Here below is a workshop I did with some international Students in South London with a company called ISIS.

Is Graffiti art?

Graffiti artists across the globe today express their thoughts in multi coloured displays on all surfaces around us. However one could claim that it is visually impairing and the laws against it are not strict enough, as people’s properties are unwillingly defaced. Therefore to what extent can graffiti be considered art?
On one hand graffiti by definition can be considered art; a personal visual perspective is created by producing something beautiful or extraordinary. Graffiti artists take much time and effort in practicing technique, covering portfolios prior to visually entertaining the public, devoting countless hours in contrast to some ‘art’ on display at the Tate Modern. For example murals are painted in memory of respected people and events on places such as the Berlin Wall to improve our landscape and remind passersby. In addition art is an output of feelings and emotions which can express and inform particular issues of society. ‘Banksy’s’ politically satirical pieces share a conscious of many less risk taking, thrill seeking bystanders. He has beautified walls in the Gaza strip because it improves the scenery, like abandoned buildings and railways that would otherwise remain bland and ugly. Furthermore graffiti is a symbol of freedom. Freedom of speech is a right people have died for. Graffiti artists risk everything for their visualisations to be expressed, acknowledging that prosecution is a certainty if caught. Surely other crimes facing our world today warrant more focus?
On the other hand graffiti is vandalism and is illegal for many reasons. Aggravation and annoyance are caused by vandals destroying private property without consent. For instance places of worship in poorer areas are canvases for these CFC emitters, in turn offending countless religious communities. Imagine how the ‘artist’ would feel if their property were devalued and ruined with their own tools. Why shouldn’t these artists use their talent in much more constructive ways? There are the facilities to produce graffiti legally, even whole areas in Paris. ‘Artists’ run small businesses to the ground by ‘tagging’ shop fronts which put off potential customers. Consequently graffiti removal teams are paid to clean the walls by the taxpayers as the works can promote gangs, racism and even anti-Semitism; this is all very expensive and subsequently necessary to reduce crime.
Altogether the fact is that graffiti is both art and vandalism and it will persist for eternity. I believe it is a heavily controversial genre of art; however some creations amaze me to the extent of appreciation, much more than some conceptual modern art I have observed. That is why I do it legally and do it in a way that both can be preserved and enjoyed, without harming anyone.

Robert Hall

For comments and debate the conversation I started can be found at:

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