Graffiti for me is not necessarily what you are doing but how your doing it. I think that it's a combination of defiance and expression and is more than just doing one or a few acts of vandalism. It's a way of life that is a constant rejection of what society and institutions have created and trying to create a place for yourself. It's also a serious attempt at trying to express your discomfort in public space.
Most graffiti artists feel like they aren't being noticed in the world and so they feel like they need to make themselves visible by claiming public space. Other people do it because they love the creative aspect of creating images and focus more on the artistic aspect of it and not the brutal vandalism. Everyone who does graffiti is definitely screwed up in the head in one way or another, some people are just more screwed up then others.
This is where street art comes in. Street art is a very consumer friendly/ people friendly way of selling vandalism. It's a way for people to make light of a crime and to celebrate it. It's also a way for people to market the hell out of themselves without actually doing much.
Street art has become a trend world wide and much of the core principles of graffiti have been diluted and lost because of this phenomenon. The macho-ness of graffiti is what made it such a feared sub culture and now with the rise of street art, it's become accessible to even the wimpyist of wimps.
I like many aspects of the core principles of graff while also loving how it's evolved and changed into an amazingly diverse group of people. I've seen the scene change here in Montreal so much that I'm curious to see where we will be in the next year. Hopefully we wont have any Mr. Brainwashes on our hands but it seems like an inevitable fate given how hype and internet fame plays more of a role now then street cred.
To show you a bit of this sub culture that I both love and hate, I've posted a bunch of videos showing the diversity and intenseness of graffiti culture.
Beef is a huge part graffiti and I find it mind blowing that it was interesting enough to the BBC for them to make a whole episode on it between two of England's most well known figures in graffiti.
Transit painting is where graffiti originated and over the years, transit systems have become better with security and quick at cleaning the lines. Now, instead of seeing the trains pull into a station covered in names and colours, movies are made to document the process and what ever short existence the painted car has. The sub culture is still very much alive and well if you look on youtube.
This is one of my favorite US graffiti documentaries covering some of the biggest names in the scene and a lot of the politics associated to graffiti. NOT STREET ART.
Kidult, what do I say about him? Ummm, nothing. Watch the video.
I found this video of CENO and all I can say is wooooooooooooooooww this guy loves vandalism.
Exit through the gift shop is about Banksy but is also about how street art has become a widely overrated/ over-hyped culture. A must watch to become a bit more savy about the art world and to stay on the look out for fakes.
David Choe is great because he's one of the most well known graffiti artists in the world who doesn't have a graffiti name. He is not afraid to admit he vandlizes and enjoys the art aspect of the scene as much as the mindless vandalism side of things. Here he is in the early years.
Crack and Shine is a great series documenting some of the most well known names in graffiti in the world. I love this episode about the scene in Paris because all the writers in the scene have some of the weirdest and most unconventional styles. They just love going out there and being different and love the energy of vandalism.
Horphé is by far one of my favorite writers these days.