Saturday, April 14, 2007

Street Art vs Graffiti

Street Art vs Graffiti logo

Evaluations, debates and comparisons between “Street Art” and “Graffiti” have been waiting for a long time to be explored. In this article I’m going to try and examine the main difference between Street Art and Graffiti, both as art forms and as communities of artists and viewers. Now, when talking about ‘Street Art’ I’m referring to a new movement of outsider art that has risen in prominence over the last decade. It’s more of a heterogeneous movement than Graffiti (which has come to be defined fairly narrowly), and includes a few mediums and styles - stencil Graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting / street poster art, and street installations (often together). The term ‘Street Art’ is typically used to differentiate this new movement from Graffiti, vandalism, and corporate art.

From the position of Graffiti artists, there has been a lot of apprehension towards Street Art. In one sense it is disappointing to have this perception of dichotomy between ’Street Art’ and ‘Graffiti.’ However the differences between these styles and the tribal politics of Graffiti have rendered some level of competition inevitable. It is very important to recognizse that these differences are major, and that behind them is a vast difference in ideas, aesthetic approaches, culture and history. As far as this blog is concerned, the mystique and techniques behind Graffiti cannot be competed with by any other contemporary art form.
Street Art vs Graffiti
Yet there actually is a high amount of cross over between the two forms. I’ve seen wheatpastes and stencils from Graffiti crews, and tags from Street Artists. In fact it was Graffiti writers in the 90s (and maybe earlier) who pioneered the use of hand written stickers as a form of tagging – a form now taken on by Street Artists. Many Street Artists are writers who have turned their efforts from Graffiti to Street Art. This cross over in medium is natural for anyone who’s going to be placing any kind of art up in as public domain as the streets: visibility, durability, striking colors, mind-grabbing images and direct text. Ultimately Graffiti is just one particular art form and culture, and it was never expected to appeal to everyone anyway: the streets and trains are big enough to hold more paint. Whether through Graffiti or Street Art, it’s awesome that so many people are able to find a way to express themselves through illegal public art.

Street Art and Graffiti in New York

A recent event in New York brought much of the thoughts and emotion resonating behind this issue to light. For the last several years, the building located at 11 Spring Street in Soho has been a site for Street Art and Graffiti. On December 15, 2006 the outside and inside of the building was opened to the public in one final and mass display / installation of Street Art before the building was cleaned up and turned into apartments. This day was billed as a mega gathering for New York and international Street Artists. Spring Street was arguably one of the World’s most famous Street Art canvases.

Graffiti Archaeology have got some flash imaging tools to show you the evolution of the building between 2002 and 2007. Of particular relevance, if you check out this link, is the constant interplay between Graffiti and Street Art. These two dominating forms of Outside Art have been interacting, complimenting and competing with each other since the early 2000s. Check it.

Now what’s really interesting is that the Brooklyn crew DYM used the event to broadcast the widely held view that Street Art aint cool by Graffiti. They arrived at 6.30 am in an unmarked car and unloaded their material onto the pavement. They took an entire wall and brushed over the wheat pastes and stencils with silver paint. By the time anyone had figured out what was going on, it was too late: An entire wall of the building was adorned with a mega silver piece reading DYM. Some Street Artists present pleaded with them not to cover the entire wall. "This window was done by an artist from Australia" one told them. "Do you need to use the whole wall? Can't you just take a section?"
street art and graffiti, east village
But DYM weren’t listening. They wanted to press the point in the boldest possible way what real Street Art looks like: Graffiti. HOST18 of DYM said this to say about their actions that day:


The reasons for our actions are vast. A lot of these people seem to believe we
just came there with the thought of fucking shit up and that we are art haters. This is completely not the case. We all go to art shows and museums often, we are artists ourselves so of course we respect and have a great appreciation for art. But we are from the streets, and the streets have unwritten rules.

I've personally been getting pissed off at Street Artists for years now, most of them seem to have no respect or regard for Graffiti. I have seen work that was up since the 80's completely covered by stencils, wheatpastes and paint. The bulk of these artists have some sort of 'holier than thou' mentality when it comes to Graffiti.

After all this came to a boil. I decided to take action, against the show and also against Street Art. These 'Street Artists' needed to be shown, no, you are not going to be allowed to disrespect Graffiti any further and when you do, you will pay a price. I'm going to war with these people, if I see any Street Art over Graffiti, I'm going over it. I been doing this for over 15 years, I'm not allowing some art school nerd disrespect me or my peers.”

