including New York City, Sydney and Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

, where they were documented by American photographer Charles Gatewood and Australian photographer Rennie Ellis.

Graffiti as a memorial

People often leave their traces in wet cement or concrete. This type of graffiti often commemorates the mutual commitment of a couple, or simply records a person's presence at a particular moment. Often this type of graffiti is dated and is left untouched for decades, offering a look into local historical minutiae.

Commercialization and entrance into mainstream pop culture

With the popularity and legitimization of graffiti has come a level of commercialization. In 2001, computer giant IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

 launched an advertising campaign in Chicago and San Francisco which involved people spray painting on sidewalks a peace symbol
Peace symbol
A number of peace symbols have been used in various cultures and contexts, one of the most ancient being the olive branch. The dove and olive branch was used by early Christians and was later adopted as a secular symbol. It was popularised by Pablo Picasso in 1949 and became widely used in the...

, a heart
Heart (symbol)
The heart has long been used as a symbol to refer to the spiritual, emotional, moral, and in the past, also intellectual core of a human being...

, and a penguin
Penguin
Penguins are a group of aquatic, flightless birds living almost exclusively in the southern hemisphere, especially in Antarctica. Highly adapted for life in the water, penguins have countershaded dark and white plumage, and their wings have become flippers...

 (Linux
Linux
Linux is a Unix-like computer operating system assembled under the model of free and open source software development and distribution. The defining component of any Linux system is the Linux kernel, an operating system kernel first released October 5, 1991 by Linus Torvalds...

 mascot), to represent "Peace, Love, and Linux." However due to illegalities some of the "street artists" were arrested and charged with vandalism, and IBM was fined more than US$120,000 for punitive and clean-up costs.

In 2005, a similar ad campaign was launched by Sony
Sony
, commonly referred to as Sony, is a Japanese multinational conglomerate corporation headquartered in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and the world's fifth largest media conglomerate measured by revenues....

 and executed by TATS CRU
TATS CRU
TATS CRU, Inc. is a group of Bronx-based graffiti artists turned professional muralists. The members of TATS CRU are Bio, BG183, Nicer, HOW, and NOSM....

 in New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Miami to market its handheld PSP
PlayStation Portable
The is a handheld game console manufactured and marketed by Sony Corporation Development of the console was announced during E3 2003, and it was unveiled on , 2004, at a Sony press conference before E3 2004...

 gaming system. In this campaign, taking notice of the legal problems of the IBM campaign, Sony paid building owners for the rights to paint on their buildings "a collection of dizzy-eyed urban kids playing with the PSP as if it were a skateboard, a paddle or a rocking horse."

Along with the commercial growth has come the rise of video games also depicting graffiti, usually in a positive aspect – for example, the Jet Set Radio
Jet Set Radio
is a video game for the Dreamcast, developed by Smilebit and published by Sega on June 29, 2000. A 2D version of the game was later released for Game Boy Advance; this version was developed by Vicarious Visions and published by THQ. Its sequel, Jet Set Radio Future was released 2 years later for...

series (2000–2003) tells the story of a group of teens fighting the oppression of a totalitarian
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

 police force that attempts to limit the graffiti artists' freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

. In plotlines mirroring the negative reaction of non-commercial artists to the commercialization of the art form by companies like IBM (and, later, Sony itself) the Rakugaki Ōkoku
Graffiti Kingdom
Graffiti Kingdom, known as Rakugaki Ōkoku 2: Maōjō no Tatakai in Japan, is a video game by Taito Corporation and Garakuta Studio, which was published in America by Hot-B for the PlayStation 2 console.-Gameplay:...

series (2003–2005) for Sony's PlayStation 2
PlayStation 2
The PlayStation 2 is a sixth-generation video game console manufactured by Sony as part of the PlayStation series. Its development was announced in March 1999 and it was first released on March 4, 2000, in Japan...

 revolves around an anonymous hero and his magically imbued-with-life graffiti creations as they struggle against an evil king who only allows art to be produced which can benefit him. Following the original roots of modern graffiti as a political force came another game title, Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure
Marc Eckō's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure is a video game released on February 14, 2006. It was developed by The Collective, Inc. and published by Atari under license by Marc Ecko...

(2006), featuring a story line involving fighting against a corrupt city and its oppression of free speech, as in the Jet Set Radio series.

Other games which feature graffiti include Bomb the World
Klark Kent
Klark Kent is a graffiti artist and music producer.Klark Kent has been writing graffiti since 1989, and has gained international credit for his work over the years. Besides books and magazines his art was shown on several exhibitions worldwide, including the Galleries Vincent Louis and Pacifico...

(2004), an online graffiti simulation created by graffiti artist Klark Kent
Klark Kent
Klark Kent is a graffiti artist and music producer.Klark Kent has been writing graffiti since 1989, and has gained international credit for his work over the years. Besides books and magazines his art was shown on several exhibitions worldwide, including the Galleries Vincent Louis and Pacifico...

 where users can virtually paint trains at 20 locations worldwide, and Super Mario Sunshine
Super Mario Sunshine
is a platforming video game developed by Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development and published by Nintendo for the Nintendo GameCube. It was released in Japan in July 2002, in North America in August 2002, and in Europe and Australia in October 2002...

(2002), in which the hero, Mario
Mario
is a fictional character in his video game series, created by Japanese video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto. Serving as Nintendo's mascot and the main protagonist of the series, Mario has appeared in over 200 video games since his creation...

 must clean the city of graffiti left by the villain, Bowser Jr. in a plotline which evokes the successes of the Anti-Graffiti Task Force of New York's Mayor Rudolph Giuliani
Rudy Giuliani
Rudolph William Louis "Rudy" Giuliani KBE is an American lawyer, businessman, and politician from New York. He served as Mayor of New York City from 1994 to 2001....

 (a manifestation of "broken window theory
Fixing Broken Windows
The broken windows theory is a criminological theory of the norm setting and signaling effect of urban disorder and vandalism on additional crime and anti-social behavior...

") or those of the "Graffiti Blasters
Graffiti Blasters
Graffiti Blasters is a program to eliminate graffiti, street art and gang-related vandalism in Chicago, Illinois. The program is structured as a privately owned business based in the city government...

" of Chicago's Mayor Richard M. Daley
Richard M. Daley
Richard Michael Daley is a United States politician, member of the national and local Democratic Party, and former Mayor of Chicago, Illinois. He was elected mayor in 1989 and reelected in 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. He was the longest serving Chicago mayor, surpassing the tenure of his...

.

Numerous other non-graffiti-centric video games allow the player to produce graffiti (such as the Half-Life series
Half-Life (series)
The Half-Life series of video games share a science fiction alternate history. Nearly all of the games are first-person shooters on the GoldSource or Source engines, and most are linear, narrative, single-player titles....

, the Tony Hawk's series, The Urbz: Sims in the City
The Urbz: Sims in the City
The Urbz: Sims in the City is a video game for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and Xbox consoles, as well as the Game Boy Advance and Nintendo DS portable systems. It is the third Sims game for video game consoles and is the second Sims game not to be released on PC...

, Rolling and Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is a 2004 open world action video game developed by British games developer Rockstar North and published by Rockstar Games. It is the third 3D game in the Grand Theft Auto video game franchise, the fifth original console release and eighth game overall...

). Counter-Strike
Counter-Strike
Counter-Strike is a tactical first-person shooter video game developed by Valve Corporation which originated from a Half-Life modification by Minh "Gooseman" Le and Jess "Cliffe" Cliffe...

which is a Half-Life mod allows user to create their own and tag in game. Many other titles contain in-game depictions of graffiti (such as The Darkness
The Darkness (video game)
The Darkness is a first-person shooter video game, developed by Starbreeze Studios and published by 2K Games for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3. It was released on June 25, 2007 in North America and on June 20, 2007 in Europe. The video game is based on the comic book of the same title...

, Double Dragon 3: The Rosetta Stone, NetHack
NetHack
NetHack is a single-player roguelike video game originally released in 1987. It is a descendant of an earlier game called Hack , which is a descendant of Rogue...

, Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked
Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked
Samurai Champloo: Sidetracked, released in Japan as , is a beat 'em up video game for PlayStation 2. It has an original story based on the anime series Samurai Champloo though Bandai has stated it has no direct relation to the events depicted in the show.-Story:The game follows an original story...

, The World Ends With You, The Warriors
The Warriors (video game)
The Warriors is a beat 'em up video game published by Rockstar Games. It was released on October 17, 2005 for PlayStation 2 and Xbox, and February 12, 2007 for PlayStation Portable. The game is based on the 1979 film, The Warriors...

, Just Cause
Just Cause (video game)
Just Cause is an open world action-adventure video game developed by Avalanche Studios and published by Eidos Interactive. It was released for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox, Xbox 360 on September 22, 2006 in Europe, September 27, 2006 in North America, September 29, 2006 in Australia and...

, Portal, various examples of Virtual Graffiti, etc.). There also exist a host of games where the term "graffiti" is used as a synonym for "drawing" (such as Yahoo! Graffiti, Graffiti, etc.).

