Illegal Art Practices: Transformation of Thoughts

These past few weeks, I have been able to watch several graffiti films on youtube.  These films would include: Exit through the Gift shop, Graffiti Wars and Alter Ego.  Each video raises questions concerning graffiti and art in various ways.  After watching the videos, I knew that these films would be great conversation starters for students in the classroom.  These are some of the questions I felt one could ask a class.

What is the difference between Graffiti and Street Art?  How do you decide what is art and what is vandalism?  What does adding “value” mean?

There is a major difference between street art as there is a “hierarchy” that street art has in comparison to the “low art” of graffiti or taggers.  There are some street artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairy who have made a living selling their street art.  Street art is more welcome and accepted as there is more “intention” behind the art, rather than the “thoughtless tagging” or “bombing”.

What unwritten code or  so graffiti artists have?   Give examples of the code being broken from one of the films and what happened as a result?

There is a code that you don’t tag on homes, churches, etc.  Only run down buildings, walls.  No integration of work.  Banksy incorporated work with King Robbo and revenge quickly followed.

What is appropriation, or the history and influence, that other graffiti artists have had on each other?  Can artists consciously avoid appropriation or has everything been done and nothing new can be created?

Blek le Rat came before Bansky and was doing large stencil art.  I had never heard of Blek and it seems that Bansky has taken all of the credit for the genius street art solutions that he “invented”.  It seems very difficult to come up with completely new ideas and that we are taking ideas from our surroundings.

What are some of the differences between advertising and graffiti? (or street art).

It seems that, in a sense, there is not a big difference between graffiti and advertising.  A company pays to get an idea out to the public. Street art is done by the artist and doesn’t pay an agency.  Both parties are displaying ideas that aren’t necessarily welcomed by the public.

Other questions that could be asked:

In Brasil, street artists are using rollers.  Are there other ways that street art has evolved or transitioned because of global influences?
Can street artists make portable work and sell their ideas on canvas rather than “vandalizing” and not making a profit ?  If one did sell their art, do they limit their creativity because some ideas or styles are more profitably than others?
Is Graffiti and Street art a mirror of society?

Throughout these past few months, the study of street art and the evolution that has taken place has been quite the experience.  Street art gives a voice to those that may not have a “voice” in the traditional sense, but people have definitely taken notice.  Solutions to the deeper and more complex issues of injustice and censorship may never fully be resolved.  However, societies and minds have been transformed and opened because of these illegal activities.  Essentially, isn’t this what art is about?

Posted in Art Rules, CTS, Culture Jamming, Design Studies, Global Art, Graffiti, Reflections.