Marc from the Wooster Collective, who was one of the primary organisers of the event had this to say when he twigged onto what was happening:

The bottom line for me is that I'm not going to lie and say that at first I wasn't a bit disappointed that a tonne of work on the building got taken out by DYM. But after a minute or so it struck me that this had to be the biggest fucking bomb in New York history and that you gotta respect the person that did it. How could you not be impressed? I watched those guys for an hour or so and was absolutely blown away. It was one of the most impressive things I've ever seen.

Street Art vs Graffiti, East Village

Street Sreet / Graffiti - Ideology

The critique of Street Art has also been expressed in ideological – directly political – terms recently. Since the late 90s it has become apparent that artists and counter cultural movements often serve as unwitting actors in the process of gentrification. A shitty area first attracts squatters, who are followed by artists, then students, and then finally by yuppies. This has been the process in Soho, East Village, the LES and Williamsburg. Street Art, as a more digestible form of Street Art is part of the early stage of gentrification. It is noteworthy that Graffiti has never even been accused of being part of this process. As a symptom of urban blight or decay or post industrial waste – whatever – Graffiti is a part of the run-down ugliness of the city that real estate agents and Street Art are often out to brighten up. Not so with Street Art.

The collusion between Street Art, gentrification and the role that art can play as an arm of the System has been pushed recently in New York by ‘the Slasher.’ Over the last few months, someone has been splashing paint over major Street Art works all over the city. The "Splasher", as he's come to be known, has a taste for targeting major works by the likes of Swoon, Obey, Momo, and others. His trail of paint-dripped terror extends from Williamsburg, Soho, and back again, and he's already fucked up dozens of works. Often, in the midst of his attacks, the Splasher leaves wheat-pasted manifestos that attack the street-artists as tools of capitalism, calling their work a "fetishized action of banality" and "a representation of the most vulgar kind: an alienated commodity."

street art slasher

It’s clear that the Splasher is onto something here. Street Art has gotten way out of control. It rivals sneaker culture in over saturation. Part of me loves Street Art, but it's time the spoiled hipsters got a taste of reality. Old school Graffiti writers have to worry about their murals and production getting dissed and crossed out by toys, building workers and the City constantly - why should so-called 'Street Artists' get any preferential treatment? That kind of attitude draws a distinction between high and low Street Art, which is exactly the kind of bullshit that most artists would claim to be subverting. Welcome to the streets.

The controversy here with the Slasher is not the worthless debate about whether anyone’s creating art, but about who he is "creating" over (and, in effect "destroying"). Street Art is creating commodity over property that is waiting to sky rocket in value. The Street Artists who have beef with the Slasher act like its their right to display their art on the street anyways. It is not. What is vital about Graffiti is that it’s illegal. It takes a special kind of person to actually call themselves a "writer". To be a writer takes serious effort. In a most cases you're risking life and limb on a regular basis. Street Art (in most cases) is too relaxed a form of Outsider Art. Graffiti is a medium for boarder line criminals and maniacs who insist on testing every limit. Street Art is for frustrated graphic designers with too much time on their hands and not enough creative control in their day jobs (in advertising: how IRONIC!!).

The bottom line is that the dudes who have a beef with the Splasher are hypocrites. Lest we forget - when it comes down to it, Graffiti is all about getting up, going over, fighting, and fame and more than anything, the beef. And what’s missing from Street Art is beef. The Splasher is shaping up to be a modern day CAP. Instead of doing throw ups on the 2s and the 5s he’s splashing the walls of the LES and Williamsburg. Splasher is just bringing some much needed drama to the Street Art scene. It would not surprise me one bit if Splasher was actually a Street Artist herself trying to bring some attention to the art form and simultaneously immortalize this time period.

While I love what the Splasher is saying, I want him to turn his attention away from this form of Outlaw Art and focus on the galleries of Chelsea where paintings sell for thousands and millions. These galleries squander the revolutionary potential of art far more boringly than Street Art does. Let’s see the Splasher have the balls to imitate Tony Shafrazi who spray painted over a Picasso painting (!)(Guernica) when it was housed at MOMA in the 70s.