Marc Ecko
Marc Ecko
Marc Eckō is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur, investor, artist, and philanthropist. He is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of Marc Eckō Enterprises, a billion-dollar global fashion and lifestyle company...

, an urban clothing designer, has been an advocate of graffiti as an art form during this period, stating that "Graffiti is without question the most powerful art movement in recent history and has been a driving inspiration throughout my career."

Keith Haring
Keith Haring
Keith Haring was an artist and social activist whose work responded to the New York City street culture of the 1980s.-Early life:...

 was another well-known graffiti artist who brought Pop Art and graffiti to the commercial mainstream. In the 1980s, Haring opened his first Pop Shop: a store that offered everyone access to his works—which until then could only be found spray-painted on city walls. Pop Shop offered commodities like bags and t-shirts. Haring explained that "The Pop Shop makes my work accessible. It's about participation on a big level, the point was that we didn't want to produce things that would cheapen the art. In other words, this was still art as statement".

Graffiti has become a common stepping stone for many members of both the art and design community in North America and abroad. Within the United States Graffiti Artists such as Mike Giant, Pursue, Rime, Noah and countless others have made careers in skateboard, apparel and shoe design for companies such as DC Shoes, Adidas, Rebel8 Osiris or Circa Meanwhile there are many others such as DZINE, Daze, Blade, The Mac that have made the switch to gallery artists often times not even using their initial medium, spray paint.

But perhaps the greatest example of graffiti artists infiltrating mainstream pop culture is by the French crew, 123Klan. 123Klan founded as a graffiti crew in 1989 by Scien and Klor, have gradually turned their hands to illustration and design while still maintaining their graffiti practice and style. In doing so they have designed and produced, logos and illustrations, shoes, and fashion for the likes of Nike, Adidas, Lamborghini, Coca Cola, Stussy, Sony, Nasdaq and more.

South America

There is a significant graffiti tradition in South America, especially in Brazil
Brazil
Brazil , officially the Federative Republic of Brazil , is the largest country in South America. It is the world's fifth largest country, both by geographical area and by population with over 192 million people...

. Within Brazil, São Paulo
São Paulo
São Paulo is the largest city in Brazil, the largest city in the southern hemisphere and South America, and the world's seventh largest city by population. The metropolis is anchor to the São Paulo metropolitan area, ranked as the second-most populous metropolitan area in the Americas and among...

 is generally considered to be the current centre of inspiration for many graffiti artists worldwide.

Brazil "boasts a unique and particularly rich graffiti scene ... [earning] it an international reputation as the place to go for artistic inspiration." Graffiti "flourishes in every conceivable space in Brazil's cities." Artistic parallels "are often drawn between the energy of São Paulo today and 1970s New York." The "sprawling metropolis," of São Paulo has "become the new shrine to graffiti;" Manco alludes to "poverty and unemployment ... [and] the epic struggles and conditions of the country's marginalised peoples," and to "Brazil's chronic poverty," as the main engines that "have fuelled a vibrant graffiti culture." In world terms, Brazil has "one of the most uneven distributions of income. Laws and taxes change frequently." Such factors, Manco argues, contribute to a very fluid society, riven with those economic divisions and social tensions that underpin and feed the "folkloric vandalism and an urban sport for the disenfranchised," that is South American graffiti art.

Prominent Brazilian graffiti artists include Os Gêmeos
Os Gêmeos
Os Gêmeos are graffiti artist identical twin brothers from São Paulo, Brazil, whose real names are Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. They started painting graffiti in 1987 and gradually became a main influence in the local scene, helping to define Brazil's own style...

, Boleta, Nunca
Francisco Rodrigues da Silva
Francisco Rodrigues da Silva is a prominent Brazilian "grafiteiro" artist who uses a graffiti technique to create images that confront modern urban Brazil with its native past...

, Nina, Speto, Tikka and T.Freak. Their artistic success and involvement in commercial design ventures has highlighted divisions within the Brazilian graffiti community between adherents of the cruder transgressive form of pichação and the more conventionally artistic values of the practitioners of grafite.

Middle East

Graffiti in the Middle East is slowly emerging, with pockets of taggers operating in the various 'Emirates' of the United Arab Emirates
United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

, in Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, and in Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

. The major Iranian newspaper Hamshahri
Hamshahri
Hamshahri is a major national Iranian Persian-language newspaper published by the Municipality of Tehran, and founded by Gholamhossein Karbaschi. It is the first coloured daily newspaper in Iran and has over 60 pages of classified advertisement, and is priced at 1000 Iranian rials. Currently, the...

has published two articles on illegal writers in the city with photo coverage of Iranian artist A1one
A1one
A1one is the street name of a visual artist who started graffiti and street art in Iran especially on the walls of Tehran. He was alone at that time so his nickname was Alone which then mutated into A1one. He started his street art project in 2003 and inspired his close friends at that time to...

's works on Tehran walls. Tokyo-based design magazine PingMag has interviewed A1one and featured photos of his work. The Israeli West Bank barrier
Israeli West Bank barrier
The Israeli West Bank barrier is a separation barrier being constructed by the State of Israel along and within the West Bank. Upon completion, the barrier’s total length will be approximately...

 has become a site for graffiti, reminiscent in this sense of the Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

. Many graffiti artists in Israel come from other places around the globe, such as JUIF, from Los Angeles, and DEVIONE from London. The religious reference "נ נח נחמ נחמן מאומן" ("Na Nach Nachma Nachman Meuman") is commonly seen graffitied around Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

.

Methods and production

The modern day graffiti artist can be found with an arsenal of various materials that allow for a successful production of a piece. This includes such techniques as scribing
Scribing (graffiti)
Scribing is a style or method of graffiti in which a scribe is used to tag on glass surfaces. There are two popular types of scribes. The first is the arrowhead scribe, held between the thumb and index finger, used for quick connectible-style tags on glass. The second is the pen scribe, usually...

. However, spray paint in aerosol cans is the number one necessity for graffiti. From this commodity come different styles, technique, and abilities to form master works of visual graffiti. Spray paint can be found at hardware and art stores and come in virtually every color.

Stencil graffiti
Stencil graffiti
Stencil graffiti makes use of a paper, cardboard, or other media to create an image or text that is easily reproducible. The desired design is cut out of the selected medium and then the image is transferred to a surface through the use of spray paint or roll-on paint.The process of stenciling...

, originating in the early 1980s, is created by cutting out shapes and designs in a stiff material (such as cardboard or subject folders) to form an overall design or image. The stencil is then placed on the canvas gently and with quick, easy strokes of the aerosol can, the image begins to appear on the intended surface. This method of graffiti is popular amongst artists because of its swift technique that requires very little time. Time is always a factor with graffiti due to the constant threat of getting caught by law enforcement.

Modern experimentation

Modern graffiti art often incorporates additional arts and technologies. For example, Graffiti Research Lab
Graffiti Research Lab
Graffiti Research Lab, founded by Evan Roth and James Powderly during their fellowships at the Eyebeam OpenLab, is an art group dedicated to outfitting graffiti writers, artists and protesters with open source technologies for urban communication. The members of the group experiment in a lab and in...

 has encouraged the use of projected images and magnetic light-emitting diode
Light-emitting diode
A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices and are increasingly used for other lighting...

s as new media for graffiti writers. The Italian artist Kaso is pursuing regenerative graffiti through experimentation with abstract shapes and deliberate modification of previous graffiti artworks. Yarnbombing is another recent form of graffiti. Yarnbombers occasionally target previous graffiti for modification.

Characteristics of common graffiti


Some of the most common styles of graffiti have their own names. A "tag" is the most basic writing of an artist's name, it is simply a handstyle. A graffiti writer's tag is his or her personalized signature. Tagging is often the example given when opponents of graffiti refer to any acts of handstyle graffiti writing (it is by far the most common form of graffiti). Tags can contain subtle and sometimes cryptic messages, and might incorporate the artist's crew initials or other letters.
One form of tagging known as "pissing" is the act of taking a refillable fire extinguisher and replacing the contents inside with paint, allowing for tags as high as around 20 feet. Aiming and keeping a handstyle steady in this form of tagging is very difficult, usually coming out wavy and sloppy.

Another form is the "throw-up", also known as a "bombing" which is normally painted very quickly with two or three colors, sacrificing aesthetics for speed. Throw-ups can also be outlined on a surface with one color. A "piece" is a more elaborate representation of the artist's name, incorporating more stylized letters, usually incorporating a much larger range of colors. This of course is more time consuming and increases the likelihood of the artist getting caught. A "blockbuster" or "roller" is a large piece, almost always done in a block shaped style, done simply to cover a large area solidly with two contrasting colours, sometimes with the whole purpose of blocking other writers from painting on the same wall. These are usually accomplished with extended paint rollers and gallons of cheap exterior paint.
A more complex style is "wildstyle
Wildstyle
Wildstyle is a complicated and intricate form of graffiti. Due to its complexity, it is often very hard to read by people who are not familiar with it. Usually, this form of graffiti incorporates interwoven and overlapping letters and shapes. It may include arrows, spikes, and other decorative...

