Graffities like inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., are founded on the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins. The meaning of this word has evolved and now includes any graphics applied to surfaces, in a way that can constitute vandalism.
The earliest forms of graffiti date back to 30,000 BCE in the form of prehistoric cave paintings and pictographs using tools such as animal bones and pigments.
Graffiti is usually related to the hip hop culture, the myriad of international styles derived from New York City Subway graffiti. Graffiti has appeared on railroad boxcars and subways. Rock and roll graffiti is a significant subgenre.Graffiti also became associated with the anti-establishment punk rock movement beginning in the 1970s.
Graffiti as an element of hip hop
In the 1960s, graffiti was used as a form of expression by political activists, and also by gangs such as the Savage Skulls. The early trendsetters were joined in the 70s by artists like Dondi, Zephyr and Lady Pink. Graffiti is one of the four elements of hip hop culture. The relationship between graffiti and hip hop culture arises both from early graffiti artists practicing other aspects of hip hop.
Graffiti saw its first seeds of competition. Artists began to break into subway yards in order to hit as many trains as they could with a lower risk, often creating larger elaborate pieces of art along the subway car sides. By 1971 tags began to take on their signature because, due to the huge number of artists, each graffiti artist needed a way to distinguish themselves. Spray paint use increased around this time as artists began to expand their work.
By the mid 1970s graffiti writing was becoming very competitive. In the late 1970s and early 1980s brought a new creativity to the scene. The MTA (Metro Transit Authority) began to repair yard fences, and remove graffiti consistently, battling the surge of graffiti artists.
Spread of graffiti culture
In 1979, graffiti artist Lee Quinones and Fab 5 Freddy were given a gallery opening in Rome by art dealer Claudio Bruni. For many outside New York, it was their first encounter with the art form.
New York 1985–1989
The years between 1985 and 1989 became known as the “die hard” era. With the increased security, the culture had taken a step back.
New York Clean Train Movement era
The Clean Train Movement started in May, 1989, when New York attempted to remove them from the subway. During this period many graffiti artists were taken to display their works in art galleries and owning their own studios.
Commercialization and entrance into mainstream pop culture
With popularity and its partial legitimization, graffiti has come to a level of commercialization. In 2001, computer giant IBM launched an advertising campaign in Chicago and San Francisco which involved people spray painting on sidewalks a peace symbol, a heart, and a penguin . However due to illegalities some of the “street artists” were arrested and charged with vandalism.
Along with the commercial growth has come the rise of video games also depicting graffiti, usually in a positive way . In plotlines mirroring the negative reaction of non-commercial artists to the commercialization of the artform by companies for Sony’s PlayStation 2 revolves around an anonymous hero and his magically imbued-with-life graffiti creations as they struggle.
Marc Ecko, an urban clothing designer, has been an advocate of graffiti as an art form during this period, stating that “Graffiti is without question the most powerful art movement in recent history .
Keith Haring was another well-known graffiti artist who brought Pop Art and graffiti to the commercial mainstream. In the 1980s, Haring opened his first Pop Shop: a store that offered everyone access to his works painted on city walls.
Graffiti has become a common stepping stone for many members of both the art and design community in the world.
Methods and production
The modern day graffiti artist can be found with an arsenal of various materials that allow for a successful production of a piece. Spray paint in aerosol cans is the number one necessity for graffiti
Stencil graffiti, originating in the early 1980s, is created by cutting out shapes and designs in a stiff material in order to form an overall design or image. This method of graffiti is popular amongst artists because of its swift technique that requires very little time.
Characteristics of common graffiti
The most common styles of graffiti have their own names.
· A ‘tag’ is a simply handstyle, is the signature. Tags sometimes contain messages. One form of taggin is ‘pissing’, it use refillable fire extinguisher with paint inside.
· Another form is the ‘throw-up’ or ‘bombing’ it’s a way for paint very quickly.
· A ‘piece’ is a more elaborate representation of the artist’s name, this style incorporates more stylized letters and more colours.