Graffiti is writing or drawings that have been scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface, often in a public place, and ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings. In modern times, paint (particularly spray paint) and marker pens have become the most commonly used graffiti materials. In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner's consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime. Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles.
Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials, law enforcement, and writers who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. There are many different types and styles of graffiti and it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested and reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.
- I think it’s fantastic that graffiti and street artists are getting the recognition they deserve – it’s art with a social message made by anyone who’s got the bottle to spray on a wall and risk arrest.
- Bambi, quoted in Hannah Ellis-Petersen, "Bambi: graffiti artist on why she's more than just a 'female Banksy'" The Guardian, October 18, 2015
- People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish. But that's only if it's done properly.
- T.V. has made going to the theatre seem pointless, photography has pretty much killed painting but graffiti has remained gloriously unspoilt by progress.
- Banksy, Wall and Piece (2005), p. 156
- Graffiti has more chance of meaning something or changing stuff than anything indoors. Graffiti has been used to start revolutions, stop wars, and generally is the voice of people who aren't listened to. Graffiti is one of those few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don't come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make somebody smile while they're having a piss.
- I largely see graffiti as a set of painting techniques that represent an individual’s artistic expression. There are 3 main types of graffiti designs: character pieces, realistic pieces, and text pieces. I most often do text pieces, of which there are 4 styles: 2D, 3D, Wild Style, and Old School. I love Wild Style the most, which involves very colorful designs. I have a personal theme that I like to involve in my work – the butterfly. That is where I derive my name from: BF stands for butterfly. I try to convey the character of a butterfly when I do my work – things like freedom and bold expression. I want to be able to freely express my ideas and feelings through graffiti. Many people see graffiti as one of four main pillars of hip hop culture. I agree with this to an extent, but for me personally, graffiti is mostly a personal pursuit of artistic expression. My perception is that in places like the USA and Korea, maybe graffiti is more readily seen as hip hop culture, but maybe in some other places like Europe, it is less defined and might be seen as more of an artistic expression.
- BMFin, quoted in "BFMin, Korean Graffiti Artist From Seoul, Talks About His Inspirations, Challenges, & Hip Hop," College Times September 23, 2008
- [The street art is] decorative, contextual, layered and artists aren’t afraid of giving their name. Graffiti is more underground, more rebel.
- It was a big joke actually. The police thought that we were more than artists—they thought we were terrorists that wanted to bomb the city. They spent three days searching us and we spent one day in custody. In the end, the mayor of the city decided to release us.
- DALeast, quoted in "DALeast: The street artist breaking out of China," Independent, September 23, 2013
̈* Our first goal is to contribute something to beautify Kabul. Plus, Kabul has all of these blast walls, and they look extremely ugly. ː Psychologically, when I come into Kabul I feel under siege. So we're painting some strategic pieces of art in order to educate the public. ː When you put a picture on a wall, the wall disappears and you are in a new space, that's very important for me. ː They are just passers-by, they're curious about what we are doing. Sometimes they have a bit of apprehension and we just invite them to come and paint. ː What we want to do is to show them through these simple paintings, block colours, is that you can actually break down these complex things into elements, and then you can pull them apart and put them together to make something new.
- Kabir Mokamel "Afghan graffiti artist strives to beautify Kabul", 26 AUGUST 2015.
- I grew up in a very small town, without buildings but only houses – not the best for tagging. Also I liked the atmosphere of abandoned spaces, somehow apart from the real world. A good place to practice.It was only when I moved to a bigger city and felt more confident about my paintings that I started to do it in the streets. Tagging then became a drug; I was addicted to graffiti.
- With this new way of painting, this new feeling, it was more interesting for me to paint purely for the action, more than for the result; it changed my approach to painting; when I go into abandoned places or I get commissioned to do murals, I can spend a few hours, a whole day or even a few days on a painting, sometimes, because I want to do my best. But getting back out into the streets is really exciting, the quickness is like a sport, a dance. I need it.
