In Defence of Graffiti

Of all art forms, none is more polarizing than graffiti. It seems as though everyone has an opinion regarding its place in society. Here’s mine.


Three weeks ago, the art critic Jonathan Jones wrote an article in the UK Guardian titled: Graffiti is ugly, stupid and threatening – there’s more creativity in crochet.

To be fair, this guy is pretty controversial (he once reviewed the MH17 crash images), and he’s often torn to shreds in the comments section. This time however, many of his readers agreed. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

  • “The graffiti that is usually done in the ugly parts of towns usually succeeds in making the ugliness uglier.”
  • “If you want other art forms, you go to a museum. With graffiti you don’t have that choice. It’s just there.”
  • “Go damage your own goddam wall, not one belonging to someone else. Grow up.”

Wow! Graffiti sure does provoke some strong opinions. Here’s what I think:

  • Yes, it can be ugly, stupid and threatening, but the same could be said for all types of art – especially that which the critics love.
  • There is a time and a place for nearly everything. If you’re defacing a beautiful old building, you’re an idiot. If you’re painting an abandoned one, or better yet, seeking permission, you’re a-ok.
  • Most tagging sucks and the people that do it are losers (and/or gang-bangers), but murals are often awesome, and beautiful.
  • Street art is for the people, and when done properly, is far more accessible than most art ‘isms’ (I’m looking at you conceptualism).

What do you think?