That wall is worth a fortune

Graffiti. Love it or loathe it, man has always had a primal urge to draw on walls. While we make cultural judgements and distinctions in other creative media graffiti has a tendency to be lumped in together by the mainstream. There seems little distinction between types of graffiti, whether it be a scribbled insult, 'tagging' or large pieces of work that have been executed with considerable skill and artistry. Consequently most graffiti (or 'street art' as it has been dubbed by the Wooster collective - a group of American based street art fans who document the best examples of this worldwide cultural phenomenon on the web) gets labelled as vandalism and devalued as such.

Much of the work posted on the Wooster collective site has political leanings and even the examples of art for the sake or art demonstrate the staggering levels of skill and creativity. This is not thoughtless scribble. The fact that the artists have chosen to use public spaces (not this blog) to display their work affords them the benefit of exposing their work to a wide audience and also the double edged sword of relative anonymity (often through necessity).

One of the most well known of these artists is UK counter culture icon, Banksy. Banksy has managed to hide his real identity (although his Banksy moniker is famous around the world) while continuing to produce his often funny, usually political statements in high profile public spaces up and down the country. While Banksy is unusual in that he has created a persona that, through well handled media coverage and carefully chosen commissions, is making him money and creating a demand for his work. Most street artists, although probably making money from their skills in their day jobs, are not as well known in the mainstream as banksy has become. MTV and Nike are not knocking on their door with offers of ridiculous amounts of money to create artworks for their latest media campaigns. So why do they do it?

At the risk of alienating my fellow bloggers I am going to attempt to make a comparison between graffiti and blogging. I am not saying that blogging is e-graffiti but I do think that there are definite similarities between the 2 forms of expression. While few blogs give direct commercial reward to the blogger, well written blogs will attract readers who will in turn create an audience for that blog, and by association the blogger. There are those out there who blog for a professional audience and who have embraced the potential of the blog as a public space in which to promote their opinions and to encourage discussion. There are even more blogs that serve simply as a record of the daily goings on of the blogger's life.

Seth Godin poses some interesting questions about the reason behind most blogs if there is no financial gain. I think that it harks back to our primal urge to express ourselves in public spaces.

Interesting post on Banksy in the Guardian newsblog


Blogger KaMeeL said...

Not pretending to have any insight in why graffiti artists (yes, some really are that) dot what they do. But your comparison with bloggers is, however odd at first sight, quite interesting. And the more I think about it, the more I feel you might be right. Which is, by the way, no reason for me personally to go out and buy spray cans... Especially with this freezing wind blowing over Flanders nowadays, I prefer to stay inside, cosily installed in front of my pc with a mug of hot chocolate milk within reach. Oh, yes: I am sold where the English countryside is concerned. But I think I had already been so for quite some time.

10:44 am  
Blogger 2 cents worth said...

Please visit Barcelona Spain if you like to see Grafiti.......absolutely great! funny this is that most of it is not tagged??? you can paint and nobody will destroy for the most part....
david martinez

9:51 am  

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