Some stuff I learned about Graffiti and Street Art

So yesterday we went on a “Tagging Along” walking tour sponsored by the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario).  It was very cool and I learned some new things about Graffiti culture…

  • graffiti culture is broad and diverse.  the writer’s range from graphic designers taking their skills to the streets to gangs/crews tagging walls to mark their territories.
  • the art ranges from commissioned pieces by building owners, illegal pieces done in the night, and even to indoor art exhibit style works.
  • they generally will not tag anything or cover over a piece that is by a notable and respected street artist, unless they can add to it and make it better.  of course there are exceptions to this, like punks who just want to wreck something just because they can.
  • a lot of “old school” graffiti writer’s look down upon artist’s who use stencils for their graffiti, like the one pictured below.  I guess they think freehand graffiti earns more respect.
  • there is a lot of illegal graffiti, obviously.  However, in large cities like Toronto, there is also a lot of illegal advertising by big companies.  They place their billboards or posters in illegal places and actually budget for the cost of the fines.  By the time they get the fine or go to court to fight it, the advertising they got for it has already paid off.  That surprised me, but totally makes sense.
  • in Toronto, a lot of neighbourhoods welcome graffiti.  Artists often will approach property owners who may have ugly tags all over their buildings and offer to paint a mural or large piece to cover over the tags.  This actually deters the ugly tagging from showing up.

Those are just some points from discussion that I remember.  I’m sure I am missing a lot of other interesting stuff.

Anyway, I love it.  It sure brightens up the city and makes our grey concrete streets look a lot more interesting.


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