Everyone has their own unique take on art. Author E.A. Bucchianeri wrote, “Art is in the eye of the beholder, and everyone will have their own interpretation.” But where is graffiti’s place in the art world? Graffiti has its origins in 1970s New York, when young people began to use spray paint and other materials to create images on buildings and on the sides of subway trains. Although, technically speaking, ancient cave art is also a form of graffiti.
Here’s a question for you: Is it art or is it vandalism? The public is pretty much split on the idea, which isn’t surprising. It’s strange how, as a society, we almost overwhelmingly value and appreciate cave art and yet generally vilify urban graffiti art when they’re really just two creative peas in a vibrant, colorful pod.
Personally, I think some graffiti art is nothing short of a visual masterpiece. I’ve seen so many beautiful works of art painted on the sides of buildings but at the same time, I’ve seen some pretty atrocious ones as well. Have you ever had to wait for a train and as you’re sitting there waiting for yours, you’re left sitting there watching all the other train cars go by? That’s when you really see some “winners” let me tell ya. Gang slang, random dicks, and a bunch of generally incoherent pieces is all it is. Occasionally something that took a little effort will sneak by, but not often.
There’s also been more than a few times where I’ve come across graffiti on the sides of buildings in urban landscapes that don’t particularly hold any artistic merit or, in some cases, even basic spelling. With that said, I’m well aware that some words are misspelled on purpose for whatever reason like perhaps it holds some sort of hidden message or something unique to the artist. At the end of the day, graffiti is art and art is always up for interpretation but there are only so many ways you can interpret a poorly rendered picture of the word “ketchup” on the side of a building.
I live in a suburb and recently I’ve noticed more and more graffiti popping up, but unfortunately, it’s not the pretty kind. If it were, I’d have no issue whatsoever as I’m sure it would brighten the place up and be something nice and unique to look at.
Generally speaking, I think that graffiti artists are extremely talented and the art they craft can extend far beyond spectacular. I know I’ve seen quite a few amazing murals in some places, hell, I’ve even seen businesses pay graffiti artists to come up with something unique and thought-invoking on their walls. Not only can a well-painted piece of graffiti be fresh and edgy, but it can also be a one-of-a-kind talking piece that customers are sure to remember. In a world that loves remaking classics and imitating the art that came before it, a uniquely crafted work of graffiti could do wonders for a small up-and-coming business, or even a well-established one for that matter. Unfortunately, those types of graffiti artists don’t live in my town. I’m not sure what one would call them, but artists they are not. Cause what passes for graffiti art around here is severely lacking in any artistic talent whatsoever. I know that might sound harsh, but come on. Those of us who have to look at the end product deserve better.
If you’re wondering what I came across to prompt this critique, it was nothing more than a simple statement written in plain black spray paint that said, “I like my bad habits best surved cold.” Yep, you read that right, “surved” instead of “served.” There doesn’t seem to be any reason to spell served as surved, at least, not that I could find. And believe me, I spent entirely too long searching for a reason… any reason. Even if there was a hidden purpose behind the misspelling, the art itself was extra lackluster. Perhaps if it wasn’t, I could have overlooked the bad spelling but at the end of the day, it was just ugly and horribly executed. If you’re going to misspell something, whether on purpose or by accident, there should at least be some artistic merit behind the effort. Hell, I’d even take an emotionally or politically charged statement such as “eat the rich” or “make love, not war,” you know, something we can all get behind. It just seems like a waste of time to deface public property with something like the word “surved.”
I don’t know what I’m hoping to accomplish with this little rant, but I guess if I can discourage at least one bad graffiti artist from ruining a wall somewhere, then this post will have “surved” its purpose.
This is what happens when they cut art programs at school. The graffiti sucks.