Should Graffiti Ever be Considered Art?


Tiger graffiti by James Klinge in Glasgow, Scotland.

Before we can discuss graffiti, we need to define the word art. defines art as “the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.” Graffiti has been a great debate in the art world for many years. Some people say that it’s vandalism, and some say that it’s art. Some countries even made graffiti illegal. 

Art is such a huge world. If a baby scribbles random lines on the paper, that might be considered art. So debating whether an artist’s work is “art” or not is a complex discussion. In a lifestyle poll taken by, sixty-six percent of the British public think graffiti can be considered as art. In addition, reported that there is little difference in opinion by gender; however, the young are far more likely to think that graffiti is art than their elders.

Graffiti appears to be one of the biggest topics in the art world right now. Banksy, a famous graffiti artist in England, is known for his street art. His work is usually found in random places and often considered vandalism. The reason people are attracted to his art is that it expresses his beliefs and often his criticisms, especially toward corruption in politics. 

In my opinion, graffiti is art. For me, the definition of art is an expression of one’s opinions and their creative talents. It is wholly a visual example of an artist’s deep connection to his or her beliefs or thoughts. As humans, I believe we have been creating graffiti for over 5,000 years. For example, cave art was a form of graffiti. The Mayan culture developed a calendar carved on stone walls, which is another form of graffiti. We call those carvings art, don’t we? 

Graffiti artists should also be careful about where the graffiti is drawn. Depending on the place the graffiti is drawn, it could be considered a crime or art. For example, if you do graffiti on a public wall or a beautiful statue, then it would be a crime because you are defacing another artist’s work or public property. If you draw on a wall in a parking lot or a train station, in order to decorate the place, it could be considered as art. Graffiti can also create a landmark. In Melbourne, Australia, where I lived for two years, there is a street that’s filled with graffiti. It looks messy because of the layers of all kinds of graffiti, but people still visit Melbourne just to see that artwork.

It also depends on the message the artist is trying to send by drawing the graffiti. If the graffiti contains a bad message, it might be a hate crime. Another interesting fact about graffiti is that you don’t have to go to a specific place to see it. It is everywhere in large cities. You see it whether you want to or not. If you saw negative graffiti on the street, would you be happy about it? If not, what could you do about it?

Because graffiti is such a controversial topic, The DiRectory interviewed some Rectory students for their opinions. Seventh-grader, Clement W., said, “Graffiti should definitely be considered art, no matter if it is vandalism or not. Art is a very diverse subject, and with all the art forms that we have nowadays, there is no reason why graffiti should not be considered art.” Ninth-grader, Rose F., said, “Graffiti is vandalism because some have a purpose or message, but others are just meaningless.” 

Art is a big part of our lives; most schools in the U.S. teach art as one of their subjects. In my opinion, graffiti, the great debate in the art world, should be considered art. Some people even say that schools should teach graffiti as part of their art curriculum. So, what is your opinion?