", a form of graffiti usually involving interlocking letters and connecting points. These pieces are often harder to read by non-graffiti artists as the letters merge into one another in an often undecipherable manner. Some artists also use stickers as a quick way to catch ups. While certain critics from within graffiti culture consider this lazy, stickers can be quite detailed in their own right, and are often used in conjunction with other materials. Sticker tags are commonly done on blank postage stickers, as these can be easily acquired with no cost on the writers part.

Many graffiti artists believe that doing complex pieces involves too great an investment of time to justify the practice. Doing a piece can take (depending on experience and size) 30 minutes to months on end, as was the case for Saber
Saber (artist)
Saber is an American graffiti artist, and painter working in Los Angeles. The Washington Post described him as one of "the best and most respected artists" in his field.- Los Angeles River :...

 MSK while working on the worlds largest graffiti piece on the LA river. Another graffiti artist can go over a piece in a matter of minutes with a simple throw up. This was exemplified by the writer "CAP" in the documentary Style Wars
Style Wars
Style Wars is a 1983 documentary on hip hop culture, directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant. The film has an emphasis on graffiti, although bboying and rapping are covered to a lesser extent...

, who, other writers complain, ruins pieces with his quick throw ups. This became known as "capping" and is often done when there is "beef", conflict between writers.

Uses

Theories on the use of graffiti by avant-garde
Avant-garde
Avant-garde means "advance guard" or "vanguard". The adjective form is used in English to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics....

 artists have a history dating back at least to the Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism
Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism
The Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism is a non-profit cultural institute based in Denmark.It was founded in 1961 by the Danish artist Asger Jorn, Peter Glob and Werner Jacobsen from the National Museum of Denmark and Holger Arbman of the University of Lund, Sweden, after Jorn left...

 in 1961.
Many contemporary analysts and even art critics have begun to see artistic value in some graffiti and to recognize it as a form of public art
Public art
The term public art properly refers to works of art in any media that have been planned and executed with the specific intention of being sited or staged in the physical public domain, usually outside and accessible to all...

. According to many art researchers, particularly in the Netherlands and in Los Angeles, that type of public art is, in fact an effective tool of social emancipation
Political emancipation
Emancipation is a broad term used to describe various efforts to obtain political rights or equality, often for a specifically disenfranchised group, or more generally in discussion of such matters...

 or in the achievement of a political goal.

The murals of Belfast
Belfast
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...

 and of Los Angeles offer another example of official recognition. In times of conflict, such murals have offered a means of communication and self-expression for members of these socially, ethnically and/or racially divided communities, and have proven themselves as effective tools in establishing dialog and thus of addressing cleavages in the long run. The Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall
The Berlin Wall was a barrier constructed by the German Democratic Republic starting on 13 August 1961, that completely cut off West Berlin from surrounding East Germany and from East Berlin...

 was also extensively covered by Graffiti reflecting social pressures relating to the oppressive Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 rule over the GDR.
Many artists involved with Graffiti also are concerned with the similar activity of Stencilling. Essentially, this entails stenciling a print of one or more colors using spray-paint. Recognised while exhibiting
Art exhibition
Art exhibitions are traditionally the space in which art objects meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" or...

 and publishing several of her coloured stencils and paintings portraying the ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka and urban Britain
Urban area
An urban area is characterized by higher population density and vast human features in comparison to areas surrounding it. Urban areas may be cities, towns or conurbations, but the term is not commonly extended to rural settlements such as villages and hamlets.Urban areas are created and further...

 in the early 2000s, graffiti artist Mathangi Arulpragasam a.k.a. M.I.A.
M.I.A. (artist)
Mathangi "Maya" Arulpragasam , better known by her stage name M.I.A. , is an English singer-songwriter, rapper, record producer, painter and director of Sri Lankan Tamil descent. Her compositions combine elements of hip hop, electronica, dance, alternative and world music. M.I.A...

 has also become known for integrating her imagery of political violence into her music videos for singles "Galang" and "Bucky Done Gun
Bucky Done Gun
"Bucky Done Gun" is the third single from M.I.A.'s critically acclaimed album Arular. It is written by Maya Arulpragasam and Wesley Pentz and produced by Diplo, with additional production by A. Brucker, P. Byrne and Wizard...

", and her cover art. Stickers of her artwork also often appear around places such as London in Brick Lane
Brick Lane
Brick Lane is a street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, in the East End of London. It runs from Swanfield Street in the northern part of Bethnal Green, crosses Bethnal Green Road, passes through Spitalfields and is linked to Whitechapel High Street to the south by the short stretch of...

, stuck to lamp posts and street signs, having herself become a muse for other graffiti artists/painters worldwide in cities including Seville
Seville
Seville is the artistic, historic, cultural, and financial capital of southern Spain. It is the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia and of the province of Seville. It is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir, with an average elevation of above sea level...

. Graffiti artist John Fekner
John Fekner
John Fekner is an innovative artist who created hundreds of environmental and conceptual outdoor works consisting of stenciled words, symbols, dates and icons spray painted in New York, Sweden, Canada, England and Germany in the 70s and 80s...

, called "caption writer to the urban environment, adman for the opposition" by writer Lucy Lippard, was involved in direct art interventions within New York City's decaying
Urban decay
Urban decay is the process whereby a previously functioning city, or part of a city, falls into disrepair and decrepitude...

 urban environment in the mid-seventies through the eighties. Fekner is known for his word installations targeting social and political issues, stenciled on buildings throughout New York.

Anonymous artists

Graffiti artists constantly have the looming threat of facing consequences for displaying their graffiti. Many choose to protect their identities and reputation by remaining anonymous.

With the commercialization of graffiti (and hip hop
Hip hop
Hip hop is a form of musical expression and artistic culture that originated in African-American and Latino communities during the 1970s in New York City, specifically the Bronx. DJ Afrika Bambaataa outlined the four pillars of hip hop culture: MCing, DJing, breaking and graffiti writing...

 in general), in most cases, even with legally painted "graffiti" art, graffiti artists tend to choose anonymity. This may be attributed to various reasons or a combination of reasons. Graffiti still remains the 1 of 4 hip hop elements that is not considered "performance art" despite the image of the "singing and dancing star" that sells hip hop culture to the mainstream. Being a form of visual art, it might also be said that many graffiti artists still fall in the category of the introverted archetypal artist.

Banksy
Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

 is one of the world's most notorious and popular street artist who continues to remain faceless in today's society. He is known for his political, anti-war stencil art mainly in Bristol, England but his work can be seen anywhere from Los Angeles to Palestine
Palestine
Palestine is a conventional name, among others, used to describe the geographic region between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, and various adjoining lands....

. In the UK, Banksy is the most recognizable icon for this cultural artistic movement and keeps his identity a secret to avoid arrest. Much of Banksy's artwork can be seen around the streets of London and surrounding suburbs, though he has painted pictures around the world, including the Middle East, where he has painted on Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

's controversial West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 barrier with satirical images of life on the other side. One depicted a hole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another shows a mountain landscape on the other side. A number of exhibitions
Art exhibition
Art exhibitions are traditionally the space in which art objects meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" or...

 have also taken place since 2000, and recent works of art have fetched vast sums of money. Banksy's art is a prime example of the classic controversy: vandalism vs. art. Art supporters endorse his work distributed in urban areas as pieces of art and some councils, such as Bristol and Islington, have officially protected them, while other officials have deemed his work to be vandalism and have removed it.

Pixnit is another artist who chooses to keep her identity from the general public. Her work focuses on beauty and design aspects of graffiti as opposed to Banksy's anti-government shock value. Her paintings are often of flower designs above shops and stores in her local urban area of Cambridge, Massachusetts . Some store owners endorse her work and encourage others to do so as well. "One of the pieces was left up above Steve's Kitchen, because it looks pretty awesome"- Erin Scott, the manager of New England Comics in Allston.

Radical and political

Graffiti often has a reputation as part of a subculture that rebels against authority, although the considerations of the practitioners often diverge and can relate to a wide range of attitudes. It can express a political practice and can form just one tool in an array of resistance techniques. One early example includes the anarcho-punk
Anarcho-punk
Anarcho-punk is punk rock that promotes anarchism. The term anarcho-punk is sometimes applied exclusively to bands that were part of the original anarcho-punk movement in the United Kingdom in the late 1970s and early 1980s...

 band Crass
Crass
Crass are an English punk rock band that was formed in 1977, which promoted anarchism as a political ideology, way of living, and as a resistance movement. Crass popularised the seminal anarcho-punk movement of the punk subculture, and advocated direct action, animal rights, and environmentalism...

, who conducted a campaign of stenciling anti-war
Anti-war
An anti-war movement is a social movement, usually in opposition to a particular nation's decision to start or carry on an armed conflict, unconditional of a maybe-existing just cause. The term can also refer to pacifism, which is the opposition to all use of military force during conflicts. Many...

, anarchist
Anarchism
Anarchism is generally defined as the political philosophy which holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful, or alternatively as opposing authority in the conduct of human relations...

