Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?


Ainsley Najafzadeh, Staff Writer

Graffiti. What do you think of when you hear this word? Do you think of meaningless scribbles and spray paint on buildings? Or perhaps, you think of self-expressive pieces of art? Well, whatever you believe, graffiti has lived in our cities, constantly evolving for thousands of years — even tracing back to ancient cave paintings that we see in history books. Although this art form has existed for a long time, there is no agreement on whether it is art or vandalism. Some argue that graffiti is a form of expression and identity, while others argue that it is costly and destructive. However, I believe graffiti should be treated as what it is: art. 

Now, I understand why some people believe that graffiti is harmful towards our society. I, for one, don’t like the idea of spray painting other people’s property, but graffiti shouldn’t be stereotyped. Some graffiti has real meaning, whether its political or social themes are being displayed, or simply just artists trying to showcase their art. Oftentimes, graffiti artists don’t get to express themselves because of how their art is viewed by society. But these artists are no different from regular artists; they just use a different way to convey their emotions. So, why should graffiti be recognized as anything other than art? 

Graffiti can be seen throughout our cities: painted on alleyways, subways, buildings, and architecture as graffiti artists use the world to express themselves. Not only can graffiti be appreciated for its meaningful messages, but also for its beauty. While some may say that scribbles on walls aren’t beautiful, art is subjective, and as we know, ‘beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.’ The elaborate graffiti we see makes our bland cities seem lively and colorful as opposed to blank city walls. Many tourists even pay to see this amazing street art, and street art tours are gaining in popularity.

“Art is an evolutionary act. The shape of art and its role in society is constantly changing. At no point is art static. There are no rules,” said Raymond Salvatore Harmon, an American artist.

Harmon thinks art shouldn’t be limited, but rather, embraced. The amount of talent and time put into street art should be appreciated and adored just like an art piece you would see in a museum. 

Graffiti has brought so much color and inspiration to our world. It serves as many peoples’ voices and beliefs. It is unjust to limit someone’s self-expression and label all graffiti as vandalism.


Photo courtesy of Tony Monblat