Graffiti art is an uncommissioned urban art revolution by any sense of movement and cultural heritage and a radical contemporary art movement that artists used as a social expression of protest that illustrates ideas from an environmental perspective to convey political or social opinions. It involves the unauthorized spraying, painting or scratching of words and images on buildings, bridges, streets or any other surfaces usually in public places. It is regarded as a form of rebellious art form. It is an evolutionary art movement that arose in New York, Berlin or London, since the mid-1970s to 1980s, that is closely linked with hip-hop culture and the production of elaborately designed as an expression of discontent that associate their selves that often use specific symbols, signatures or ‘tags’ in their graffiti to adopt a particular style that connects an internal language within the culture interacting with the people to convey their relevant messages. Graffiti can be a springboard for the examination of personal identity, commercial design, social history, and community conflict. (Whitehead, J. L., 2015) Within the street art world, graffiti artists do not consider their art work to be defacing public or private property, but rather see it as bringing a voice to the disempowered (Howze, 2008), beauty to an unsightly locale, or developing one’s identity through a pseudonym (Othen, P., 2006). They seek to retain the exciting, outsider, rebellious spirit that originally helped define the graffiti art revolution throughout the years. As it was a “visual representation with a unique and holistic aesthetic” (Kan, 2001, p. 21). Graffiti art is an experiment in identity, working to develop a sense of “self” as the artist progresses artistically and developmentally to express their personal visions, values, and opinions on a daily basis on the streets as their explosive platform as a graffiti artist.
Graffiti art has historically been viewed as a form of vandalism, a curious enigma, and a menace to society. Graffiti art continue to slowly gain notoriety within the walls of famous galleries and museum spaces, yet still take a back seat to that of traditional, mainstream accepted art forms. Although it can be considered as an art, it happens that some of the graffiti artists willfully destruct or damage of a property that adds diminishes of one’s property value. To some particular viewers, they find any given piece of graffiti artistically irrelevant. The world of graffiti, Manco (2002), suggests that, “Graffiti art, as an idea, has always existed alongside other artist endeavors, the difference being that it is a mode of self-expression using methods that are seen as criminal, or outside the conventional art world, rather that specifically sanctioned or commissioned art” (p. 9). In our world today, graffiti artists receive negative public perception. Majority of the complaints are legality of work, diminishing public property, and the expense to remove their artworks.
Graffiti is not a type of vandalism that needs to be countered by artistic arguments. Rather, the people should focus on the evolution of the perception and acceptance of graffiti as a mainstream art form that come from established artistic concepts within our society. People tend to discriminate everything that they view as an inappropriate act but tend to not deeply think on what they discriminate instead of understanding an art. As most of the works expose socio expose socio-political issues and national identity. According to Christiane Della Paz, educating people through the use of visual display or designs in public is not a wrong doing. It is a different way of doing his or her role as an artist and prove to anyone how an art can affect or interact the viewers for them to showcase the appreciation of its beauty. Some artist creates graffiti to express their emotion and feelings in public. Only few can see and understand artworks inside the gallery or home while many can appreciate street art in public area. They like to share their styles, creations, feelings, and learnings to all their viewers. Graffiti artists are very much willing to appreciate public reactions and criticisms to learn and be recognized by others and widen people’s horizon in comprehending the beauty of this type of art genre. Graffiti art is self-aware and projecting its repressed issues in our world onto walls and vertical architecture providing a daily instruction manual for the visual codes and semiotic systems in which we live and move.
On a perspective of a graffiti artist, this form of art is an artistic process of establishing one’s sense of identity. Yet, this is even more so with graffiti than any other form of artistic practice because graffiti is a youth-based art form. Graffiti artists range in age from of 12 to 30, with the vast majority under the age of 18. Graffiti artists create their works during the period of their lives when they are establishing themselves as separate individuals seeking autonomy. By seeking of it, often through acts of rebellion, youth begin the process of establishing their own identity. It motives them artistically that discusses current events, addresses controversy and revolution, makes a statement about society as it speaks actions and illustrates an important discussion that needs to be known. It allows them visually stimulates their mind in the complex world. They view graffiti as a demanded change of our society as well as developing their selves as an artist in our community.
Many artists associated with the “urban art movement” don’t consider themselves “street” or “graffiti” artists, but as artists who consider the city their necessary working environment. It’s a community of practice with its own learned codes, rules, hierarchies of prestige, and means of communication. Graffiti art began as an underground, an archaic public visual surface, and has now become a major part of visual space in many cities and a recognized art movement crossing over into the museum and gallery system.
Graffiti artist express street art contests into two main regimes of visibility—legal and governmental on one side, and artworld or social aesthetic on the other—which creates the conditions within which it must compete for visibility. Graffiti art works against the regimes of government, law, and aesthetics as accepted, self-evident systems that normalize a common world by unconscious rules of visibility and recognition. In each regime, there are rules and codes for what can be made visible or perceptible, who has the legitimacy to be seen and heard where, and who can be rendered invisible as merely the background noise of urban life. Jacques Rancière has noted how politics is enacted by “the partition of the perceptible” (French, partage du sensible), how the regulation, division, or distribution of visibility itself distributes power: “Politics is first of all a way of framing, among sensory data, a specific sphere of experience. It is a partition of the sensible, of the visible and the sayable, which allows (or does not allow) some specific data to appear; which allows or does not allow some specific subjects to designate them and speak about them.” Advertising and commercial messaging space are made to appear as a guaranteed, normalized partition of the visible in the legal regime. Graffiti artists intuitively contest this rationing or apportioning out of visibility by intervening in a publically visible way. Graffiti art thus appears at the intersection of two regimes, two ways of distributing visibility—the governmental regime (politics, law, property) and the aesthetic regime (the artworld and the boundary maintenance between art and non-art).
By subverting the cultural wall system and championing the ephemeral act of art, graffiti art reveals internal contradictions and crises in the parallel universe of the artworld. In the institutional artworld, we only find unity in a consensual disunity about the state of contemporary art, the institutional response to popular visual culture, and the ongoing dissatisfaction. The aesthetic value of street and graffiti art is not always appreciated by the indiscriminate eye of mainstream society as it is often placed under the blanket categorization of vandalism. While some graffiti artists view their work as blatant acts of vandalism, not all of them do.
Street art reveals a new kind of attention to the phenomenology of the city, the experience of material spaces and places in daily life, and has re-introduced play and the gift in public exchange. Well-executed and well-placed graffiti art re-anchors us in the here and now, countering the forces of disappearance in the city as a frictionless commerce machine neutralizing time and presence and claiming all zones of visuality for itself. Graffiti art rematerializes the visual, an aesthetics of reappearance in an era of continual re-mediation and disappearance. It is an art form that doesn’t restrict any artistic expression, but rather creates a sense of pride and recognition not only within the subculture but also within the mainstream society. Graffiti art can be very varied and are closely related to different techniques used and the contexts within which graffiti is presented and interpreted. The line between ‘art’ and ‘vandalism’ in interpretations of illicit graffiti can be very thin and very much depends on the background and point of view of the spectator and on the context within which it is displayed. Through the eyes of every graffiti artist, their artworks enable people to think critically for their selves as they deeply engaged in constructing meaning by looking at every graffiti art, discussing or constructing it the underlying message on our world’s current issues.