Graffiti Verite' Banner Logo, (c) BRYAN WORLD PRODUCTIONS

by Sharon Jordan

Graffiti is one of the biggest problems that destroys our community. One can find graffiti everywhere on  the walls, street signs, someone's backyard fence, mailboxes, trucks, business stores, buildings, bus stops and so on. This is a controversial issue among anti-graffiti and pro graffiti groups since some people consider graffiti as vandalism while others say it's art. However, graffiti is not art, it's vandalism because it defaces private and public property without the owners permission, ruins the community, hurts the feelings of people, lessens the value of homes, and urges hatred, killings, death and crime.

Although some people say graffiti is art, it's ready vandalism because it destroys private and public property when done illegally. In the article "Graffiti Paint Outs," Captain Daniel Schatz states that a young kid involved in a gang destroyed a lot of properties when he "scrawled his moniker more than 1 0,000 times during a vandalism rampage throughout Southern Califomia ... [costing] more than $500,000 damage to public and private properties" (Schatz 1). Spending $500,000 to replace the damage this kid had done is a matter that should be taken seriously because this is a lot of money to repair one young kid's irresponsibility. The $500,000 should have been used to help the community to become a better place to live -in, such as building or replacing schools and recreation parks , instead of having the money go to waste. Tax payers are spending a lot of money repainting and replacing these damages. Graffiti should not be considered art since it defaces private and public properties.

Whereas pro-graffiti groups say taggers "ran out of places to paint where it wouldn't bother anybody!' (Doug), graffiti does bother the community and breaks it up. When one person tags, like the young kid captain Daniel Schatz discussed, it affects the community, giving the community a negative expression. With all the graffiti seen everywhere, the community would look dirty, making it look like a ghetto. Since the city looks dirty, people wouldn't care about trashing it more by leaving garbage everywhere and destroying the public properties. This is a crime and an offense to the law. Newcomers or people not familiar to the area would not want to visit since they would feel unsafe in a place that is full of garbage, crime, and hostility. When people do not care about their community, this weakens unity, an important element that makes a community successful. Thus, graffiti is just a form of destruction to the community.

Graffiti, a form of vandalism, hurts not only the community, but the people as well, even though some say that tagging hurts the kids as much as it hurts the property owner (Doug). One Times staff writer, Bob Sipchen, feels this way when he says in "With Pen and Attitude, Two Taggers Leave Their Mark" that "taggers scratched not only at the city's increasing thin facade of civility- they scratched at one man's belief he could control his own small slice of life. They eroded what little peace of mind he'd earned, and left scars on his self-respect' (Sipchen). Graffiti makes a person feel unsafe in his/her own house when taggers vandalize their property. Also, taggers do not care about homeowners feelings and they do not respect them when they damage the property. Furthermore, taggers are ruining the property owners dignity since they destroy the hard earned possessions, and territory or house of homeowners. Hence, vandalism hurts a person's pride and feelings.

Though pro-graffiti groups say artistic graffiti is a form of self-expression, graffiti, most known as the activity of gangs, promotes crime, hate, killings and death. For example, Captain Daniel Schatz, in "Graffiti Paints Outs" states "graffiti, often broadcasts the activities of street gangs, such as whether they plan to kill, or whether they have already killed" (Schatz 1). Gangs bring trouble or fights when they broadcast these statements. When gangs tag on a wall, where graffiti is written on, of who they are planning to kill or have already killed, their enemies would get very angry and would come looking for them. This is not art if it shows a negative self-expression that s/he is going to kill or already has killed another human being. These gangs are not showing their art, but their crime.

Another example: Michael Quintanilla, in "War of the Walls," writes about a young tagger, a person who tags, who brought weapons to protect himself because the kid had gotten jumped a few times [so] ... During the day [the kid carried} a screwdriver or knife for protection. But at night, [he carried] a gun" (Quintanilla). Anyone carrying a gun or any kind of weapon is bound to hurt or kill someone else. Graffiti only shows people to hate one another which lead to killings and committing a crime.

Graffiti, scribbles and drawings done on private and public property without permission, is vandalism since it "reduces property values" as defined by Captain Daniel Schatz, although pro-graffiti groups say that graffiti is art and it's really pretty. In the article, "New Role for Graffiti: Suburban Eyesores, Montgomery's Epidemic Gets More Virulent," Joyce Murdoch writes about one homeowner who felt that it was useless repainting his fence when he know it was going to be later marked on again (Murdoch). This homeowner felt the hopelessness of repainting over the graffiti when it will be tagged on again. The homeowner felt it wasn't worth it to keep painting over the tags. When he stopped painting over the scribbles on his fence, it seemed to the rest of the world that he didn't care what the taggers did on his own property anymore. Thus, there was no pride in showing his home off when there were scribbles written on it. Furthermore, graffiti makes the house dirty-looking, making it worthless or of lesser value than it is really worth.

One can see that there are negative outcomes of graffiti and we should not promote graffiti as art. Moreover, people should not support kids who vandalize since the kids do not care about hurting other people's feelings and about destroying their community. The community should put a stop to this graffiti since it just creates chaos and destruction in our lives.

Works Cited

Doug. "That Tired Old Graffiti Advocate Strategy."

Murdoch, Joyce. "New Role for Graffiti: Suburban Eyesores, Montgomery is Epidemic Gets More Virulent."
The Washington Post. May 7, 1993.

Quintanilla, Michael. "War of the Walls." Los Angeles Times. July 14, 1993.

Schatz, Daniel. "Graffiti Paints Outs." FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, June 1992. 1-3.

Sipchen, Bob. "With Pen and Attitude, Two  Taggers Leave Their Mark." Los Angeles Times. June 8, 1993.

 Home Page  |  Graffiti Art & Culture  |  Documentary Videos  | Contact/Email

SFSU Student Essays reproduced with permission of the Student(s).
All Student(s) Essays were submitted by Professor L. Barroca, San Francisco State University
Copyright, 1999, All Rights Reserved
Graffiti Verite' / GV2, International Graffiti Art Competition