True graffiti is modern art, not hoodie vandalism

I’d like to respond to Roy Johnson’s letter ‘Is graffiti “vandalism”?’ (DW 22 March).

Mr Johnson sounds typical of those who think graffiti is the stuff done by hoodies at bus stops, and not an accepted part of popular modern design, art and street culture.

Perhaps I am wrong, though, and Mr Johnson realises the difference between ‘tagging’ and true graffiti.

True, they are both illegal, but instead of pushing for a boycott on brands which are simply following current trends (like many designers and artists before them), I hope the ‘anti-graffiti association’ is pushing for more Government-sponsored ‘graffiti walls’ to be erected where this art form can be practised legally.

It’s naive to label art emerging from street culture as ‘vandalism’. In the same letter, there was a picture of a Gravis Comet sneaker, designed by Matt Sewell. He was commissioned to illustrate a piece of art on a (legally obtained) canvas, which was used on a limited run of trainers. I think it’s hardly vandalism, more a unique piece of modern applied art.

Matt Loomis, London W5

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  • Roy Johnson November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    My article regarding the use of the “graffiti” style in advertising provoked good response some of which contained valid comment.
    However, the main point is that any glorification of this form of expression merely helps to suggest it is acceptable.
    The Anti Graffiti Association is not against true art and design but cannot see why it is referred to as a “graffiti” style when the commonly accepted definition of the word graffiti is “The illegal display of a signature or mark, known as ‘tagging’ or pictures, painted on structures where no permission has been given by the owner.”
    We must ask, knowing the connotation of the word graffiti, why do marketing and design people continue to use the word if not for the fact that it implies a bit of daring on their part. If these designers really think it is art then use the word ‘art’. Glorification of an illegal act cannot be condoned. We do not wish to stop the progression of art, but to stop the implication by assocation that graffiti is acceptable.
    Regarding the supply of legal graffiti walls, the majority of the feedback from authorities worldwide suggests they do not work in most cases. The very fact that they are legal takes away the criminal aspect that the graffiti vandal requires. A legal wall would be better referred to as a ‘legal art wall’ for a true artist to use.
    Graffiti will continue to be the choice of the vandal and used to deface other peoples property. If the property of these designers were to be defaced with graffiti, would they accept it – I think not. More likely the owner would be contacting the Anti Graffiti Associaton asking for advice on how to remove the marks from their walls without causing serious damage to the substrate.
    That rasies an interesting thought. To promote the Adidas graffiti trainer why doesn’t some enterprising person use their office walls as a graffiti background and then knock on their office door and ask them what they think?

  • Milo of BSE November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    As a graffiti artist myself i can give a first hand account of what goes on. Graffiti is a mix of art and destruction. We, us being the young graffiti community, are constatly trying to push for legal walls and more recognition for our work. Getting up isn’t enough anymore we want to be known and for people to know we are not all teenage thugs. For example take a close friend and graffiti crew member of mine ION is studying enviromental science and i, MILO, am studying forensic science! Hardly a thug! Our art is complex and is oftern mistaken for destruction. Although some people use graffiti as a media for destruction. The answer is not to put pressure on graffiti artists an further force it underground but to increase the amount of legal walls and to create greater understanding of the art form. Not all graffiti artists are thugs so don’t be small minded and think we are.

    “MILO” of BSE

    Part of the “BSE CREW”


  • Jay November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    A true graff writer wouldn’t really care what the design press say about the art to be honest. Matt Sewells a good example of how using skills built from that culture has given him a talent to earn a living from, and you cant really hold that against anyone.

  • amanda keogh November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    Hi there, I am looking for a Graffiti Artist for my sons bedroom if anyone can help. I would be grateful if anyone could point me in the right direction. Much appreciated. Mandy

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