It is difficult to argue the value of graffiti. For one, you have to be a bit careful not to ‘out’ the vandals, because they are wanted people. Not just by us fans, but by the cops. Lister the most recent case in point.

I guess all I can safely say is this. If you think the ‘disrespectful hoodlums’ responsible for the public ‘defecation’ below are not exhibiting artists, respected artists, and paid artists, you would be sadly mistaken. I can tell you, at least twenty names below make the very same ‘art’ you adore. Many have been paid small or rather healthy sums to ‘legally’ paint murals that you have admired. They have lined gallery walls and adorned homes. You may have even said “now, this is art”.

I believe this capacity to effect and affect change is the secret value of graffiti. It has the power to turn ‘vandal’ into ‘validated’. Someone can start off tagging and wind up an artist. Or not. They can start off tagging and keep on tagging. Or both. An artist can start off studying fine art and then start tagging. They can graduate with honours, get signed by a gallery, and keep tagging. Street art is art on the street. Graffiti is expression/signature/style/statement on the street. Some graffiti is art, some art is graffiti. Some graffiti is not art.

Graffiti is the culture that feeds public ‘art’. The petri dish, if you like, where anyone and anything might bloom. It feeds on the rich decomposition of class wars, anarchy, political activism and radicalism that existed from the very beginning, and birthed it. Today it is far more. Some grow from it, some insert themselves into it, diving in to see how they can evolve, and some never thrive. Regardless, without it, we would have nothing.

If you still hate tags and love street art, at least try to reconcile this issue of what you love is also what you hate. They cannot be divided. You cannot have your cake and eat it, cannot take the good without the bad. For better or worse, as it goes. In sickness and in health, suck it up. They are we are us are them. It is their aesthetic wave that you are riding, and they have been around for longer than you have noticed. You cannot chose the origin of the art that you love, anymore than you can control the terms upon which it thrives.

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