Stylistic Differences

Of course this critique goes between both camps. Street Artists often diss Graffiti writers for obsessing on fame and their mission of getting their name out, often at the expense of actual quality. Certainly Graffiti can become more of a quest for notoriety than art. Street Artists shat the rules of Graffiti, altering their entire style and approach without caring whether or not it was approved of by the sometimes sentimental institutions and ways of Graffiti. In terms of an audience, it’s argued that the general public appreciate Street Art far more than Graffiti. Unlike the early days of New York Graffiti, writers today do not seem as intent on communicating directly with the general public. Knowing full well that the masses don’t know the first thing about the Graffiti underground, writers are often exclusively focussed on achieving fame for them and their crew.


Most Graffiti artists are self-taught and never had any formal art training. Graffiti writers are often people who have had an intense urge to create and have found ways to bond together to create the work they make. Graffiti is basically urban outsider art. Most Street Artists however come straight out of the art school world. And while many are talented, too many simply move to a city, come up with some witty poster/sticker, stencil it and then based on their art school connections get press and publicity for it.

Graffiti artists have to come through, bomb quick and clean, and get out of there without being caught. While Street Art also entails a risk, really all a wheatpaster has to do is take all damn day making their poster at home and then arrive at the site and paste it up. Actual spray-can Graffiti is much more dangerous, and in the Graffiti world this rush, and the ability to get away with crazy shit is a large part of the excitement and source of recognition. There is a strong argument that Graffiti is more about the act itself, than the actual product. Style and quantity are always a plus, but in the end they are just aesthetics for a system of markings. The act is the concept. The concept is the art. It is the act that makes Graffiti so romantic. It is the romance that makes it art.

This aspect seems largely missing – though not completely absent – from Street Art.


What angers many in the Graffiti world is the fact that Street Artists often place their art over Graffiti. In context, Graffiti from its earliest inceptions in the 1970s, developed a firm etiquette about going over another’s writing. I won’t go into systems of rules here, but the point is that these artschool hipsters put their wheatpaste stencils over Graffiti with absolutely no regard. They have little respect for what it is that they are dabbling in and therefore get little respect from the Graffiti scene in return.
CAP throw up
ABOVE: CAP's throw up over a peice. The film Style Wars included CAP's war on any other writer or crew as part of its narrative.
BELOW: A throw up by SEEN over COMET. This was from a number 6 Bronx train in 1986.

Viewed from the perspective of the politics of the Graffiti world, when a Street Artist goes over the work of another artist it’s a declaration of war. Either you already have beef with the guy or you’re looking for beef with the guy. Deliberately or not, these little hipsters are looking for trouble with an entire sub-culture overflowing with hardened thugs that have grown up on beef. And it’s going to catch up to these kids when they get caught in the streets. I think it’s fair enough to say that Graffiti and Street Art will coexist perfectly as soon as Street Artists learn to respect Graffiti writers and vice versa.


Graffiti is a lifestyle. “Street Art” is a trend. Graffiti is learned over a period of time, with the journey from a toy to a respected writer being a tough one. There isn’t really any learning process to Street Art which is why these yuppies are so clueless. Whilst Street Artists are preparing their stencils and paints at home or at Art School – or even getting them professionally made up - Graffiti writers are racking crates of paint. Another thing: writers go All City. That means getting their tag / throw up / piece up across the length and breadth of the city. Not just all Soho or all Williamsburg. Graffiti writers earn the respect they’re accorded.

People outside of Graffiti have no understanding about the blood, sweat and tears that goes into Graffiti. Do you know how many writers have died for their art? There are countless names of people who have been shot for trespassing, fallen off high spots, or been killed by trains. It seems that in New York alone, every year another writer bites the dust. And this happens to kids in cities across the world. Think also about how many writers have served time in jail, or have been crippled, lost their jobs or been kicked out of home. Graffiti writers are completely misunderstood and hated by wider society. And for what gain? Nothing. No gain whatsoever. But for expression; for a drive to themselves become a part of the landscape; for recognition from their peers. Street Artists are just flattering themselves when they compare what they do with Graffiti. Think about that next time you’re putting your wheatpaste over a tag.

Street Art in its modern form was predated by Graffiti, which set the precedent for Street Art. And if you want to talk about its forbears, then you could easily argue that Graffiti has been around for thousands of years. But in modern and post-modern times, graffiti rules the streets. Personally I’ll take a throw-up over a wheatpasted poster any day.

