Graffiti: Art or Vandalism?

A piece of graffiti located in The High Line. Photo Credit: Jade Matthews

A piece of graffiti located in The High Line.
Photo Credit: Jade Matthews

Graffiti is known to many as a form of vandalism and a criminal offense. Fines for defacing property can start at $250 and can result in the individual being jailed. However graffiti is rarely referred to as a form of art.

When people think of graffiti, they automatically think of something tagged on a building or something offensive. It is thought to be negative and to diminish the look of a community. But graffiti can be something positive and pleasing. It can actually be enjoyed by some people.

Certain types of graffiti enable each person to have a different view of it. Diversity is a major basis of what New York City is, and art is extremely diverse. It can be a way to influence a creative way of thinking or stir up various emotions.

“Art is whatever you make it, in my view. Like a person can put on a piece of art or you can even eat a piece of art. Art in general to me is just creativeness and the drive to take someone’s mind on a mental journey that hopefully awakens that mental eye (third eye),” said Ronnie Jackson.

Graffiti can be offensive when it words or presentation stimulated something negative. Curses or derogatory terms that are plastered on buildings should be considered vandalism. However portraits or murals, with a positive image, should be considered art.

Alex Ramkirath said, “Communities can benefit from graffiti if it depicts something of a positive nature. Not all graffiti angers people; there are people who stop to take pictures of the different artworks that are on buildings. They actually appreciate the beauty of the painting.”

Despite what appeal a work of graffiti may have to people, it is still considered a crime. If a piece of graffiti speaks to you, take a picture of it so that you’ll always have it even if it gets covered up.