A wall covered with throwups
Graffiti writers get a thrill like that in extreme sports
The term graffiti refers to drawings, patterns, scribbles and messages or tags that are painted, written or
carved on walls and other surfaces. To those whose property is defaced by graffiti the markings are a
form of vandalism that is unwelcome, distressing and difficult to remove.
The problem of graffiti occurs in many different areas, on walls, street furniture, telephone boxes, bus
shelters, monuments and railway land. Graffiti tends not to be widespread but focused in hotspots,
where the problem is intense. When it does occur it is highly visible and has a huge impact on the public
in their perception of the area. This is highlighted in a recent survey in which 77% of Londoners listed
graffiti as a quality of life concern.
The cost of graffiti
The estimated cost of graffiti to the country is over £1 billion a year. The London Underground alone
believes it costs up £2.5m annually to clear up graffiti.
The local authority is responsible for removing graffiti from their land. Graffiti found on items such as
telephone boxes, bus shelters and electricity boxes is the responsibility of the company that has placed
them there, for example telecoms and utility companies. Although private buildings are not the local
authority’s responsibility they will often assist with removal.
Graffiti - The Law
Those caught causing graffiti can be prosecuted under the Criminal Damage Act 1971. If the damage
caused is less than £5,000 the maximum fine is £5,000 although fines are generally much less than this.
Young offenders may be given a community service order. Prosecutions for graffiti are infrequent.
Under the Anti-social Behaviour Act local authorities can issue fixed penalty notices to anyone caught in
the act of producing graffiti. The New Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act has increased this to
£75. Local authorities were also given powers to remove graffiti from telephone boxes, etc. and to
recover costs from the owner.
Graffiti costs Londoners £100m
(…) Local authorities spent a combined £7m scrubbing the walls of schools, hospitals and businesses.
Transport companies spent £6m removing daubings from buses and trains. On top of those costs, the
Assembly's graffiti committee investigated the amount lost to the capital's economy from (…)
The overall total came to an estimated £100m.
The study also found graffiti vandals were not just from poor backgrounds. "But there is evidence today
that individuals from well-ordered and 'better-off' families are also turning to graffiti as a pastime," the
report says.
Andrew Pelling, the chairman of the London Assembly committee, said graffiti resulted in unacceptable
costs to Londoners. "The growing costs encountered by the taxpayer and the impact on London's
economy means vital cash is not being used to improve our public services.
Legislation call
"It deters businesses from investing in communities."
The Assembly is calling for the Government to introduce legislation to ban the sale of graffiti materials to
minors. (…)
Thursday July 17, 2003 The Guardian
Something to spray
You may not have heard of him, but you've probably seen his work. From policemen with smiley faces to
the Pulp Fiction killers firing bananas, Banksy's subversive images are daubed on walls everywhere and now he's putting on an exhibition. Simon Hattenstone meets Britain's No 1 graffiti artist
Banksy is Britain's most celebrated graffiti artist, but anonymity is vital to him because graffiti is illegal.
The day he goes public is the day the graffiti ends.
His black and white stencils are beautiful, witty and gently subversive: policemen with smiley faces, rats
with drills, monkeys with weapons of mass destruction (or, when the mood takes him, mass disruption).
Stencils by Banksy
Sometimes there are just words, in the same chunky typeface - puns and ironies, statements and
incitements. At traditional landmarks, he often signs "This is not a photo opportunity". On establishment
buildings he may sign "By Order National Highways Agency This Wall Is A Designated Graffiti Area".
(Come back a few days later, and people will have obediently tagged the wall.) (…)
It is easy to become addicted to his work. Since spotting my first few Banksies, I have been desperately
seeking out more. (…) They feel personal, as if they are just for me, and they feel public as if they are a
gift for everyone. They make me smile and feel optimistic about the possibilities of shared dreams and
common ownership. (…)
I ask him if you need to be nimble to be a good graffiti artist. "Yeah, it's all part of the job description. Any
idiot can get caught. The art to it is not getting picked up for it, and that's the biggest buzz at the end of
the day because you could stick all my shit in Tate Modern Gallery (…) and it wouldn't be as exciting as
it is when you go out and you paint something big where you shouldn't do. The feeling you get when you
sit home on the sofa at the end of that, having a fag and thinking there's no way they're going to rumble
me, it's amazing... better than sex, better than drugs, the buzz."
He talks about the fun he had at Glastonbury this year. "The police seemed to feel very relaxed, and
they were driving Land Rovers. We found two parked up with the cops out chatting to girls (…) and I
nearly always carry a can of paint, so I just walked up and did a random swiggle on the side of one, and
then handed the can of paint to my friend who wrote 'Hash for cash' on the side of another. By the end of
that night, we had done seven police vehicles with aerosol." He says he has been arrested for graffiti in
the past, but not in recent years, and never as Banksy.
