First, an aside on Graffiti. Graffiti can be put into one of two categories: constructive or destructive. Constructive graffiti is designed to beautify or enhance an area. Everything featured in the Bomb It video can probably be classified as constructive graffiti. Destructive graffiti, however, is the vast majority of graffiti because it includes tagging. Tagging buildings is deplorable, and serves no purpose to the community. It only promotes exclusion and boundaries from gangs or other organizations marking their territories no better than beasts: devolved, and uncivilized.
This activity was simple in premise, but actually difficult in execution. I apparently do not have the motor skills necessary to make bubble letters. This came as quite the surprise as I started painting my first letter, “K”, to find that it was actually an “R”. A little bit of spray paint, however, carefully covered that mistake.
Aside from my lack of motors skills, I found the activity enjoyable. I think there is something inherently satisfying about pointing something in a direction and something occurring: whether that something be a gun firing a bullet, a general commanding an army, or a can spraying paint. It gives a sense of power to the artist. The sense of power from doing this painting may be the appear to the urban environment, as they often have their power stripped away by socioeconomic circumstances.
Another benefit with working with spray paint is the speed in which the work is completed. I use the word work here intentionally, because if you’re trying to paint something quickly on property that doesn’t belong to you, that “work” is probably illegal.
I enjoyed this activity, however, because I didn’t have to destroy someone else’s property to do it. I bought a board from Art Supply Warehouse with some spray paint I already owned and did the work on my property. Everything I created and destroyed was my own to do it with. While I appreciate the accessibility of street art, most of it I cannot condone because it is done without the property owner’s permission. I live in Stanton, and I don’t even have to walk a quarter of a mile to see tagging destroying something that would otherwise be beautiful by itself. It’s not just walls that are easy to paint over, but windows that the property owners cannot paint over. Tagging destroys community property values and ultimately results in the people living in those communities destroying their own community. The reason I mention this is due to the work I created resembling a typical tag. It took me fewer than 5 minutes to complete, and I thought about how easy it is for people to do this to other people’s property; an unsettling thought indeed.