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Graffiti | Street Art or Crime

When it comes to graffiti, people seem to have different views. Some believe it to be an act of crime or even property destruction, while others think of it as an art form to be preserved. But for all intents and purposes, graffiti has existed since ancient times and has also given us great knowledge of recent cultures and civilisations. In modern times, graffiti has become a form of expression for communicating messages linked to protests and dissatisfaction.

What most consider, modern graffiti began in the late 1960s where the graffiti writers tagged their names on subway cars. This graffiti subculture began to receive attention from outside world when in 1971 New York Times published an article about a popular tagger named TAKI 183. Later in 1980s, graffiti became intertwined with Hip Hop culture, where tags became more and more complex, giving way to intricate and colourful designs. Graffiti moved away from subway cars onto buildings and overpasses.

Graffiti is writings or drawings scribbled, scratched or sprayed on walls or public property. In many countries around the world, defacing buildings, civic property, bus stops or residential homes without owner’s consent is a crime and punishable under law. Although many consider graffiti a nuisance, it has been gaining recognition from the art world as a legitimate form of artwork. People are used to seeing a lot of graffiti art in public places and it has gained a lot of recognition from the art community and the graffiti art has been shown in various galleries. The artists are often commissioned to do legal murals and other work of art shows.

Although its artistic merits cannot be denied, graffiti is still, in fact, a form of vandalism. Artists tag both public and private property, which becomes a costly affair for property owners. Gang-related crimes and violence are most commonly associated with graffiti. When an area has extensive graffiti, people tend to view it as a bad neighbourhood.

Graffiti is considered a crime and exposes the artist to civil liability for damaging and defacing the property. This also applies to the typical form of graffiti, which is often more than just gang symbols, unconvincing phrases, often strewn with obscenity. If you are a victim of graffiti or tagging then you should report the matter to local police, they will check the property to look for evidence and then forward your case to the property lawyer in Melbourne to prosecute the person who committed the vandalism against you.

The legal distinction between permanent graffiti and art is permission, but the topic becomes even more complex regarding impermanent, non-destructive form of graffiti. With permission, graffiti is considered public art and without permission, graffitiing on public and private property is considered as an act of crime. However, most street art is unsanctioned and many artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey have been recognised as legitimate and socially conscious artists.

It is extremely difficult to clearly define that whether graffiti is a form of street art or a crime. This debate rages on and is expected to continue in the near future as well.