Was it a tough decision to exhibit in a gallery? No, he says - first of all, this is hardly a posh gallery, it's
an old warehouse. Second, without a formal space, how could he possibly display his live sheep, pigs
and cows? Actually, he says, graffiti is by definition rather proscriptive. "Most councils are committed to
removing offensive graffiti within 24 hours, anything racist, sexist or homophobic, they will send out a
team within 24 hours." But somehow if it's "art" in a gallery, the boundaries of taste aren't so rigidly
defined. (…)
The Graffiti Management Program (GMP) has developed the Donate a Wall Program because it has
been proven that a mural is less likely to be “tagged” than a bare wall. A mural can act as a deterrent
to future graffiti, enhance the aesthetics of the building and community as well as provide a medium
for artists to display their work.
If your property has been the target of graffiti you may qualify to have a mural put on your building.
The GMP will supply the paint and accessories needed to complete the mural as well as the necessary
permits and public consultation.
The qualifying property owner will be responsible for collaborating with the artist to develop a theme
for the proposed mural and negotiating a fee for the artist’s services. The artist will be responsible for
developing a colour sketch to scale no larger than 11”x17”, and submitting it to the GMP. Once the
sketch has been submitted it will be reviewed to insure the mural guidelines have been followed, and
for final approval. In most instances once the sketch is approved the mural can be started within a
few days.
11) Only locations with graffiti will be considered for the Donate a Wall Program.
22) The mural should enhance the building, local environment, community identity and should also
contribute to the visual quality of the City.
33) Murals incorporating direct advertising, any trade marks, racial/religious/political acts or
statements will not be approved.
44) Murals should be adequately maintained, cleaned and repaired as necessary.
55) The sketch of the mural must be completed in the colours intended to be used, done to scale
and portray how the mural will appear on the wall incorporating windows, doors, awnings etc. The
sketch should also be accompanied by a statement from the artist detailing the theme, meaning
and relevance of the mural.
Our Mission:
Graffiti is not just words and symbols sprayed on a wall. Graffiti is an act of vandalism that costs
hundreds of thousands of dollars to clean up every year.
If not immediately removed, graffiti sends out the message that “nobody cares” about the area. It causes
the area to look unsafe and makes people concerned about their personal safety. This creates an open
invitation for more littering, loitering, and other graffiti. As a result of graffiti, pride in a community may
decrease, businesses may suffer, and neighbourhoods as a whole can deteriorate.
Areas filled with graffiti are less appealing to those who may be looking to buy or rent property. Property
becomes more difficult to sell and values are reduced.
Graffiti, done without the owner’s permission is not art, it's a CRIME!
Minimizing graffiti on your property begins with keeping the property clean and well maintained.
Fencing, increased lighting, and motion sensor lighting all contribute to reducing crime, including graffiti,
in your neighbourhood. On vulnerable walls, use clinging vegetation, like ivy, to eliminate large writing
If your property has been tagged with graffiti, rapid removal, notably within 24 to 48 hours, will reduce
the chance of being tagged again.
If your building has a sensitive surface, such as brick or stucco, consider applying a protective antigraffiti coating. This is especially advantageous if your property is repeatedly targeted with graffiti.
Have a neighbourhood meeting to discuss solutions. Form a neighbourhood graffiti removal crew.
Adopt a street, park, school, church, or business that is a target for graffiti. Involve young people in the
Graffiti Art: An Essay Concerning The Recognition of Some Forms of Graffiti As Art
George C. Stowers
Phil 651 Aesthetics
Fall 1997
Graffiti art is an art form. The reasons, including aesthetic criteria, as to why it is an art form far outweigh
the criticism of illegality, incoherence, and non-standard presentation. The objective of this paper is to
explain how graffiti art overcomes these concerns and thereby can be considered as an art form.
Suppose that Leonardo, Monet, Picasso, or any of the recognized artisans of Western European culture
were alive in the present day. Then, suppose that one of these famous artists decided to paint a
masterpiece on the side of your house or on your front door or on a wall in your neighborhood. Would
Picasso or Monet's markings be graffiti or art or vandalism or graffiti art? The answer may vary across
people, but I would claim that those markings are art in the form of graffiti. Their markings would qualify
as vandalism only if they appeared on private or public property without permission. The same answer
holds for the present day genre of graffiti known as graffiti art.
Graffiti art originated in the late 1960s, and it has been developing ever since. However, it is not readily
accepted as being art like those works that are found in a gallery or a museum. It is not strictly denied
the status of genuine art because of a lack of form or other base aesthetic elements. Most of the
opposition to graffiti art is due to its location and bold, unexpected, and unconventional presentation, but
its presentation and often illegal location does not necessarily disqualify it as art.
(…) Some artists see themselves as revolutionaries reacting against the established art market or gallery
system in that art is not only that which appears in the gallery as determined by the curator. Some artists
also view their creations on public and private spaces as a statement against Western ideas of
capitalism and private property. Of course, the majority of graffitists enjoy what they do and find it to be
fun, rewarding, and exciting. (…)
Another challenge to graffiti art is that it is forced upon the public because people have no say in its
production despite the fact that public funds are used to remove it. Graffitists counter with the argument
that buildings, billboards, campaign ads, and flyers are also forced on the public in a similar manner.
Spray can art suffers other criticisms because of the generic characterization of all graffiti as being gang
related and simply a matter of tagging. However, only 20% of graffiti is gang related, and it should be
noted that not all instances of graffiti art are good examples of the art form; just like not all framed artistic
creations are good examples of painting or even worthy of being called art.