The Communicative Power of Grafitti

“Graffiti marked onto public spaces can be particularly powerful because it has the potential to reach immense audiences.” All of us have seen graffiti before, whether it be sprayed over a run down building or on a prominent wall in the middle of the city, but do we ever stop to look at these artworks and examine what their meanings are? Or do we simply accept it as vandalism and continue on our way? One of the most interesting aspects of graffiti is that it is done in secret, mostly to avoid getting caught. These “secret” artists work with their art to create a sort of subtle and somewhat mysterious form of propaganda. Propaganda that is brought to you by the people, and it is for the people, it is not an act by a larger institution or any sort of hierarchy. As described by the author of this article, European graffiti (in opposition to American graffiti) tend to have a “poetic, philosophical, or political nature”. In opposition to this, American graffiti tends to focus more on “mass culture” and “pop iconography”. In Portugal, a large shift towards American-style graffiti has began to take form. The author of the article argues that this shift to American graffiti reflects a sense of fluidity that is shared amongst the world. He describes graffiti as a sort of visual language that can be shared globally, recognizing a sort of solidity that can be seen throughout the world. Do you see the visual arts as a communicative language that can cross various cultures? What about graffiti in itself, is the sort of illegal nature of graffiti problematic to this sense of a shared language? Are street corners and walls an adequate venue for communication? Ricardo Campos (the author) claims that these areas are valuable because they have a strong chance of reaching the general public. Do you find yourself noticing graffiti or thinking deeply about the meanings behind these forms of art?