Monday, 9 November 2009

3A - Graffiti: Art or Crime?

1. Grévy, F., (2008), Graffiti Paris, New York, Abrams

An adventure takes place on the streets of the French capital and it’s getting photographed too. The author and her father enjoyed searching and documenting the art of urban culture of graffiti. In this book the reader can find many examples of usual kinds of graffiti incorporated with posters, text joined up with images, animals and people fighting for their space on the walls of some of the city’s most deprived and therefore dangerous areas. Nonetheless, Parisian style of graffiti is almost poetic and it usually seems to be carrying some sort of a general message to the public. Still, it is considered of be one of the crimes of art.

2. Naar, J., (2007), The Birth of Graffiti, London, Prestel

A graffiti bible. Created by a photographer inspired by the exiting origins of graffiti in New York. The full face to graffiti as a crime is uncovered and it is not what you were expecting. Gang culture, youth crime, fighting racism, popularising the African American / White American division, stopping the war, etc. “The times were hard and writing on the walls and subway cars was a reaction of the conditions in which the writers and their civilian families lived” - this quote from the introduction to the book captures exactly why the graffiti started. It was just another way to protest against what people found unacceptable.

3. Reisser, M., DAIM, (2004), Mainaschaff, Publikat Verlags

This book demonstrates the new face of graffiti art by taking the reader, step by step, though the career of a German graffiti artist, Mirko Reisser. He chooses to push the boundaries and take graffiti into the 3D format. His clients include: Citroen, Philips Electronic, Siemens, Schwarzkopf, MTV, Levi’s, Adidas, Mars, Marlboro Cigarettes, West Cigarettes, Poster Network, SNCF. As a whole, this is an example of highest quality graffiti art which stays in touch with the basics but also keeps on developing and challenging the audience as well as the artist/maker.


A fabulous website illustrating the work of one of my favourite artists. A selection of Banksy’s indoor, as well as outdoor images with an option of downloading for non commercial usage. This represents the high end of the graffiti market and more broadly the high end of the art and design world as a whole. Banksy makes a statement with each one of his pieces, he touches very many controversial issues and crosses the boundaries of our culture’s taboos. Exactly what a true artist/designer should be involved in.


An example for an official government website. The City of Denver authorities took enough care to prepare a full plan of their fight against graffiti. They organised this part of the website into well structured data base of information on the subject. From the legal point of view, things seem to be rather straight forward - graffiti is considered to be an act of vandalism, therefore a crime that needs to be punished.


A Scotland orientated graffiti website. Full with photographs of Glasgow and Edinburgh murals. There is a good selection of links on it, some of those interesting, however other completely useless. Additionally, my attention was caught by a good reading list, consisting of graffiti orientated texts and books. One of the strongest aspects of this website is the fact that Denver citizens are given a chance to volunteer by joining a graffiti cleaning group and dedicating an evening to making sure their environment is up to a civilised (clean) standard.


A website that takes a more careful look at urban graffiti and makes it legal to fulfil this passion. An opportunity of workshops with professional graffiti artist is created by this group, as well as valuable information on how to get involved and how to contact the group. Many examples of their commissioned work are illustrated with good quality photographs along side a gallery of canvas graffiti.


A website dedicated to graffiti prevention. Gives many tips to the victims of the most popular type of property vandalism. Also this website gives a really good opportunity for anyone affected by graffiti to unite and form discussion groups or even start a neighbourhood watch organisation. Many additional links are to be found there, as well as advise on discouraging potential graffiti criminals, CCTV, cleaning products, specialist paints and professional removal methods.

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