Today, I included the comment below on a discussion board on LinkedIn. It’s written in response to the question of whether graffiti is art. I’ve been thinking about graffiti for a long time, so I was happy to put in my 2 cents. Feel free to offer your own commentary.
I think that graffiti can definitely come from an artful place. You have to ask yourself what you mean by ‘art’. Are you talking about Art as artifact or Art as being something that arises out of artful intent. Personally, I collect images of truly artful pieces of graffiti. As an architect and artist, I really appreciate the spatial and contextual qualities of some graffiti art. When done well, graffiti can transform an otherwise marginal space into something reflective and engaging. It can also give a place an identity in a way that it may not have had before.
In terms of vandalism, property ownership is a totally separate question from ‘is it art?’. It’s not part of the same discussion. By that I mean that the actual ownership of the canvas on which something is painted, is not one of the factors generally considered when absorbing the relative greatness of a work of art.
For myself I take a more democratic approach to deeming what is art and what isn’t. In my experience, art critics have had little luck in predicting what I will find moving. And that’s really the point of art isn’t it? To move you in some way. Holding on to checklists of what is right or proper in the art world has never created anything worth my time. All of the artists I have loved broke the rules and redefined that very question of what is art.