"Graffiti has been around since man encountered his first stone wall" (George 11). I think it is important for people to recognize this long lasting art’s positive impact on society.
Especially for someone living in a big city like Chicago, where graffiti has been popular for almost three decades, it is unrealistic to think it can be avoided (Bisnett 1) . Growing up in
Chicago, I have come across multiple types of street art. Whether I’m using public transportation or just walking down the street, my day is inspired by the creative works of art I encounter. In this paper I argue graffiti, which consists of street art and murals, to be art because it draws emotion, expresses artistic skill, and follows aesthetic as well as organizational principles.
However, I would not consider every piece of graffiti to be art.
For graffiti to be considered art it has to draw emotion. According to the Oxford English
Dictionary, one definition of art is, “the expression or application of creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as a painting, drawing, or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power” (Art 1). Any painting or drawing that has meaning and afflicts emotion is considered art. This applies to graffiti, especially murals, because they usually have a purpose and meaning that draws out emotion.
Another example of how graffiti draws emotion is from a quote in the piece "Tags" from
Hop America by Nelson George, which talks about a group of people called “taggers” and how graffiti was incorporated into their lives. George states “Graffiti was the voice of kids using spray paint and Magic Markers to scream for attention and make art” (12). People used their art to express whatever emotions they were feeling inside in order to be heard by other people. It
seems to be that this was a lifestyle activity for many. Whatever emotions someone was feeling at that point in life whether it be anger, frustration, or passion they were able to express it to the world through the art of graffiti. Another example from the story of “Tags” comes from a young entrepreneurartist, Fred Braithwaite. Braithwaite got together graffiti artists to work in the downtown art scene, and then conjoined them with the punk rock club scene. In “Tags” it states, “his point was that this living, aggressive art was a perfect fit with the same anti establishment attitudes that ruled at punk landmarks like CBGB” (George 12). Just by describing graffiti as a living, aggressive art shows that it brought out some type of emotion and connection.
Braithwaite compares graffiti to punk landmarks, which I think both had emotional effects on people. Another example of how graffiti draws emotion is from an article by the Chicago
Tribune called "Art Of The City Tells City's Tale" by Phat X. Chiem. Chiem states, “Graffiti, along with rap music, breakdancing and deejaying, or spinning records, has always served as an expression of hiphop culture” (2). Graffiti is one type of device used to express culture, more specifically in the case, hiphop culture. Once graffiti was able to express hiphop culture, it actually became an important element of the culture. Being an important element, graffiti enhanced meaning and emotion to anyone who connected to the hiphop culture. The fact that graffiti is able to express this type of emotion is one of the main reasons it is considered an art.
Not only is graffiti art because it draws emotion, it can also be considered art because it demonstrates skill. According to the Oxford English dictionary, another definition for the word art is, “a skill on doing something, especially as the result of knowledge or practice” (Art 127).
In order for something to be considered art, the piece must show it requires skill. Not everyone can paint beautiful murals. It is something one has to acquire that comes