Regardless of what you do and how you bomb this city: KEEP DOING IT. This City belongs to all of us, and we’ve got to enjoy and paint it. Stop reading this and start painting!

wooster, street art

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Blogger pex said...

thoroughly brilliant synopis of the 'beef' that's going on in the streets after dark. while i dont agree with all of it, i love your 'fuck everything up' you..but to bring about what...produce what ? apart from a dramatic forgotten minute in history. maybe that's enough.. it is an ideological battle. so what, i like the aesthetic of street art. sure its done by frustrated graphic designers. banksy rules. check him out. your passion for graff and its right to the wall because it was the first, and your desire for the revolution is cute and i want to bomb your words..its seems that that is also what it is about.. the streets are not owned..not for visual permanant installations that street art offers, but the streets are for overturning, competing..survival..risk... nice writing. and i agree. the splasher is definitely a street artist. seems to fit. miss you.

7:28 PM  
Blogger Ez said...

I guess I view the streets as one of the few places where the public can openly battle out their ideas. And graffiti is one form of those discussions taking place in society. In my interpretation graffiti is a form of tribal marking, a quest for adventure, and a way of artifying the physical environment in a way that is very common in pre-modern societies but that was lost with industrialisation. And I see that last point as actually being quite 'anti-art', in the sense that after art was lost from everyday life, it then became the exclusive domain of art galleries. Graff returns it to the street; to decorative everyday life. Thank God. Now Street Art also takes their art to the streets but it lacks a strong ideological backbone, and it is too arty. It also disrespects Graff which is the art movement that paved the way for Street Art (true, this is the way of all revolutions, but Street Art just isn't as cool and therefore is unworthy of usurping Graff). In truth I do like Street Art and don't see an inherent contradiction against Graff, but I do believe that it is part of the gentrification process and that is what worries me the most.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

was this a paper you turned in for a high school elective class? "conclusion" holy shit....AND to set it straight for you what really set DYM off was that a illegal burner (look it up) they did on houston was covered by an artist who came into town to 11 spring JACE who did it legally. That same day they went over him with tags. AND Marc from wooster is the biggest load of shit ever. he was runnin around that night telling everyone that it was vandal squad!! lmao! wooster used to be down but now its a joke and when, in an equally famous moment goreB did a mock paitning of a short man (marc) standing on a soapbox with a bullhorn and his wife sara holding a mirror he was fumed..,but in true fashion spun it that he loved it and wanted gore to do a real portrait...the castrated aggressor...

3:03 PM  
Blogger Ez said...

Thanks for setting me straight. I don't really care for Marc of Wooster. In general I think it's useless in these mass art movements for people to struggle and become leaders. Often the leaders are just jumping onto a bandwagon started by others. The reason that I did include his quote however, was to use it as a way of presenting an opinion from a street art person who although possibly felt threatened by DYM's action, was still totally impressed. I definitly didn't include Marc's views out of repsect for his views on graff / art / whatever.

1:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DYM! word, i run the streets, the streets don;t run me...and as for three letter throwies bein out in 86...peep acc crew...DEM and DRO they have been KILLIN shit here!!!
a. all day.

8:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

update...omni killed the whole spot...again legally and then it got tagged the fuck up AGAIN, they even left a tag that said "sorry bro" ... and check the new new york magazine (new yorker?) for an expose on the splisher....

12:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just stumbled across this article, and I have to say, you make some great points. Really well argued. I still love me my street art though!


9:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

While you have all this Street Art vs Graffiti beef going on. You failed to highlight exactly what graffiti is and what street art is. From what I can see graffiti is just art from the streets while street art is about trying to send a message across but the beef lies in the fact that most of the street artists are from art school ect. In which the beef is a class issue not an art issue... and to deface ones art over the subject of class is petty and sad...

5:04 AM  
Blogger Ez said...

You're right and that's exactly what I pointed out. Graffiti is from the street; street art is from the art school.

5:30 PM  
Blogger eva said...

Hi! I'm writing an article for the Newschool Free Press and I was wondering if I could either get your permission to quote you (as well as your name, age, etc), or ask you a few quick questions via email about your opinion on the differences between street art and graff. I completely agree with everything you're saying in this piece, by the way, but of course I cant really say that in the article. I don't have a better way to get in touch with you...but hopefully you'll get this in time and let me know.