, feminist
Feminism
Feminism is a collection of movements aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights and equal opportunities for women. Its concepts overlap with those of women's rights...

 and anti-consumerist
Consumerism
Consumerism is a social and economic order that is based on the systematic creation and fostering of a desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater amounts. The term is often associated with criticisms of consumption starting with Thorstein Veblen...

 messages around the London Underground
London Underground
The London Underground is a rapid transit system serving a large part of Greater London and some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex in England...

 system during the late 1970s and early 1980s.

In Amsterdam
Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...

 graffiti was a major part of the punk scene. The city was covered with names as 'De Zoot', 'Vendex' and 'Dr Rat'. To document the graffiti a punk magazine was started called Gallery Anus. So when hip hop came to Europe in the early 1980s there already was a vibrant graffiti culture.

The student protests and general strike of May 1968 saw Paris bedecked in revolutionary, anarchist, and situationist slogans such as L'ennui est contre-révolutionnaire ("Boredom is counterrevolutionary") and Lisez moins, vivez plus ("Read less, live more"). While not exhaustive, the graffiti gave a sense of the millenarian and rebellious spirit, tempered with a good deal of verbal wit, of the strikers.

The developments of graffiti art which took place in art galleries and colleges as well as "on the street" or "underground", contributed to the resurfacing in the 1990s of a far more overtly politicized art form in the subvertising
Subvertising
Subvertising is a portmanteau of subvert and advertising. It refers to the practice of making spoofs or parodies of corporate and political advertisements. Subvertisements may take the form of a new image or an alteration to an existing image or icon, often in a satirical manner...

, culture jamming
Culture jamming
Culture jamming, coined in 1984, denotes a tactic used by many anti-consumerist social movements to disrupt or subvert mainstream cultural institutions, including corporate advertising. Guerrilla semiotics and night discourse are sometimes used synonymously with the term culture jamming.Culture...

 or tactical media movements. These movements or styles tend to classify the artists by their relationship to their social and economic contexts, since, in most countries, graffiti art remains illegal in many forms except when using non-permanent paint. Since the 1990s a growing number of artists are switching to non-permanent paints for a variety of reasons—but primarily because is it difficult for the police to apprehend and for the courts to sentence or even convict a person for a protest that is as fleeting and less intrusive than marching in the streets. In some communities, such impermanent works survive longer than works created with permanent paints because the community views the work in the same vein as that of the civil protester who marches in the street—such protest are impermanent but effective nevertheless.

In some areas where a number of artist share the impermanence ideal, there grows an informal competition. That is, the length of time that a work escapes destruction is related to the amount of respect the work garners in the community. A crude work that deserves little respect would invariably be removed immediately. The most talented artist might have works last for days.

Artists whose primary object is to assert control over property—and not primarily to create of an expressive work of art, political or otherwise—resist switching to impermanent paints.

Contemporary practitioners, accordingly, have varied and often conflicting practices. Some individuals, such as Alexander Brener
Alexander Brener
Alexander Davidovič Brener born 1957 in Alma-Ata, is a Russian-Jewish performance artist. His performances of note include defecating in front of a painting by Vincent Van Gogh at the Museum of Fine Arts in Moscow, having sex on city streets, and vandalizing art work.He was jailed in 1997 for...

, have used the medium to politicize other art forms, and have used the prison sentences forced onto them as a means of further protest.

The practices of anonymous groups and individuals also vary widely, and practitioners by no means always agree with each others' practices. Anti-capitalist art group the Space Hijackers
Space Hijackers
The Space Hijackers is a group originating in the United Kingdom that defines itself as "an international band of anarchitects who battle to save our streets, towns and cities from the evils of urban planners, architects, multinationals and other hoodlums"...

, for example, did a piece in 2004 about the contradiction between the capitalistic elements of Banksy
Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

 and his use of political imagery.

On top of the political aspect of graffiti as a movement
Cultural movement
A cultural movement is a change in the way a number of different disciplines approach their work. This embodies all art forms, the sciences, and philosophies. Historically, different nations or regions of the world have gone through their own independent sequence of movements in culture, but as...

, political groups and individuals may also use graffiti as a tool to spread their point of view
Perspective (cognitive)
Perspective in theory of cognition is the choice of a context or a reference from which to sense, categorize, measure or codify experience, cohesively forming a coherent belief, typically for comparing with another...

. This practice, due to its illegality, has generally become favored by groups excluded from the political mainstream (e.g. far-left or far-right groups) who justify their activity by pointing out that they do not have the money – or sometimes the desire – to buy advertising
Advertising
Advertising is a form of communication used to persuade an audience to take some action with respect to products, ideas, or services. Most commonly, the desired result is to drive consumer behavior with respect to a commercial offering, although political and ideological advertising is also common...

 to get their message across, and that a "ruling class
Ruling class
The term ruling class refers to the social class of a given society that decides upon and sets that society's political policy - assuming there is one such particular class in the given society....

" or "establishment" control the mainstream press, systematically excluding the radical/alternative point of view. This type of graffiti can seem crude; for example fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 supporters often scrawl swastika
Swastika
The swastika is an equilateral cross with its arms bent at right angles, in either right-facing form in counter clock motion or its mirrored left-facing form in clock motion. Earliest archaeological evidence of swastika-shaped ornaments dates back to the Indus Valley Civilization of Ancient...

s and other Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 images.

One innovative form of graffiti that emerged in the UK in the 1970s was devised by the Money Liberation Front (MLF), essentially a loose affiliation of underground press
Underground press
The underground press were the independently published and distributed underground papers associated with the counterculture of the late 1960s and early 1970s in the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and other western nations....

 writers such as the poet and playwright Heathcote Williams
Heathcote Williams
Heathcote Williams is an English poet, actor and award-winning playwright. He is also an intermittent painter, sculptor and long-time conjuror...

 and magazine editor and playwright Jay Jeff Jones. They initiated the use of paper currency as a medium for counterculture
Counterculture
Counterculture is a sociological term used to describe the values and norms of behavior of a cultural group, or subculture, that run counter to those of the social mainstream of the day, the cultural equivalent of political opposition. Counterculture can also be described as a group whose behavior...

 propaganda, overprinting banknotes, usually with a John Bull
John Bull
John Bull is a national personification of Britain in general and England in particular, especially in political cartoons and similar graphic works. He is usually depicted as a stout, middle-aged man, often wearing a Union Flag waistcoat.-Origin:...

 printing set. Although short lived the MLF was representative of London's Ladbroke Grove
Ladbroke Grove
Ladbroke Grove is a road in west London, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. It is also sometimes the name given informally to the immediate area surrounding the road. Running from Notting Hill in the south to Kensal Green in the north, it is located in North Kensington and straddles...

 centered alternative and literary community of the period. The area was also a scene of considerable anti-establishment
Anti-establishment
An anti-establishment view or belief is one which stands in opposition to the conventional social, political, and economic principles of a society. The term was first used in the modern sense in 1958, by the British magazine New Statesman to refer to its political and social agenda...

 and humorous street graffiti much of it also produced by Williams.

In 2009, following the elections in Iran, protesters (who regarded the electoral result as rigged) began to deface banknotes with slogans such as "Death to the dictator". In Colombia writing and drawing on banknotes has become increasingly popular, either to make political comments, for fun or as an artistic medium. The national government has run advertising campaigns in an attempt to discourage the practice. In the UK there have been signs of an MLF resurgence with a number of banknotes in circulation being over-marked with protest slogans such as "Banks=Robbers", relating to the perceived culpability of banks in the financial crisis.

Both sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland
Northern Ireland is one of the four countries of the United Kingdom. Situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, it shares a border with the Republic of Ireland to the south and west...

 produce political graffiti. As well as slogans, Northern Irish political graffiti include large wall paintings, referred to as murals
Northern Irish murals
Murals in Northern Ireland have become symbols of Northern Ireland, depicting the region's past and present political and religious divisions.Northern Ireland contains arguably the most famous political murals. Almost 2,000 murals have been documented in Northern Ireland since the 1970s...

. Along with the flying of flags and the painting of kerb stones, the murals serve a territorial purpose, often associated with gang use. Artists paint them mostly on house gables or on the Peace Lines, high walls that separate different communities. The murals often develop over an extended period and tend to stylization, with a strong symbolic or iconographic content. Loyalist
Ulster loyalism
Ulster loyalism is an ideology that is opposed to a united Ireland. It can mean either support for upholding Northern Ireland's status as a constituent part of the United Kingdom , support for Northern Ireland independence, or support for loyalist paramilitaries...

 murals often refer to historical events dating from the war between James II
James II of England
James II & VII was King of England and King of Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII, from 6 February 1685. He was the last Catholic monarch to reign over the Kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland...

 and William III
William III of England
William III & II was a sovereign Prince of Orange of the House of Orange-Nassau by birth. From 1672 he governed as Stadtholder William III of Orange over Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel of the Dutch Republic. From 1689 he reigned as William III over England and Ireland...

 in the late 17th century, whereas Republican
Irish Republicanism
Irish republicanism is an ideology based on the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic.In 1801, under the Act of Union, the Kingdom of Great Britain and the Kingdom of Ireland merged to form the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland...

 murals usually refer to the more recent troubles
The Troubles
The Troubles was a period of ethno-political conflict in Northern Ireland which spilled over at various times into England, the Republic of Ireland, and mainland Europe. The duration of the Troubles is conventionally dated from the late 1960s and considered by many to have ended with the Belfast...

