I watched an amazing documentary about hip hop in the UK in the 80’s written and directed by Tim Westwood – Open space/ bad meaning good. They interviewed a young graffiti artist called ‘Pride’ and another fellow artist about their graffiti in the 80’s. The perception of their art form is very telling.
“……….art school taught me discipline and structure but initially there was conflict graffiti wasn’t really an art form because it had such negative connotations. It was like a uphill struggle for me to get my work accepted in the same sort of confines of water colour paintings and oils. Generally if you look at the volume of young people who are doing graffiti how you should take that as a message. People aren’t necessarily going to be able to go to art school to produce creative pieces of work yet there still creating creative pieces of work in the their environment. And not see it as vandalism but a cry from the heart that people actually want to produce art”. Pride Graffiti Artist 1980
“…..there are a lot of young people unemployed they’re doing nothing, nothing they got no big name they don’t stand out, just a number really. They just want to get pointed out and get there fame another way so I’d say the message really is, to say they’re alive, that they exist, to let people know they exist” Anonymous Graffiti Artist 1980
What stood out to me about these young people being interviewed is that this was their movement, created by them and not dictated to by the establishment (more of a reaction to the establishment). Its their reaction and expression in the world. Loath graffiti or love it, you can not deny the profound message it often carries, particularly with artists such as ‘Banksy’.