5:30 PM  
Blogger Ez said...

no prob. leave your email here and I'll write straight back to you. (after I write to you I'll delete your email comment).

6:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree with lots of what you said, but I disagree with lots of it, too.

I'm a street artist, myself, but the picture you painted of street art in your article is very narrow minded.

I started as a graff writer. I wrote for years until I took a trip to Europe one summer and saw all of the great street art there. I fell in love with the style and I slowly moved into the street art world.

I never wheatpaste. That is, I won't wheatpaste for the sake of wheatpasting. If I can spray something on a wall, I will.

Being from the graffiti world originally, I know how to respect everyone and I know pretty much all of the unwritten rules. I don't go over anyone's work.

I've never been to art school.

What I'm trying to get at here is that you painted a pretty unfair picture of street artists. I didn't switch to street art because it was easier or because I'm a hipster, I simply fell in love with it. Not all of them are lame hipsters with no talent and no regard for how things work on the streets.

12:07 AM  
Blogger Ez said...

You're right that the article is very one sided. I'm trying to express Graff's counter argument to this new upstart movement.

What's interesting is that street-art is the first mass form of public art that's challenged graffiti's dominance of the street. I guess I wrote it as grafitti's counter attack.

You did bring up some totally valid points that graff folks should look closer at - that there's quite a lot of cross over in terms of artists and style.

Still the issues of street art and gentrification remain unanswered.

4:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think there is some similar romance between street art and graffiti. Both take time, even if street art can be made at home. To put time and effort into a piece that probably won't be there tomorrow: there is poetry. It hardly matters that the battle is between street art and graffiti, as long as there is a struggle there.

But to say graffiti take more skill is untrue. It's is just a different kind of skill. It take a long time to learn to do either one well.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Ez said...

Yup, it's good to have struggle as that's a barometer of passion.

8:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why do you call The Splasher "herself" at some point, and after that it's back to "him"

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't like how Some street artist like Mr.Brainwash from "Exit through the gift shop" make money off their art. Making money off art is exactly what most graffiti writers don't intend on doing, a lot of writers have been doing this shit for years and still don't get paid for it.
Graffiti is more for self and other graff writers. We disregard whether normal art hipsters dont like our shit, if they do then aye. Street art is more for art hipsters that like anything art related.
Graffiti is a whole different game.

- DNAK/Guam -

11:27 PM  
Blogger Ez said...

The Splasher could be a he or a she. I decided to cover all possibilities.

3:07 AM  
Blogger Ez said...

Too many street artists view their art as a stepping stone in their career. Maybe not the worst thing in the world, but miles away from purity of Graff culture.

3:08 AM  
Blogger allen c said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4:57 AM  
Blogger chaka said...

the thing is with graf and street art is that they are both forms of public art. as public art they both have an innate aesthetic property in that they spread visual communication and ideas. street art is just more consciously aware of this fact, or at least the fact that people other that a particular crew of individuals are going to be looking at it and quite possibility contemplating its meaning and general purpose.

discussing the issue of gentrification street art has been around much longer than graf, sorry. before you get pissed, consider nazi propaganda and communist posters. shit when the united states was launching campaigns in south korea they would drop hollowed bomb shells over cities and villages with illustrated posters conveying slanderous messages about the north korean army. ofcourse this form of art is just pure shit because of whos producing it(goebbles, stalin and uncle sam) but never the less it is a form of art or "street art" that cannot be over looked. lets also not forget the rebellious 1980's south american wanna be gangsters, hipsters, punks, or any other sub category streaming out of U.S pop culture, who, with the upmost revolutionary attitude, writes "viva che" in shaky black lines (which demonstrate an overall lack of can control) across a crumbling marble wall directly across from the argentinan equivalent of the white house, la casa rosada.his words serve as a public reminder that not every one is willing to keep their mouths shut about corruption and fucked politics (look up "los desappercidos" if your interested in that particular history). the point im trying to make is public art is about the public. the artist or the artists crew is somewhat irrelevant. atlest when no money is involved, this would lead in to a conversation about the work of sheperd fairey or he who should not be named. but for the sake of this argument fuck those guys and their high brow art.

so to wrap this all up, graf art and street art have a tremendous power of influence. anyone who does art is somewhat intelligent and anyone who further more thinks about that said art is that much more intelligent. so why not use that intelligence to convey some sort of message or meaning in your art especially if its going to be public. if not just go ahead and keep filling up your black books. because in all honesty no one owns any fucking streets, and who ever claims he does is just as bad as those oppressors and tyrants he hates. he just doesnt realize it yet.