.

Territorial graffiti serves as marking ground to display tags and logos that differentiate certain groups from others. These images are meant to show outsiders a stern look at whose turf is whose. The subject matter of gang related graffiti consists of cryptic symbols and initials strictly fashioned with unique calligraphies. Gang members use graffiti to designate membership throughout the gang, to differentiate rivals and associates and, most commonly, to mark borders which are both territorial and ideological.

As advertising

Graffiti has been used as a means of advertising both legally and illegally. In NYC, Bronx-based TATS CRU
TATS CRU
TATS CRU, Inc. is a group of Bronx-based graffiti artists turned professional muralists. The members of TATS CRU are Bio, BG183, Nicer, HOW, and NOSM....

 has made a name for themselves doing legal advertising campaigns for companies like Coca Cola, McDonald's
McDonald's
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 64 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by the eponymous Richard and Maurice McDonald; in 1948...

, Toyota, and MTV
MTV
MTV, formerly an initialism of Music Television, is an American network based in New York City that launched on August 1, 1981. The original purpose of the channel was to play music videos guided by on-air hosts known as VJs....

. In the U.K. Covent Garden's Boxfresh
Boxfresh
Boxfresh is a British fashion label founded in 1989 by Roger Wade. The name originates from early hip hop slang for a pair of trainers being "fresh out of the box".- History :...

 used stencil images of a Zapatista
Zapatista Army of National Liberation
The Zapatista Army of National Liberation is a revolutionary leftist group based in Chiapas, the southernmost state of Mexico....

 revolutionary in the hopes of cross referencing would promote their store. Smirnoff
Smirnoff
Smirnoff is a brand of vodka owned and produced by the British company Diageo. The Smirnoff brand began with a vodka distillery founded in Moscow by Pyotr Arsenievich Smirnov , the son of illiterate Russian peasants. It is now distributed in 130 countries.Smirnoff products include vodka, flavored...

 hired artists to use reverse graffiti
Reverse graffiti
Reverse graffiti, also known as clean tagging, dust tagging, grime writing, green graffiti or clean advertising, is a method of creating temporary or semi permanent images on walls or other surfaces by removing dirt from a surface...

 (the use of high pressure hoses to clean dirty surfaces to leave a clean image in the surrounding dirt) to increase awareness of their product. Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey
Frank Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary graphic designer, and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his "André the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign, in which he appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. His...

 rose to fame after his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign, in which his art was plastered in cities across America.

Many graffiti artists see legal advertising as no more than 'paid for and legalised graffiti' and have risen against mainstream adverts. The graffiti research lab
Graffiti Research Lab
Graffiti Research Lab, founded by Evan Roth and James Powderly during their fellowships at the Eyebeam OpenLab, is an art group dedicated to outfitting graffiti writers, artists and protesters with open source technologies for urban communication. The members of the group experiment in a lab and in...

 crew have gone on to target several prominent adverts in New York as a means of making a statement against this criteria.

Offensive graffiti

Graffiti can also be used as an offensive expression. This form of graffiti can be difficult to locate, as it is mostly removed by the local authority (as councils which
have adopted strategies of criminalization also strive to remove graffiti quickly). Therefore, existing racist graffiti is mostly more subtle and at first sight not easily recognized as "racist". It can then only be understood if one knows the relevant "local code" (social, historical, political, temporal and spatial), which is seen as heteroglot
Heteroglossia
The term heteroglossia describes the coexistence of distinct varieties within a single "linguistic code". In Greek hetero = different + glōssa = tongue, language...

 and thus an 'unique set of conditions'.
A spatial code could for example be, that there is a certain youth group in an area which is engaging heavily in racist activities. So, for residents (knowing the local code), a graffiti only containing the name or abbreviation of this gang is already a racist expression, reminding the offended people of their gang activities. Also a graffiti is in most cases the herald of more serious criminal activity. A person who does not know these gang activities would not be able to recognize the meaning of this graffiti. Also if a tag of this youth group or gang is placed on a building occupied by asylum seekers, for example, its racist character is even stronger.

Hence, the lack of obvious racist graffiti does not necessarily mean that there actually is none. By making the graffiti less explicit (as adapted to social and legal constraints), these drawings are less likely to be removed but do not lose their threatening and offensive character.

Decorative and high art

In the early 1980s, the first Art Galleries who started to show graffiti artists to the public were Fashion Moda
Fashion Moda
Fashion Moda is a cultural concept. As a museum of science, art, invention, technology and fantasy in its South Bronx location from 1978-1993 it combined aspects of a community arts centre and a worldwide progressive arts organization.-History:...

 in Bronx and Now Gallery
Now Gallery
Now Gallery was a New York City art gallery based in East Village, Manhattan active in 1983 - 1989. An artist himself, director and owner Jacek Tylicki, has been recognized as an important promoter of emerging artists....

 in East Village, Manhattan
East Village, Manhattan
The East Village is a neighborhood in the borough of Manhattan in New York City, lying east of Greenwich Village, south of Gramercy and Stuyvesant Town, and north of the Lower East Side...

.

A 2006 exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum
Brooklyn Museum
The Brooklyn Museum is an encyclopedia art museum located in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. At 560,000 square feet, the museum holds New York City's second largest art collection with roughly 1.5 million works....

 displayed graffiti as an art form that began in New York's outer boroughs and reached great heights in the early '80s with the work of Crash, Lee, Daze, Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

It displayed 22 works by New York graffiti artists, including Crash, Daze and Lady Pink
Lady Pink
Lady Pink is a graffiti artist. She was raised in Queens, New York, and started her graffiti writing career in 1979 following the loss of a boyfriend who had been sent to live in Puerto Rico after he had been arrested. She exorcised her grief by tagging her boyfriend's name across the city...

. In an article about the exhibition in Time Out Magazine, curator Charlotta Kotik said that she hoped the exhibition would cause viewers to rethink their assumptions about graffiti. Terrance Lindall
Terrance Lindall
Terrance Lindall is an American artist who was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1944. Lindall attended the University of Minnesota and graduated magna cum laude from Hunter College in New York City in 1970, with a double major in Philosophy and English and a double minor in Psychology and Physical...

, an artist and executive director of the Williamsburg Art and Historic Center, said regarding graffiti and the exhibition:

"Graffiti is revolutionary, in my opinion", he says, "and any revolution might be considered a crime. People who are oppressed or suppressed need an outlet, so they write on walls—it's free."


In Australia, art historians have judged some local graffiti of sufficient creative merit to rank them firmly within visual art. Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press
Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world. It is a department of the University of Oxford and is governed by a group of 15 academics appointed by the Vice-Chancellor known as the Delegates of the Press. They are headed by the Secretary to the Delegates, who serves as...

's art history text Australian Painting 1788-2000 concludes with a long discussion of graffiti's key place within contemporary visual culture
Visual culture
Visual Culture as an academic subject is a field of study that generally includes some combination of cultural studies, art history, critical theory, philosophy, and anthropology, by focusing on aspects of culture that rely on visual images.- Overview :...

, including the work of several Australian practitioners.

Artistic graffiti is a modern day offspring of traditional graffiti that has elevated itself from just scrawling words or phrases on a wall, to a complex artistic form of personal expression.

Between March and April 2009, 150 artists exhibited 300 pieces of graffiti at the Grand Palais
Grand Palais
This article contains material abridged and translated from the French and Spanish Wikipedia.The Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées, commonly known as the Grand Palais , is a large historic site, exhibition hall and museum complex located at the Champs-Élysées in the 8th arrondissement of Paris, France...

 in Paris — a clear acceptance of the art form into the French art world
Art world
The art world is composed of all the people involved in the production, commission, preservation, promotion, criticism, and sale of art. Howard S. Becker describes it as "the network of people whose cooperative activity, organized via their joint knowledge of conventional means of doing things,...

.

Many graffiti artists have used their design talents in other artistic endeavors.
In 2009 graffiti artist "Scape" published "GRAFF; the Art & Technique of Graffiti", the world's first book dedicated to displaying the full techniques of creating graffiti art. Other books that focus on graffiti include Faith of Graffiti by Norman Mailer, Trespass by Taschen press, and the comic book Concrete Immortalz
Concrete Immortalz
Concrete Immortalz is an ongoing comic series by graffiti artist Phetus and the Elite Gudz team. It is the first mainstream comic series to feature a graffiti artist as the main protagonist.- Overview :...

 by Elite Gudz
Elite Gudz
Elite Gudz is an independent game and creative studio based in New York, NY. They are best known for their top-downloaded iPhone app, Graffiti Spray Can, and the top rated & top download Xbox Indies title Techno Kitten Adventure...

, which has a graffiti artist as its main character.

Figurines by KAWS
KAWS (artist)
Brian Donnelly , professionally known as KAWS, is a New York-based artist and designer of limited edition toys and clothing. He currently lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.-Biography:...

