Can Graffiti Ever be Considered Art?

A wall of graffiti. Photo Credit: Britannica

A wall of graffiti. Photo Credit: Britannica

Grace Kim, Photojournalist

In major cities like Los Angeles and New York, most buildings have some type of writing or drawing painted on their walls. Although some of these murals are created on purpose, several are done without the owner’s acknowledgement. Graffiti, also known as street art, defines paintings or words written on public places. Some call this form of expression vandalism while others identify it as a form of art.


According to the law, graffiti is vandalism. To scribble on another individual’s property without their consent is illegal in the United States. However, some people view graffiti as a form of modern art. Arguments against graffiti is understandable. For one, these “scribbles” make places look dirty and unsafe. This is because much of the public correlate graffiti with gangs. Gangs would use words and symbols to mark their turf and intimidate other rivals. Not to mention, huge amounts of tax money are spent on removing graffiti from towns and neighborhoods. With that in mind, instead of using the tax money on improving schools, hospitals, and neighborhoods, tax money is wasted on removing graffiti. Even though graffiti has controversial aspects including gang affiliation and unnecessary loss of tax money, graffiti should be considered a form of art.


As with many other “either or” arguments, there are exceptions to the inclusion of graffiti into art. Graffiti related to drugs, violence, and gangs are not considered art. It is important to understand the difference between taggers and graffiti artists. Because of their similar methods, many confuse the difference between taggers and graffiti artists. Taggers are usually inexperienced adolescents who scribble on the walls of public/private buildings; however, graffiti artists create a thought out artistic piece. In the end, graffiti should be categorized as a form of art.


Graffiti is a form of expression.  Unlike the scribbles and marks many people confuse graffiti as, when done properly and with experience, graffiti creates beautiful pieces of art. In fact, certain artists, whom categorize themselves as a graffiti artists, are actually really successful in selling their artworks. Just last week, a British artist, Banksy, sold his artwork for more than 400,000 dollars. Not only Banksy, but the graffiti platform is on the rise. Many people actually enjoy graffiti as a form of art. Including its increasing prominence, graffiti usually carries an important message. As mentioned before, graffiti is a form of art and a form of expression. It uses their platform to express a comment about society. With that in mind, graffiti is beneficial for the community in providing individuals the voice to express their opinion about a certain matter in their society. Amber Le (11) ¨understand[s] why some may think that graffiti is considered vandalism, but I believe with the right restriction and rules it can be categorized as art. All in all, with the right message and the right placement of graffiti, many will come to an conclusion that graffiti is a form of art.