5:03 AM  
Blogger Ez said...

thanks for sharing your wisdom.

In response, I would say that nazi propaganda or communist posters aren't strictly street art. They are propaganda art and/ or poster art. Not anything posted to a wall or publically visible is necessarily street art.

But to your broader point, graff does communicate. It does speak out and express something. Just because the general public can't decipher the words, doesn't mean they're not expressing themselves in some manner. Most people haven't got a clue what most street art means. Besides, people within the graff culture get it. Who says graff needs to speak with a wider public?

8:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Graffiti is a lifestyle. “Street Art” is a trend."
How is Graffiti a life style? By spray painting crude, poorly drawn, and written gang names and signs?
Little punk ass kids and no lives spraying neighborhoods to "claim" them as their own and cause nothing but violence in the neighborhood.
That isn't a lifestyle or art. It's a nuisance.

Also, your comment about "Graffiti is from the street; street art is from the art school."
What evidence do you have behind this? None.
Besides your bias opinions for graffiti cause you think it makes you hood.
Also, it sounds like you're bitter towards Street Artist. Maybe you envy them? Who knows.

One more thing
New York is full of nothing but Street Art. Try living in a place where you have constant graffiti sprayed all over your home walls and neighborhood. With people always respraying and causing havoc.
Not a tasteful piece of art that someone put work into that you can look at and not worry about fights breaking out over it.
Then write something that isn't bias because you want to be a BALLLLEEERRR graffiti gangbanger.

2:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's pretentious to say graffiti is a lifestyle and street art is simply a trend just because the former has been around longer. As any graffiti artist will tell you the streets belong to everyone and that includes "art students" as well as "border line criminals". Although I respect that graffiti does involve more danger and I don't think any urban artist should go over another person's work (unless it is racist, extremely vulgar etc.) I think street artisits and graffiti artists should see each other as fellow artists working in the same field rather than enemies.

11:36 AM  
Blogger la_loka_61969 said...

i think it is true about the graffiti being about beef, both street art and graffiti are a source of talent and they both are art with or without beef, i live in san diego and street art and graffiti are everywhere. and we take both in. especially on the streets. but they have both created a independent style, and will for ever last. both street art and graffiti

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah Writers are way more talented then the wheatposters, I recently was drunk and covered a tag with one. Ha now they rip my shit down quick. Whish i could get a hold of em to say it was accident, but thed prob shoot me.

2:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think all graff heads should bomb the shit out of mr brainwashes buildin, it the ones with the purple eyes and shit, just sayin.

2:49 AM  
Anonymous Hannah. said...

This piece started out as informative and I was really enjoying it and then all of a sudden it turned violent and you could easily see that this piece is written by a biest writer in favour of graffiti. Therefore, not for his opinions but for the fact that it seemed to be unbiest and informative but is not, this piece is complete and utter shit.

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I dig the article, but I feel like it's missing some discussion on the aesthetic differences between graffiti and street art.

For all it's posturing, Street Art isn't that visually revolutionary in my opinion. Shephard Faireys greytone Andre the Giant is just a relic of Soviet Propaganda or a left over poster from a dramatic realization of 1984; the sad thing is, this time people are choosing to reflect on "Big Brother's" dreary countenance. Likewise, Banksy is motivated politically/intellectually to use the streets, but he doesn't really aim to make them alive. He throws up dark photographic one liners that say "Message!" Not to mention, street art's horde of characters that look like Dreamwork's leftovers or bad Sonic villains with lots of "tude"

To me, graffiti seems much more alive visually. The way text interlocks and the quality and brightness of the colors used is almost musical. If graffiti is political; it isn't in a self conscious Bansky way, but rather it's political the way jazz, rock n roll, skateboarding, and early hip hop were... "rather than simply critique the past let's create lifestyles for the future". I'm not just trying to be wishy washy with: "Graffiti is good because its a lifestyle!" Rather I believe Graffiti was able to innovate aesthetically because graffiti was and is an organic, competitive, visual community that knew it's own worth without the validation of outside institutions.

Even still, I'd take a Basquiat or Keith Haring over moody/pretentious Banksy any day of the week. At least those guys had Rhythm!

