Graffiti, Baby!

We’ve all seen it, tags and expletives and characters all over our local area. Regardless of whether you’re on the side of graffiti being art or a nuisance, it holds a really fascinating concept and style that I’m dying to get into. The guiding philosophy behind street art/graffiti is accessibility: something many artists feel is lacking in the galleries, museums, and other high-art centers. It’s been used for fun, as unregulated expression, and even to relay messages of social injustice.

I had always been interested in the style of graffiti art and wondered where it came from, and by looking into it I realized there were different styles with their own unique characteristics. I knew the long history of tagging walls starting with primitive man, and the eventual impact of hip-hop culture on the style of street art. What I didn’t know was just how much culture and variety existed in this medium. I personally was thinking of Wildstyle as the blanket type, shown in the image below.

This is likely what most think of when they hear the word graffiti. It’s characterized by these complicated interwoven shapes and letters, typically difficult to read for the average viewer. In reality this style is extremely difficult, and cannot be reproduced easily like other styles of graffiti. The style itself was started by a Bronx street crew of the same name, which is supposedly still active today. The other styles of graffiti include blockbuster, stencil, throw-ups, and more each with their own unique flare.

A blockbuster style piece in Leeuwarden

I find myself writing about this today because, knowing a few street artists myself, I find their approach to form so interesting. There’s such a decisiveness to the way these artists perform brushstrokes and rendering (out of necessity with the medium) that as someone who has done more traditional art I can’t wrap my head around it. They think in abstract shapes and color theory with no name, it’s an extremely expressive and instinctual methodology. I am so glad that street art is being recognized as art nowadays, because it always has been.

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