Graffiti is the plural of graffito, which is a term derived from Greek graphein that means “to write”. Graffiti means a scribbling or drawing on a wall or any flat surface, and can be a simple mark or an intricate and colorful work of art. The intention in creating these marks varies: an inner desire for a public acceptance and appreciation, or the need to utilize a public space or a person’s private space for an individual or group’s recognition or communication, and other purposes.
Graffiti can also be an art, a form of self-expression that even if illegal is not necessarily vandalism. These markings or form of art is created with the use of paint, ink, scratches and other possible ways in order to put across a message or express one’s self. The most popular tool for fast and easy execution is the spray paint cans. However, it must be understood that graffiti as an art should not be identified with other markings or writing on the walls that are offensive or violent, such as graffiti that uses foul language and rough drawings of obscene subjects. Graffiti is not always vandalism, as many people mistook it for, and it is not done to damage properties and off-limit areas such as churches or any place of worship, residential properties, and cemeteries.
To a few, the definition of graffiti is simply vandalism. Even if the graffiti was made with utmost artistry by an incredibly talented graffiti artist, if it is done on public walls or any public flat surface, it is still considered vandalism and has become an outdoor problem for our community. Graffiti has always been surrounded by an immense deal of controversy concerning its legality and validity. While many appreciate the potential of graffiti as a progressive and meaningful form or art, others consider it as unpleasant, useless damage both to private and public property.
Graffiti is accepted by some people in the realm of art as a form of modern art. But, this acceptance is slowly weakening as the art form is being threatened by diminishing support of the authorities in many areas. Graffiti’s dilemma is its association with illegal activity of spraying in off-limit areas. However, despite these associations, modern graffiti is still being recognized worldwide as a distinct modern-day form of art. The graffiti artists are becoming more identifiable with their works as if every work is a signature and highly recognizable. This form of art is more popular in areas largely populated by young under privileged people that make modern graffiti often associated with hip-hop and rap music. Graffiti has never become more popular and widespread as it is today. Media such as the internet, computers, cell phones and camcorders, are just a few items that have helped spread graffiti all over the world.
Despite the acceptance of modern graffiti as a new form of contemporary art, modern graffiti is still in danger of being brought to an end. Modern graffiti’s arbitrary utilization of public and other people’s property as their canvas caused the creation of laws and penalties in order to stop the spread of graffiti. Such legislation, which is aimed to stop graffiti, is a frustration not only to the modern graffiti artists; but also for many people who have understood and appreciated modern graffiti. It is a pity since numerous members of the local artistic community are now considering and recognizing the artistic value of modern graffiti, using graffiti as an art or ornamental expression. In doing so, it is possible that people will like what they create and buy. This opened opportunities for some graffiti artists to make a living out of their artistic expressions.
Authority’s attitude towards modern graffiti being associated with drug use and crime is the opposite of what the majority of graffiti artists really are. Graffiti is mostly the creative outlet of most young people to prevent them from being involved with drugs and minor crimes. Instead of being criticized and eradicated, modern graffiti should be more recognized as a form of art in its own merit and the public should find ways to support this type of imaginative expression without infringing on the rights of private property owners or to the disdain of the community.