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

how would you define de la vega? Street or Graffiti

5:19 PM  
Blogger Ez said...

Without getting further into an exact definition of "graffiti" and "street art" I would say that while de la vega is from the streets, he makes street art. I love his stuff, but it's not graff.

8:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuck all the negative shit. I know this was written a long time ago and you probably wont receive this comment but I completely agree and support everything you have stated after traveling myself, and being around people who have actually committed graffiti around the world, risked their lives and lost friends.
"Graffiti is a medium for boarder line criminals and maniacs who insist on testing every limit. Street Art is for frustrated graphic designers with too much time on their hands and not enough creative control in their day jobs" - Amen.

5:32 PM  
Blogger Ez said...

It was written a long time ago but we're still reading and loving comments!

7:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see street art as being the logical evolution from graffiti. It's more interesting. It's more visually stimulating. It moves things out of the realm of a bunch of sad people writing their names on things. To be angry at the rising street art movement is to be the old codger who just can't deal with change. Fight it if you want, call it work by at school hipsters if you want, even though this is a really ignorant generalization that probably only holds true about 30 percent of the time. But in the end splashes and haters aren't going to change what is clearly something legit and exciting. If beef for beef sake is what you are looking for, ok.

8:08 AM  
Blogger Blingstar said...

I believe Street Art is a real art form. But what isn't, is just taking 30 seconds to spray paint some swear word on an unwanted area. That's not real art. And those people just ruin it for us, the real artists.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Gyal said...


12:18 PM  
Anonymous Jill C. Weisberg said...

Excellent post!!! Here's my take on it:

11:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an artist, that sometimes goes to the street to do some interventions...
I agree with many things but: for any graffiti artist or street artist or whatever you want to call them, if they want to be untouchable they should PAINT A FUCKING CANVAS!!! there is nothing wrong of going over someone else work.
This ironic street scene that seems to have no rules full of stupid rules.

If you think that a white wall or and old victorian brick wall would be better with your tag or your wonderful art, other may prefer the wall as it is. In my case, I like to change or add things to others work. so who is right or wrong here? Is pure ego, for both, writers, and street artist. I had already works on the street covered completed by writers and you know what? I don't care, I think is part of the game.

At the end everyone whants fame, and recognition.

And I am not going to respect people that risk their lives for writing a tag at the top of a building.
How street art helps gentrification is a good point and something to think about.

1:53 PM  
Blogger Vani said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:40 AM  
Blogger Vani said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:43 AM  
Anonymous Alex said...

This is a very interesting article and you can think about not only art, the idea of creating, but the way art is presented, and the way people are "meant" to view art, and who it is for.

8:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are we all different ? Guess not from the graffiti point of view. Are there wars becaorse "the true words" in 1000 year old books, are people killed becaurse they do not obay "the law". Streetart deal with beauty, express much values in old day's art, place it in the middle og the modern commersial hell judt to make that point, that beauty still exist. Graffiti are Hate, it occupy the minds with intolerance, it fight what is "different" and still expect respect.

6:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, new keybord cheat when used to the letters are in the right place.
Allowing Hate to rule your life, crowding with others praising Hate, Putting a patent on imagery creativity, acting as the self made graffiti policeman, that rule, make the rules and do the punishment with the sideeffect being the one who make the law, the judge of what is different than what they do themself, and being the one who punish. That is Good? I don't think so, I think it is sick becaurse where do it leave "the lawmaker, the judge and the policeman after say 5 years persaving oneself that Hate must rule. What is it "people" must not see ? Beauty and humor ? What is it they will replace that with, -- Hate ?

6:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's with all the hate towards Street Art? First off, Street Art is beautiful, its usually not mindless (as graffiti sometimes is) and its beautiful. A lot of the time, it can get an idea or a concept across. And what's wrong with street artists being from an art school? Just because you taught yourself art doesn't make you suprerior and just because you went to art school doesn't make you superior. Sometimes I feel that this is like comparing Digital and Traditional Art. Neither way is cheating, they both require a different skill set.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i say to all those just use your eyes look at someone putting up a wheat paste poster verse a "writer" dropping a wild style. fact number two graffiti way older in fact by thousands of years with Mayans etc. and other cultures graffiti is about a story of personality and street is a message fit for others.

9:52 AM  
Anonymous erik said...

parabéns muito bom seu site ..

6:43 PM  

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