Graffiti: Legitimate Street Art or Public Blight?


If you live in a city or town of any size, you have no doubt seen graffiti. It might consist of a few scribbled words or wildly elaborate tableaux that demonstrate the artist has genuine talent. Whether the latter is true or not, if the painter does not have permission to add their art, it is still a crime. Cities have wrestled with the notion of what to do about graffiti for decades. There doesn’t seem to be a definitive answer, though some have also started to embrace this form of street art by allowing it in certain areas.

Graffiti was often seen as a sign of rebellion and fight against public order. Someone with a grudge working out their frustration on either public or private property. It might be to express an ideology, cause general offense, or have no meaning whatsoever.

Whatever the reasoning behind most graffiti, it usually provokes a negative reaction. However, some of this art is so striking, even many authorities have expressed a begrudging admiration. British street artist Banksy garnered attention around the globe for his amazing work, which often incorporated satirical and/or subversive themes.

In an attempt to dissuade continued graffiti vandalism, some cities have adopted a “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” attitude by designating certain areas as places where artists can express themselves without threat from the law, providing they leave other spaces in the city alone. This experiment has often brought new life to sections of cities that were derelict or otherwise in desperate need of a facelift.

What is your take on graffiti? Do you feel it is right for artists to express themselves in such a way in order to make a statement? Are you willing to take the bad/offensive art with the good? Or should all graffiti remain criminal and banned?