- The first pieces I did in abandoned factories were in 1998, and I became more active with street graffiti in 2005.Whereas, before I was apprehensive to offend the public, I began to care less. When I began working in the street was when I developed the capacity to be able to say or express what was inside of me to the public.
- If people get angry, my understanding is now that it’s just paint on a wall, and so not a big deal. I think that the streets should be for everyone and it’s better to have colours, shapes, and letters, than just grey walls or advertising, but I still have respect for certain spots. Even if it’s not my main priority when I go bombing, I am often trying to make a place look better, nicer than before. However, ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder’ and some people will never like illegal paintings.
- Nelio, quoted in Demian Smith, "Interview with French abstract graffiti artist Nelio," Underground Paris, July 2, 2014.
- Well, it was just—it seemed like it was violence, and, like, 'cause I went by some of the stores that, like, I don't really eat at McDonald's, y'know, but a lot of people do, and so there are these people who want, y'know, they're-they're socialists but they hate people, y'know, so they go trash the McDonald's, and I just think it was just reckless violence, and they weren't tryin'a accomplish anything, and they said—he was writing something on the wall, some kind of graffiti that was just stupid and cliché, and I said, "Hey, how would you like if someone did that to your house?" and he yelled back, "Fuck you!" and these other people started yelling "Fuck you!" at me; I'm, like, "Oh," like "I'm in trouble."
- Krist Novoselic, interviewed by Nick Gillespie, "Nirvana's Krist Novoselic on Punk, Politics, & Why He Dumped the Dems", ReasonTV (19 June 2014), 28:27–29:07
- About the 1999 Seattle WTO protests
- I wanted that work to carry the most important message ... that a person mustn't sell himself. I made a chocolate bar that can't be bought, using a giant panel of concrete.
- P183 "Dead Street Artist Russian Banksy Dies" 2013/04/03, Huffington Post
- Italy and Europe in general can boast an ancient and hugely important tradition in art. It is difficult to enter the scene if you do something new, especially if it doesn’t belong to your traditional culture. I was lucky to travel very soon at the beginning of my career, so I was able to reach relative notoriety overseas (especially in America and Canada). There, people are of course more used to graffiti and more interested in discovering and appreciating it. My work improved greatly thanks to the foreign market. The audience was more openminded and I have been able to create a stronger artistic identity thanks to them. Nowadays I am working a lot in Europe and I am starting to have interesting clients in Italy also. It’s a bit difficult, in Italy, to find places to showcase graffiti art, but I can perceive a growing attention to the movement and initiatives that promote a harmonic mix of urban architecture and wall painting.
- Peeta "Identity in 3D | Interview with Italian Graffiti Writer and Artist Peeta" Staisey Benelli, Ganzo, un 27, 2013.
- Graffiti is a culture where if you're shit, everyone is quick to tell you. The mark of respect for a graffiti artists is how long your "piece" and tag stay up on a wall. Out of raw respect, other artists will not paint over something they think is good, and anyone who does paint over it better be prepared for a beat-down. However, if your stuff is no good, or if you are seen as amateur, you'll quickly find the word "lame" written all over your work. The offending person would then leave their own tag on the side as a direct challenge. The only way to get even was to be good. In the days before the mainstreaming of hip-hop culture and the appreciation of artists like Banksy, this was classic counterculture stuff.
- Maajid Nawaz, Radical: My Journey out of Islamic Extremism (2013), p. 23
- Sure, but Germany actually provides us with graffiti lawyers. And you need to be caught in action in order for the police to arrest you.
- Graffiti is graffiti and street art is street art. Street artists are more concerned with getting a message out to the public. And it often has political and social overtones. Graffiti is about style.
- They need to learn the importance of respect. They think getting up is cool, but too many young writers out there don’t have any knowledge of graffiti’s roots.
- Semor "Speaking with Semor" Street Art NYC, MaY 20, 2013