Graffiti counts as a visual art form


Photo credit: Jaime Munoz

I hear people complain that graffiti artists are vandalizing our community with scribbles, but I consider them artists. When people talk about graffiti, it’s usually thought of with negative connotations, but “art is in the eye of the beholder.

It’s unfortunate that people don’t see graffiti as art because artists have to vandalize walls to showcase their art. The likelihood of a community offering money for someone to graffiti a mural somewhere in town is zero to none. I understand why the community is mad, I don’t like the idea of people going around and vandalizing other people’s properties either. This gives a bad reputation to the graffiti artists who are trying to make a living for themselves.

According to Google dictionary, art is defined as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

Graffiti art is another form of an artist using their creative skill as an expression in a visual form. So why shouldn’t it be considered art? It can mean from a colorful mural with a meaningful message, to stenciling letters or images that protest against something. In each case, the idea of graffiti art is to make a statement.

According to George C. Towers, based on aesthetic criteria, graffiti can be considered an art form. He compares between simple tags and more complicated pieces, stating that tags should not be considered art but larger pieces that require planning and artistic elements.

“Graffiti art has a function of not only communicating to others, but it also beautifies the community by appearing on areas that normally would be eyesores, such as a wall in a vacant lot or an abandoned building,” wrote Towers. “Furthermore, all of the aesthetic properties and criteria from the base element of color to the complex issue of artist intention which is ascribed to other works in.”

Like many other art forms, graffiti has evolved over time, creating a change of lifestyle from tagging on subway trains, freeways or an abandoned building. The tools have also changed for a graffiti artist, from street markers and spray paint to stencils, but their main goal is to present something meaningful for the public to remember. There have been artists who have been recognized for the murals they create, and sometimes even have street art shows.

A local graffiti artist from LA who goes by the nickname Vsual1 mentioned that doing graffiti is risky, especially when going out and making their mark to be acknowledged in the graffiti world.

“In a way it is vandalism, you can perceive it the way you want to see it. The point is to get your name out there to be acknowledged in the graffiti world and build a name for yourself because people will be more respectful in that way” said Vsual1. “Walls with art speak words and that’s better than a plain wall and if people were to see my work that makes them feel a type of way then that means I’m doing my job right.”

Furthermore, graffiti is a form of art and not I’m not talking about the random acts of vandalism. I’m referring to the one that moves a community as a whole and represents a message.

Karen Limones can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.