The Graffiti Writing project was not one that I was looking forward to doing, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I realized that graffiti art is actually an artform, not just a form of rebellious vandalism.
Street artists usually don’t get very much credit for the hundreds of pieces they make every year. I have seen wonderful artistic creations created within half an hour by these talented people, done on the sidewalk in front of crowds full of fascinated tourists. Speed painters were always fun to watch when I was in high school, but the spray painters always made the best art.
Graffiti artists were always stratified into two groups when I was younger: fun ones by the pier and dangerous ones by the bad neighborhoods. This perception may have been because kids are shown that graffiti is dirty and causes places to look run-down. By the age we are able to watch and absorb cartoons, we are told what a bad neighborhood looks like. This could happen through after-school specials, Spongebob, or even the movies our parents watch while we’re in the same room subconciously internalizing it. In any of these cases, black spray paint covering city walls is the textbook media description for a “bad” area. These generalizations are internalized by children every day, making them judge something before they ever come into contact with it.
I have never liked graffiti for these very reasons. I was taught that tagging is a useless endeavor that does nothing but bring down the spirit of the neighborhood. So, buying two cans of spray paint to be used on concrete felt like one of the most unnatural purchases of my life.
Although I was open-minded about trying the activity, I couldn’t visualize myself spray painting an actual wall. Instead, I picked up a wooden board from Home Depot. Once I began shaking the cans, the idea of tagging felt more natural, no longer burdened by decade-old biases. Spraying my name was really fun, and I understood why it’s such a common activity within street art communities. Certain aspects of graffiti cannot be achieved by regular brush strokes, and there’s an authenticity to needing nothing but a spray can and your own creativity. I’ll definitely continue using spray cans for recreational artwork and as a fun, last-minute activity with friends.