Tagging is not vandalism, it’s just free expression

In reaction to Nick Lerner’s response (Letters, DW 5 December) to your diary piece Anonymous East End taggers captured on camera, I too was appalled that Volkswagen UK decided to use graffiti to promote its cars.

First of all, because the visual execution wasn’t relevant to the brand, but more importantly it wasn’t a voice from an individual. Volkswagen employed a marketing company to go around London putting up these stencil tags, while showing no respect to other street artists by going over their work with their plagiarised style.

I don’t wish to condone or condemn tagging, but ignoring the creativity and aesthetic values of a tag ignores the creative process that put it there in the first place.

Tagging is like a news headline or a billboard that shows up overnight. Whether it is right or wrong, it is free and surprising. I’d rather walk into a tagged Hoxton Square with something to say for itself than one that is visually void. It shows a visual energy and evidence that activity has taken place.

If Lerner knew something about contemporary art he would see that artists such as Space Invader, Eine, Instant, Shephard Fairey, Banksy or Ojas, among others, had been in town. All of their visual tags are just around the corner and on his way to work.

Artists are always looking for that perfect space in order to reach a wider audience and the ‘streets’ are the perfect canvas for free expression. The ‘rubbish’ tag that is mentioned has fulfilled its aim in provoking a reaction, whether it be in bemusement or disgust, these tags encourage thought about how people relate to their surroundings.

I won’t begin to define the perimeters of public or private property and ownership, but to say it is ‘fair enough’ to exhibit graffiti in the controlled environment of an art gallery is to ignore all aspects of the freedom of an individual’s expression. It is on the street where this creativity exists in its purest form, where it is not controlled, and the tag expresses the creative energy (be it subjective) and urge of the creator’s hand.

A tag isn’t just writing on the wall, it is a designed visual identity, where time and effort is spent practising the look and style before placing it into a public context.

In its simplest form it is all about mark making. Taggers could well be seen as today’s urban calligraphers.

Eve B



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