, featuring icons of pop culture often with x'ed out eyes, run in limited editions and sell for thousands of dollars. World-renowned street artist Banksy
Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

 directed the film Exit Through the Gift Shop
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Guetta happily accepts the assignment, adopting the name "Mr. Brainwash", putting up street art in the city and six months later, re-mortgaging his business to afford renting copious equipment and a complete production team to create pieces of art under his supervision...

, which explored street art and commercialism, in 2010.

Asia

In China, graffiti began with Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

 in the 1920s who used revolutionary slogans and paintings in public places to galvanise the country's communist revolution.
Mao holds the record for the longest piece of graffiti, which contains 4000 characters criticising his teachers and the state of Chinese society.

In Hong Kong, Tsang Tsou Choi
Tsang Tsou Choi
Tsang Tsou Choi , or the "King of Kowloon" was a Hong Kong citizen known for his calligraphy graffiti.-Early years:...

 was known as the King of Kowloon for his calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

 graffiti over many years, in which he claimed ownership of the area. Some of his work is now officially preserved.

In Taiwan
Taiwan
Taiwan , also known, especially in the past, as Formosa , is the largest island of the same-named island group of East Asia in the western Pacific Ocean and located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. The island forms over 99% of the current territory of the Republic of China following...

, the government has made some concessions to graffiti artists. Since 2005 they've been allowed to freely display their work along some sections of riverside retaining walls in designated "Graffiti Zones". From 2007, Taipei's Department of Cultural Affairs also began permitting graffiti on fences around major public construction sites. Department head Yong-ping Lee (李永萍) stated, "We will promote graffiti starting with the public sector, and then later in the private sector too. It's our goal to beautify the city with graffiti". The government later helped organize a graffiti contest in Ximending
Ximending
Ximending is a neighborhood and shopping district in the Wanhua District of Taipei, Taiwan. It was the first pedestrian zone in Taiwan.-Overview:...

, a popular shopping district. Graffiti artists caught working outside of these designated areas still face fines up to $6000 TWD under a Department of Environmental Protection regulation. However, Taiwanese authorities can be relatively lenient, one veteran police officer stating anonymously, "Unless someone complains about vandalism, we won't get involved. We don't go after it proactively."

In 1993 in Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

, after several expensive cars were spray-painted, the police arrested a student from the Singapore American School
Singapore American School
RedWebsiteThe Singapore American School is a private international school in Singapore. Established in 1956, the school offers an American-based curriculum from preschool through to Grade 12 for approximately 3,800 expatriate students, making it the largest international school in the world...

, Michael P. Fay
Michael P. Fay
Michael Peter Fay is an American who briefly shot to international notoriety when he was sentenced to caning in Singapore as an 18-year-old in 1994 for theft and vandalism...

, questioned him and subsequently charged him with vandalism. Fay pleaded guilty to vandalizing the car in addition to stealing road signs. Under the 1966 Vandalism Act
Vandalism Act (Singapore)
The Vandalism Act is a statute of the Parliament of Singapore that criminalizes a number of different acts done in relation to public and private property, namely, stealing, destroying or damaging public property; and, without the property owner's written consent, writing, drawing, painting,...

 of Singapore, originally passed to curb the spread of communist graffiti in Singapore, the court sentenced him to four months in jail, a fine of S$3,500 (US$2,233), and a caning
Caning
Caning is a form of corporal punishment consisting of a number of hits with a single cane usually made of rattan, generally applied to the offender's bare or clothed buttocks or hand . Application of a cane to the knuckles or the shoulders has been much less common...

. The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

ran several editorials and op-eds that condemned the punishment and called on the American public to flood the Singaporean embassy with protests. Although the Singapore government received many calls for clemency
Pardon
Clemency means the forgiveness of a crime or the cancellation of the penalty associated with it. It is a general concept that encompasses several related procedures: pardoning, commutation, remission and reprieves...

, Fay's caning took place in Singapore on 5 May 1994. Fay had originally received a sentence of six lashes of the cane, but the then President of Singapore
President of Singapore
The President of the Republic of Singapore is Singapore's head of state. In a Westminster parliamentary system, as which Singapore governs itself, the prime minister is the head of the government while the position of president is largely ceremonial. Before 1993, the President of Singapore was...

 Ong Teng Cheong
Ong Teng Cheong
Ong Teng Cheong was the first directly elected President of the Republic of Singapore. He was the nation's fifth President, and served a six-year term from 1 September 1993 to 31 August 1999.-Early life:...

 agreed to reduce his caning sentence to four lashes.

In South Korea, Park Jung-soo
Park Jung-Soo
Park Jung-Soo is a South Korean footballer who plays as midfielder for Busan Kyotong in the Korea National League.Park started his senior career at Daejeon KHNP of Korea National League in 2009. where he stayed until a December 2009 switch to K3 League side Samcheok Shinwoo...

 was fined 2 million South Korean won
South Korean won
The won is the currency of South Korea. A single won is divided into 100 jeon, the monetary subunit. The jeon is no longer used for everyday transactions, and appears only in foreign exchange rates...

 by the Seoul
Seoul
Seoul , officially the Seoul Special City, is the capital and largest metropolis of South Korea. A megacity with a population of over 10 million, it is the largest city proper in the OECD developed world...

 Central District Court for spray-painting a rat on posters of the G-20 Summit a few days before the event in November 2011. Park alleged that the initial in “G-20” sounds like the Korean word for “rat” however Korean government prosecutors alleged that Mr. Park was making a derogatory statement about President of ROK Lee Myung-bak
Lee Myung-bak
Lee Myung-bak is the President of South Korea. Prior to his presidency, he was the CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction and the mayor of Seoul. He is married to Kim Yoon-ok and has three daughters and one son. His older brother is Lee Sang-deuk, a South Korean politician. He attends the...

, the host of the summit. This case led to public outcry and debate on the lack of government tolerance and in support of freedom of expression. The court ruled that the painting “an ominous creature like a rat” amounts to “an organized criminal activity" and upheld the fine while denying the prosecution's request for imprisonment for Park.

Europe

In Europe, community cleaning squads have responded to graffiti, in some cases with reckless abandon, as when in 1992 in France a local Scout group, attempting to remove modern graffiti, damaged two prehistoric paintings of bison
Bison
Members of the genus Bison are large, even-toed ungulates within the subfamily Bovinae. Two extant and four extinct species are recognized...

 in the Cave of Mayrière supérieure near the French village of Bruniquel
Bruniquel
Bruniquel is a commune in the Tarn-et-Garonne department in the Midi-Pyrénées region in southern France.-Geography:The tiny fortified village of 561 inhabitants is at an altitude of 250 metres by the river Aveyron....

 in Tarn-et-Garonne
Tarn-et-Garonne
Tarn-et-Garonne is a French department in the southwest of France. It is traversed by the Rivers Tarn and Garonne, from which it takes its name.-History:...

, earning them the 1992 Ig Nobel Prize
Ig Nobel Prize
The Ig Nobel Prizes are an American parody of the Nobel Prizes and are given each year in early October for ten unusual or trivial achievements in scientific research. The stated aim of the prizes is to "first make people laugh, and then make them think"...

 in archeology.

In September 2006, the European Parliament issued the European Commission to create urban environment policies to prevent and eliminate dirt, litter, graffiti, animals' excrement and excessive noise from domestic and vehicular music systems in European cities, along with other concerns over urban life.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003
Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003
The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which almost entirely applies only to England and Wales. The Act, championed by then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was passed in 2003...

 became Britain's latest anti-graffiti legislation. In August 2004, the Keep Britain Tidy
Keep Britain Tidy
Keep Britain Tidy is a British campaign run by the Keep Britain Tidy environmental charity, which is part funded by the UK government. The majority of their campaigning is around the issue of litter. They have been using "Keep Britain Tidy" as their slogan for almost fifty years...

 campaign issued a press release calling for zero tolerance
Zero tolerance
Zero tolerance imposes automatic punishment for infractions of a stated rule, with the intention of eliminating undesirable conduct. Zero-tolerance policies forbid persons in positions of authority from exercising discretion or changing punishments to fit the circumstances subjectively; they are...

 of graffiti and supporting proposals such as issuing "on the spot" fines to graffiti offenders and banning the sale of aerosol paint to anyone under the age of 16. The press release also condemned the use of graffiti images in advertising and in music video
Music video
A music video or song video is a short film integrating a song and imagery, produced for promotional or artistic purposes. Modern music videos are primarily made and used as a marketing device intended to promote the sale of music recordings...

s, arguing that real-world experience of graffiti stood far removed from its often-portrayed 'cool' or 'edgy' image.

To back the campaign, 123 MP
Member of Parliament
A Member of Parliament is a representative of the voters to a :parliament. In many countries with bicameral parliaments, the term applies specifically to members of the lower house, as upper houses often have a different title, such as senate, and thus also have different titles for its members,...

s (including Prime Minister
Prime minister
A prime minister is the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch of government in a parliamentary system. In many systems, the prime minister selects and may dismiss other members of the cabinet, and allocates posts to members within the government. In most systems, the prime...

 Tony Blair
Tony Blair
Anthony Charles Lynton Blair is a former British Labour Party politician who served as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007. He was the Member of Parliament for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007 and Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007...

