Can graffiti be considered Art?

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.


NOE TWO - Graffiti artist from Paris, France

NOE TWO – Graffiti artist from Paris, France

6 thoughts on “Can graffiti be considered Art?

  1. Looking forward to your new painting.I think that Graffiti is Art in its own right. It is an expression of the Artist concerned.Look at Banksy. His graffiti is known all over the world.Graffiti and Art shows an expression painted or drawn by an individual.Cheers.Klbass.

    Date: Wed, 16 Apr 2014 19:17:33 +0000 To:

  2. Well said! I am paraphrasing and stealing. “The ownership of the canvas is not a factor in the greatness of art” – Thank you! Hmmmm…. better still, “The canvas is not the art”

  3. I like to separate art in either decor or transcendent. The latter we learn in classes and find in museums. The former here today, gone tomorrow. They don’t contribute much to the greater idea/purpose of what is Art with a capital A. Yes, Art make one think, spark ideas and feelings. Graffiti is interesting because it is usual unwanted decor. There are by-laws for building owners to get rid of them within certain time frame or else. If we find large billboards annoy certainly graffiti is part of that mix- an in your face, look at me media…intrusive. It is because of this street exposure that I say graffiti is not art and more like advertisement. There is artistry to making commercials but it is not Art. Art wants to be revolutionary. It should not be force upon the public to see but rather be seek out.

  4. Thanks for your comment! I guess to me graffiti is like any other sub genre of visual art and as such there’s stuff I like and stuff I don’t. The creation of graffiti is really interesting to me since it can’t be unbound from city context and socio-economic conditions. There’s so much going on there and I don’t think people appreciate its complexity since it’s derided as a one note act of vandalism. Within the genre of graffiti there’s incredibly reflective and interesting stuff as well as inane scribbles.

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