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Marlborough House School

But is it Art?

One of our Year 8 pupils ponders how we feel about Street Art?

How do you feel about street art? Do you think that graffiti is art or just the vandalising of beautiful buildings?  Many people would say that graffiti is a horrible way of ruining our towns and city’s walls, but others may say that this is the new modern art of the world and is something to admire. Should we embrace this new take on art, or should it be over looked and discouraged for the younger generations?

There are different types of graffiti such as tagging, where you just write your name in spray paint and do not create an image out of it. The second type of graffiti is leaving a hidden message behind the initial picture, which the person may have painted, which has some significance to the viewer; this could be about political or governmental rulings, such as ‘Hope’ made by Shepard Fairey. The third type is spray painting on a building to express opinion or a painting with a meaning. The final type is spray painting on a building for commission for business reasons or personal pleasure. Art is a way of expressing an opinion to an audience and creating a replica of what you feel or see. So surely, this art form is just as valid?

Graffiti is art because art is a way of expressing an opinion. In art, there are many different mediums such as pencil, ceramics, painting and recently virtual reality; so should graffiti just be accepted as another medium? Many people would say that the graffiti pictures, like those done by Banksy, are art because they portray an image, which is good to look at even though it changes the scenery of that area. Others would say that the tagging is art as it shows where a person was and how they felt so they wrote their name in a specific way. Some people may believe that commissioned graffiti is also art because it has not been computer generated, it is better than the mass-produced advertising, and what’s more, it is legal. Graffiti is art because it takes a lot of skill and is not an easy thing to achieve. It is especially hard not being caught by the police but it does allow people to express how they feel to the world. It is a quick way of making art, as you have to be swift and can involve the viewer without them being in an art gallery. Banksy, a famous graffiti artist has expressed his feelings about his views on war and incorporates humour in his pieces by showing well-known people or characters expressing their feelings about everyday life.

On the other hand, many would argue that graffiti is not art. They claim that it is vandalising others’ property and therefore cannot be seen as art but as a crime. There are many laws such as The Graffiti Prevention Act 2007, which allows Councils to take down graffiti on private property, people can be fined or even jailed for it. These laws are put in place to be obeyed and respected. There are places where graffiti artists can go and paint without being fined or punished. This means that it would stop the destruction of beautiful buildings and keep graffiti in confined areas, which would please the public and artists alike. Others state that graffiti is wrong as some graffiti can be seen as pointless or meaningless so cannot be seen as art. Some artists and people would say that graffiti with a meaning is art as it is passing on a message to the viewer such as political art and art about modern affairs but graffiti without a message behind it cannot be seen as art.  What do you think?

I believe that graffiti is art. No art, I believe, is pointless, as it has captured a moment of what one person is thinking or considering and graffiti should be embraced by the modern society. Personally, I prefer graffiti, which creates an image. I especially like pieces by Banksy such as ‘Stop Wars’ as it is making the public think about modern society and peace. It is taking a familiar part of modern society, by changing ‘Star Wars’ into ‘Stop Wars’ and making the viewer think differently. The cave paintings in Lascaux are the earliest forms of graffiti, they are respected and admired by the public. Why should not this happen to the graffiti of the present day? Therefore, I say that graffiti should be respected as art.