Graffiti is the images and letters that are scribbled or scratched on public property. In many countries around the world, defacing of buildings, bus stops, any civic property or residential homes without owner’s consent is punishable under law. Graffiti is not a new phenomenon – it has existed for centuries and excavations of ancient Greek and Roman sites have revealed simple scrawling and elaborate paintings. In modern times, graffiti has become a form of expression for communicating messages linked to protests and dissatisfaction and is a social and political commentary of the times. To many, graffiti is a nuisance, to others it is an art form to be preserved.
A number of interesting facts make up the untold story of graffiti in its modern avatar –
- Modern graffiti writers made their presence first felt in New York along with the evolution of hip-hop culture. However, it soon spread to other countries and took on the local form.
- Graffiti writers have a simple code of conduct. They do not practise their art on any building without taking prior permission and avoid cars, graves and tombstones, memorials and ancient sculptures.
- Graffiti is a reflection of the existing thought processes of the era, be it in the fields of music, art, culture, literature or sport. Therefore, graffiti can be said to be mirroring the popular culture and prevailing current trends.
- Spray paint is the main tool of a graffiti artist as it is very useful for quickly writing a message or painting a picture irrespective of its size.
- Graffiti artists are of two types. The first are the bombers who work fast and try to leave their mark as widely as possible. The focus here is to convey a message without a thought to the quality of the graffiti. The second type is the true artists with their unique style and form and for whom graffiti is a work of art.
The oldest traces of graffiti are the cave drawings and rock carvings discovered recently but more than 5 thousand years old. From then till the modern era, graffiti has continued to be an example of the feelings that human beings want to convey to each other.