) signed a charter which stated: Graffiti is not art, it's crime. On behalf of my constituents, I will do all I can to rid our community of this problem. However, in the last couple of years the British graffiti scene has been struck by self-titled 'art terrorist' Banksy
Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

, who has revolutionized the style of UK graffiti (bringing to the forefront stencils to aid the speed of painting) as well as the content; making his work largely satirical of the sociological state of cities, or the political climate of war, often using monkeys and rats as motifs.

In the UK, city councils have the power to take action against the owner of any property that has been defaced under the Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003
Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003
The Anti-social Behaviour Act 2003 is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom which almost entirely applies only to England and Wales. The Act, championed by then Home Secretary, David Blunkett, was passed in 2003...

 (as amended by the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005) or, in certain cases, the Highways Act. This is often used against owners of property that are complacent in allowing protective boards to be defaced so long as the property is not damaged.
In July 2008, a conspiracy
Conspiracy (crime)
In the criminal law, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more persons to break the law at some time in the future, and, in some cases, with at least one overt act in furtherance of that agreement...

 charge was used to convict graffiti artists for the first time. After a three-month police surveillance operation, nine members of the DPM crew were convicted of conspiracy to commit criminal damage costing at least £1 million. Five of them received prison sentences, ranging from 18 months to two years. The unprecedented scale of the investigation and the severity of the sentences rekindled public debate over whether graffiti should be considered art or crime.
Some councils, like that at Stroud
Stroud
Stroud a town and civil parish in the county of Gloucestershire, England.Stroud may also refer to:*Stroud, New South Wales, Australia*Stroud, Ontario, Canada*Stroud , Gloucestershire, UK*Stroud...

, Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

 and Loerrach provide approved areas round the town where graffiti artists can showcase their talents, including underpasses, car parks and walls that might otherwise prove a target for the 'spray and run.'

In Budapest
Budapest
Budapest is the capital of Hungary. As the largest city of Hungary, it is the country's principal political, cultural, commercial, industrial, and transportation centre. In 2011, Budapest had 1,733,685 inhabitants, down from its 1989 peak of 2,113,645 due to suburbanization. The Budapest Commuter...

, Hungary both a city-backed movement called I Love Budapest and a special police division tackle the problem, including the provision of approved areas.

Australia

In an effort to reduce vandalism, many cities in Australia have designated walls or areas exclusively for use by graffiti artists. One early example is the "Graffiti Tunnel" located at the Camperdown
Camperdown, New South Wales
Camperdown is an inner-city suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Camperdown is located 4 kilometres south-west of the Sydney central business district and is part of the Inner West region...

 Campus of the University of Sydney
University of Sydney
The University of Sydney is a public university located in Sydney, New South Wales. The main campus spreads across the suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington on the southwestern outskirts of the Sydney CBD. Founded in 1850, it is the oldest university in Australia and Oceania...

, which is available for use by any student at the University to tag, advertise, poster and create "art". Advocates of this idea suggest that this discourages petty vandalism yet encourages artists to take their time and produce great art, without worry of being caught or arrested for vandalism or trespassing. Others disagree with this approach, arguing that the presence of legal graffiti walls does not demonstrably reduce illegal graffiti elsewhere. Some Local Government Areas around Australia have introduced "anti-graffiti squads", who clean graffiti in the area, and such crews as BCW (Buffers Can't Win) have taken steps to keep one step ahead of local graffiti cleaners.

Many state governments have banned the sale or possession of spray paint to those under the age of 18 (age of majority). However, a number of Local Governments in Victoria have taken steps to recognize the cultural heritage value of some examples of graffiti, such as prominent political graffiti. Tough new graffiti laws have been introduced in Australia with fines of up to A$26,000 and two years in prison.

Melbourne
Melbourne
Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

 is a prominent graffiti city of Australia with many of its lanes being tourist attractions, such as Hosier Lane
Hosier Lane, Melbourne
Hosier Lane is a bluestone cobbled vehicular and pedestrian laneway on the southern edge of the central city grid of Melbourne, Australia. Hosier lane is a much celebrated landmark in Melbourne mainly due to its sophisticated Urban art....

 in particular, a popular destination for photographers, wedding photography and backdrops for corporate print advertising. The Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet is the largest travel guide book and digital media publisher in the world. The company is owned by BBC Worldwide, which bought a 75% share from the founders Maureen and Tony Wheeler in 2007 and the final 25% in February 2011...

 travel guide cites Melbourne's street are as a major attraction. Everything including; sticker
Sticker
A sticker is a type of a piece of paper or plastic, adhesive, sticky on one side, and usually with a design on the other. They can be used for decoration, depending on the situation. They can come in many different shapes, sizes and colours and are put on things such as lunchboxes, in children's...

 art, poster
Poster
A poster is any piece of printed paper designed to be attached to a wall or vertical surface. Typically posters include both textual and graphic elements, although a poster may be either wholly graphical or wholly text. Posters are designed to be both eye-catching and informative. Posters may be...

, stencil
Stencil
A stencil is a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material. The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to...

 art and wheatpasting can be found in many places throughout the city. Prominent street art precincts include; Fitzroy
Fitzroy, Victoria
Fitzroy is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2 km north-east from Melbourne's central business district. Its Local Government Area is the City of Yarra. Its borders are Alexandra Parade , Victoria Parade , Smith Street and Nicholson Street. Fitzroy is Melbourne's...

, Collingwood
Collingwood, Victoria
Collingwood is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3 km north-east from Melbourne's central business district. Its Local Government Area is the City of Yarra...

, Northcote
Northcote, Victoria
Northcote is a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 7 km north-east from Melbourne's central business district. Its Local Government Area is the City of Darebin...

, Brunswick
Brunswick, Victoria
Brunswick is a suburb in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 6 km north from Melbourne's central business district. Its Local Government Area is the City of Moreland...

, St. Kilda
St Kilda, Victoria
St Kilda is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 6 km south from Melbourne's central business district. Its Local Government Area is the City of Port Phillip...

 and the CBD, where stencil and sticker art is prominent. As you move further away from the city, mostly along suburban train lines, graffiti tags become more prominent. Many international artists such as Banksy
Banksy
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

 have left their work in Melbourne and in early 2008 a perspex screen was installed to prevent a Banksy stencil art piece from being destroyed, it has survived since 2003 through the respect of local street artists avoiding posting over it, although it has recently had paint tipped over it.

New Zealand

In February 2008 Helen Clark
Helen Clark
Helen Elizabeth Clark, ONZ is a New Zealand political figure who was the 37th Prime Minister of New Zealand for three consecutive terms from 1999 to 2008...

, the New Zealand Prime Minister at that time, announced a government crackdown on tagging and other forms of graffiti vandalism, describing it as a destructive crime representing an invasion of public and private property. New legislation subsequently adopted included a ban on the sale of paint spray cans to persons under 18 and increases in maximum fines for the offence from NZ$200 to NZ$2,000 or extended community service. The issue of tagging become a widely debated one following an incident in Auckland
Auckland
The Auckland metropolitan area , in the North Island of New Zealand, is the largest and most populous urban area in the country with residents, percent of the country's population. Auckland also has the largest Polynesian population of any city in the world...

 during January 2008 where a middle aged property owner stabbed one of two teenage taggers to death and was subsequently convicted of manslaughter
Manslaughter
Manslaughter is a legal term for the killing of a human being, in a manner considered by law as less culpable than murder. The distinction between murder and manslaughter is said to have first been made by the Ancient Athenian lawmaker Dracon in the 7th century BC.The law generally differentiates...

.

United States

Aggregation of Damage - Police and Prosecution use of Graffiti Tracker Databases

Graffiti databases have increased in the past decade because they allow vandalism incidents to be fully documented against an offender and help the police and prosecution charge and prosecute offenders for multiple counts of vandalism. They also provide law enforcement the ability to rapidly search for an offender’s moniker or tag in a simple, effective and comprehensive way. These systems can also help track costs of damage to city to help allocate an anti graffiti budget. The theory is that when an offender is caught putting up graffiti, they are not just charged with one count of vandalism; they can be held accountable for all of the other damage for which they are responsible. This has two main benefits for law enforcement. One, it sends a signal to the offenders that their vandalism is being tracked. Two, a city can seek restitution from offenders for all of the damage that they have committed, not merely a single incident. These systems give law enforcement personnel real-time, street-level intelligence that allows them to not only focuses on the worst graffiti offenders and their damage, but also to monitor potential gang violence that is associated with the graffiti.

