Street Art vs Graffiti/Vandalism

When examining the effects of art, specifically urban based wall murals or installations, it is vital to draw an important distinction between the defining factors of what makes up street art, and what is classified as graffiti. The metrics aren’t drawn in artistic ability, but rather by the messages, style, and emotion evoked from the piece, and how it either benefits or disrupts the built environment these pieces are placed within.

When examining graffiti, we have to take account of the various reasons that a wall or space may be tagged regardless of the artistic ability of the vandal. Tags communicate various messages ranging anywhere from gang territory markers, messages of political upheaval, to even something as simple as a small doodle denoting that a local tag artist has been within the area. This art is not government sanctioned however, and is punishable by law depending on the size of a piece and the severity of it’s location.

In comparison to graffiti however, street art has become a widely accepted form of expression specifically within more modern years. Typically used to adorn building sides with art meant to decorate and entertain rather than display communication, street murals are typically pieces commissioned from an established artist either by local governments or surrounding communities. These pieces are not products of unheard political opinions designed to allow those without a voice the ability to communicate. They are focused on the enrichment and inter connectivity of local communities by establishing common mediums with which to give residents a sense of locality and pride for ones daily environment.