Graffiti - art or bullsht?


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 19:02
David has offered graffiti as a possible subject for the current weekly competition. OK, its an interesting subject from our point of view, and 'art' is a very flexible concept, but the graffiti on general view seems naive, ugly and tedious. OK, Banksy has introduced humour, but would you really like it on the side of your house? Or even on the inside?


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 19:08
It depends on the graffiti. Just a simple tag - no that is not art, but some is indeed art, and I would happily have it on, or in my house.


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 19:16
I went to the Banksy exhibition in Bristol. It was the best exhibition I have been to either art or "museum" exhibition. It was funny, thoughtful, provocative, talented, artistic, clever. It was acclaimed critically and all the comments I heard from visitors were positive. It bumped into one of the world's most popular exhibitions. I queued for two hours and was about 20th in through the door.

I would jump at the chance of a Banksy on the side of my house as I could then afford a 645D and lenses.

There are some really dire mindless, examples of painting and photography. I'm sure there are dire examples of mindless graffiti too.

Art covers a wide, wide spectrum. Photography too. The BJP had a ad for its HD-DSLR vid comp!!!! this month. You can get inspiration from many places and whilst some graffiti in not necessarily any good, it can still be a starting point for other art.
Lurking is shirking.!


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 19:49
a proper wall like this one here where they actual have national graffiti competitions then yes, it is an art and can be just stunning

Gareth, are you sure about that? It looks pretty grim to me!


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 19:59
Does it matter whether it is art or not? To me the only question would be is it an interesting subject to photograph or not? Personally - I would be no more interested in photographing graffiti than I would be in photographing paintings - which is not to say I can not admire paintings or graffiti.

Then again I happily photgraph sculpture - so perhaps I do not know what I am talking about and should shut up
No matter how many lenses I have owned - I have always needed just one more

Daniel Bridge

Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 20:49
I've started taking photos of graffiti I find amusing, but it's rare that I see much 'art' in graffiti. But then, if the art was intended to amuse...

I actually took one today, which may end up being entered into David's competition. In the meantime, here's one I took in January, which I thought was the work of an indecisive graffiti artist.

K-3, a macro lens and a DA*300mm...


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 20:50
Sorry, to me it's always in the vandalism category unless the owner of the item which has been covered has given permission. It makes an area look rough and unkempt and simply attracts more damage.

Certain media elements trying to be trendy and chattering about Banksy does not help either - it just encourages any idiot with a spraycan to have a go!

Shooting the Welsh Wilderness with K-m, KX, MX, ME Super and assorted lenses.


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:05
Have a look through William Eggleston's Paris if you want inspiration on how to use street art/ graffiti. Available hardback from amazon for a reasonable price.
Lurking is shirking.!


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:07
OK, it may be 'art' (pick your favourite definition) but I still find that graffiti is almost always banal, derivative and tiresome.

Does simply labelling something as 'art' automatically make anything acceptable and desirable?


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:14
We've been doing it for 30,000 years?

Damn chavvy cave folk.
Lurking is shirking.!
Last Edited by dougf8 on 27/09/2010 - 21:15


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:17
alun wrote:
OK, it may be 'art' (pick your favourite definition) but I still find that graffiti is almost always banal, derivative and tiresome.

I would have thought that being banal, derivative and tiresome practically qualifies it as Art, actually!

It's surprising though how intolerant we are of graffiti, whereas billboard advertising seems to be acceptable. My sister used to have a beautiful view of a 15ft tall diseased lung from her bedroom window, courtesy of a government health campaign. She was going through a spell of depression and I'm sure it didn't help!
Last Edited by Pentaxophile on 27/09/2010 - 21:20


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:29
Another vote for Banksy here. Some of his pictures are sheer genius. I'm not sure if they are 'art' but as thought-provoking political commentary I'd say they are most definitely not 'bullshit'.

In order to spend as little time as possible at the scene a lot of his stuff is spray painted through pre-cut stencils (which he makes himself), does that make it 'not art'?

One of my favourites:

AF - Pentax K5, Sigma 10-20/4-5.6, Tamron 17-50/2.8, Sigma 30/1.4, Sigma 70-200/2.8, Tamron 70-300/4-5.6
MF - Vivitar CF 28/2.8, Tamron AD2 90/2.5, MTO 1000/11
Stuff - Metz 58 AF1, Cactus v4, Nikon SB24, Raynox 150, Sigma 1.4x TC, Sigma 2x TC, Kenko 2x macro TC, Redsnapper 283 tripod, iMac 27, Macbook Pro 17, iPad, iPhone 3G
Flickr Fluidr PPG Street Portfolio site
Feel free to edit any of my posted photos! If I post a photo for critique, I want brutal honesty. If you don't like it, please say so and tell me why!


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:32
Poor David - he has offered a subject. One that is certainly photogenic. As such why not for a competition subject?

However in my book the examples of the genre put forward by some of the comments in this thread (as art), do not justify the overall downgrading effect it has on neighbourhoods, or travel experience.

I would happily see a law which ruled that anyone caught doing it in a destructive way should have their thumb and first finger chopped off be difficult to hold and operate a spray can that way.

But it is with us so let the competition idea stand. If only a record of social decay.


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:32
dougf8 wrote:
We've been doing it for 30,000 years?

Damn chavvy cave folk.

We enjoyed some cave graffiti on holiday in France this year.

True graffiti artists do not deface or tag another's work, which is why it is popular as an anti graffiti measure in some places.

I agree with Pentaxophile's comments above too.


Link Posted 27/09/2010 - 21:38
Tim, I agree with your comments, and, as I said earlier, Banksy does inject genuine humour, as your example shows. However, I feel it is a one-shot, throw away style that is necessarily limited in its longevity.
It then may soon become tedious, like a one-line joke endlessly repeated on tv.
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