Police Response - Gang Injunctions

Many restrictions of civil gang injunctions are designed to help address and protect the physical environment and limit graffiti. Provisions of gang injunctions include things such as restricting the possession of marker pens, spray paint cans, or other sharp objects capable of defacing private or public property; spray painting, or marking with marker pens, scratching, applying stickers or otherwise applying graffiti on any public or private property, including but not limited to the street, alley, residences, block walls and fences, vehicles and/or any other real or personal property. Some injunctions contain wording that restricts damaging or vandalizing the property of another, both public and private property, including but limited to any vehicle, light fixture, door, fence, wall, gate, window, building, street sign, utility box, telephone box, trees, or power pole.
Graffiti Hotlines and Reward Programs

To help address many of these issues, many local jurisdictions have set up graffiti abatement hotlines, where citizens can call in and report vandalism and have it removed. San Diego’s hotline receives over 5000 calls per year, in addition to reporting the graffiti, callers can learn more about prevention. One of the complaints about these hotlines is the response time, there is often a lag time between a property owner calling about the graffiti and the actual removal of it. The length of delay should be a consideration for any jurisdiction planning on operating a hotline. Local jurisdictions must convince the callers that their complaint of vandalism will be a priority and cleaned off right away. If the jurisdiction does not have the resources to respond to complaints in a timely manner, the value of the hotline diminishes. Crews must be able to respond to individual service calls made to the graffiti hotline as well as focus on cleanup near schools, parks and major intersections and transit routes to have the biggest impact. Some cities offer a reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of suspects for tagging or graffiti related vandalism. The amount of the reward is based on the information provided and the action taken.
Police Response - Graffiti Search Warrants

When the police use search warrants in connection with a vandalism investigation they are often seeking judicial approval to look for items such as cans of spray paint and nozzles from other kinds of aerosol sprays, etching tools or other sharp or pointed objects used to etch or scratch glass and other hard surfaces, and permanent marking pens, such as markers or paint sticks; evidence of membership or affiliation with any gang or tagging crew, paraphernalia to include any reference to “(tagger’s name),” and any drawings, writings, objects or graffiti depicting taggers’ names, initials, logos, monikers, slogans, or mention of tagging crew membership; any newspaper clippings relating details of or referring to any graffiti crime.

Documentaries and films

  • 80 Blocks from Tiffany's
    80 Blocks From Tiffany's
    80 Blocks From Tiffany's is a 1979 documentary directed by Gary Weis. It depicted the daily life of gangs within the context of the South Bronx...

    (1979) – A rare glimpse into late '70s New York towards the end of the infamous South Bronx gangs. The documentary shows many sides of the mainly Puerto Rican community of the South Bronx, including reformed gang members, current gang members, the police, and the community leaders who try to reach out to them.
  • Stations of the Elevated (1980), the earliest documentary about subway graffiti in New York City, with music by Charles Mingus
  • Wild Style
    Wild Style
    Wild Style is a 1983 hip hop film produced by Charlie Ahearn. Released theatrically in 1983 by First Run Features and later re-released for home video by Rhino Home Video, it is regarded as the first hip hop motion picture...

    (1983), a drama about hip hop and graffiti culture in New York City
  • Style Wars
    Style Wars
    Style Wars is a 1983 documentary on hip hop culture, directed by Tony Silver and produced by Tony Silver and Henry Chalfant. The film has an emphasis on graffiti, although bboying and rapping are covered to a lesser extent...

    (1983), an early documentary on hip hop culture, made in New York City
  • Quality of Life (2004) a graffiti drama shot in the Mission District of San Francisco, starring and co-written by a retired graffiti writer.
  • Piece by Piece
    Piece by Piece (documentary)
    Piece By Piece is a documentary film directed by Nic Hill. The film documents San Francisco's graffiti culture from the early 1980s to 2004. It is narrated by San Francisco graffiti artist Senor One, better known as Renos...

    (2005), a feature-length documentary on the history of San Francisco graffiti from the early 1980s until the present day.
  • Infamy (2005), a feature-length documentary about graffiti culture as told through the experiences of six well-known graffiti writers and a graffiti buffer.
  • NEXT: A Primer on Urban Painting
    NEXT: A Primer on Urban Painting
    Next: A Primer on Urban Painting is a 2005 documentary film from Canadian filmmaker Pablo Aravena, exploring creative urban visual culture.- External links :* - An Interview with Pablo Aravena...

    (2005), a documentary about global graffiti culture
  • RASH
    RASH (film)
    Rash, stylized as RASH, is a 2005 Australian documentary film, directed by Nicholas Hansen. Its subject is contemporary urban Australia and the artists who are making it a living host for illegal artwork called street art...

     (2005), a feature documentary about Melbourne, Australia and the artists who make it a living host for illegal artwork called street art.
  • Bomb the System
    Bomb the System
    Bomb the System is a drama film written and directed by Adam Bhala Lough, which was released to film festivals in 2002 and American theaters in 2005. It revolves around a group of graffiti artists living in New York City who decide to make a mark on the city, and stars Mark Webber, Gano Grills,...

    (2002), a drama about a crew of graffiti artists in modern day New York City
  • BOMB IT
    Bomb It
    Bomb It is an international graffiti and street art documentary directed by award-winning director Jon Reiss and premiered at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival...

    (2007), a graffiti and street art documentary filmed on five continents.
  • Jisoe (2007), a glimpse into the life of a Melbourne
    Melbourne
    Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The Melbourne City Centre is the hub of the greater metropolitan area and the Census statistical division—of which "Melbourne" is the common name. As of June 2009, the greater...

    , Australia graffiti writer. Shows the audience an example of graffiti in struggling Melbourne areas
  • Roadsworth: Crossing the Line (2009) is a Canadian documentary about Montréal artist Peter Gibson and his controversial stencil art on public roads.
  • "Exit Through The Gift Shop
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Guetta happily accepts the assignment, adopting the name "Mr. Brainwash", putting up street art in the city and six months later, re-mortgaging his business to afford renting copious equipment and a complete production team to create pieces of art under his supervision...

    " (2010) is a documentary produced by the notorious artist Banksy
    Banksy
    Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

     tells the story of Thierry Guetta, a French immigrant in Los Angeles
    Los Ángeles
    Los Ángeles is the capital of the province of Biobío, in the commune of the same name, in Region VIII , in the center-south of Chile. It is located between the Laja and Biobío rivers. The population is 123,445 inhabitants...

    , and his obsession with street art. Shepard Fairey
    Shepard Fairey
    Frank Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary graphic designer, and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his "André the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign, in which he appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. His...

     and Invader (artist)
    Invader (artist)
    Invader is a French urban artist who pastes up characters from and inspired by the Space Invaders game, made up of small coloured square mosaic tiles that form a space invader character murel...

    , who Guetta discovers is his cousin, are also in the film.
  • "Graffiti Wars" (2011), documentary detailing King Robbo
    King Robbo
    King Robbo is an English underground graffiti artist who became more widely known following a graffiti war with Banksy. There had been a previous meeting between Robbo and Banksy in the nineties during where Robbo claimed he slapped Banksy, a claim Banksy denied...

    's feud with Banksy
    Banksy
    Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter.His satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine irreverent dark humour with graffiti done in a distinctive stencilling technique...

     aswell as the authorities' differing attitude towards graffiti and street art
    Street art
    Street art is any art developed in public spaces — that is, "in the streets" — though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives...


See also

  • Anti-graffiti coating
  • Graffiti abatement
    Graffiti abatement
    Graffiti abatement is a joint effort between a given community, its Public Works division, Police Department, Community Development, and Parks, Recreation, and Community Services to eliminate graffiti vandalism...

  • Graffiti terminology
    Graffiti terminology
    A number of words and phrases have come to describe different styles and aspects of graffiti. Like other jargon and colloquialisms, some phrases vary in different cities and countries...

  • Kilroy was here
    Kilroy was here
    Kilroy was here is an American popular culture expression, often seen in graffiti. Its origins are debated, but the phrase and the distinctive accompanying doodle—a bald-headed man with a prominent nose peeking over a wall with the fingers of each hand clutching the wall—is widely known among U.S...

  • Kotwica
    Kotwica
    The Kotwica was a World War II emblem of the Polish Secret State and Armia Krajowa . It was created in 1942 by members of the AK Wawer "Small Sabotage" unit as an easily usable emblem for the Polish struggle to regain independence. The initial meaning of the initials "PW" was "Pomścimy Wawer"...

  • Spray paint art
    Spray paint art
    Spray paint art is an art form using spray paint, traditionally on posterboard, but can be done on any non-porous material, such as wood, metal, glass, ceramic or plastic...

  • Stencil
    Stencil
    A stencil is a thin sheet of material, such as paper, plastic, or metal, with letters or a design cut from it, used to produce the letters or design on an underlying surface by applying pigment through the cut-out holes in the material. The key advantage of a stencil is that it can be reused to...

  • Street art
    Street art
    Street art is any art developed in public spaces — that is, "in the streets" — though the term usually refers to unsanctioned art, as opposed to government sponsored initiatives...

  • Vandalism
    Vandalism
    Vandalism is the behaviour attributed originally to the Vandals, by the Romans, in respect of culture: ruthless destruction or spoiling of anything beautiful or venerable...

  • Visual pollution
    Visual pollution
    Visual pollution is the term given to unattractive and man-made visual elements of a vista, a landscape, or any other thing that a person does not feel comfortable to look at. Visual pollution is an aesthetic issue, referring to the impacts of pollution that impair one's ability to enjoy a vista or...

  • Yarn bombing
    Yarn bombing
    Yarn bombing, yarnbombing, yarnstorming, guerrilla knitting, or graffiti knitting is a type of graffiti or street art that employs colorful displays of knitted or crocheted cloth rather than paint or chalk.-Method and motivation:...



External links

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