Graffiti, or the practice of writing, drawing, painting or doodling on walls and other surfaces is as old as man himself, with prehistoric and ancient cave paintings of hunting scenes being the first documented proof of the same. The word comes from the Greek term ‘graphein’ and means to ‘scratch, draw or write’.
Graffiti was employed during World War II to create brotherhood among soldiers, who felt a connection with the words and images on the walls left by other soldiers.
In about a decade, the ‘vandalism’ of infrastructure and public property became a big problem in NYC, as it had a negative psychological effect on every citizen. The authorities put in measures to make it harder for the writers to hit their targets, but it just made the game more challenging and interesting for the artists.
Extreme steps were taken in 1984 to clear NYC of Subway car/train graffiti, and commuters had to face hardships, but the practice of street graffiti flourished in the coming decades.
Many artists made the concept of writing and drawing graffiti faster and more uniform by using stencils, which were made of cardboard and had the cut out of the intended art. Multiple stencils were used in creative ways to add depth and a striking visual element to the viewer.
Stencils became handy and popular as they could be used a number of times and the writer/artist only took a few seconds to complete the graffiti and flee the scene.
Many writers used stickers, speech bubbles, clay, chalk, charcoal, video projections, laser beams and even flowers to drive home the message they want to convey.
The creative minds needed space to foster, using any form of expression as a medium to make street art.
The act of writing or tagging in a public place, is a celebration of existence, but at the same time a declaration of resistance. The accessibility of street art makes it an alternate medium of information, something that is not controlled by the government, like it should be.
New tools such as computer graphic software and digital photography, along with the increased global reach due to the internet and social media have immortalized street art, unlike before.
Though street art is an accepted form of art, it is still considered as vandalism.
Many artists have the option to create artworks in galleries and museums, and get paid for it, but the adrenaline rush of doing something illegal, or going against the authorities is alluring to the artists basic instincts of adventure and thrill.
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