17 January 2019
Graffiti is an illicit activity that entails painting, or spray painting a message or picture onto a wall of a public building. It costs businesses 1.5 billion dollars in damages and repairs each year. Some people consider graffiti to be art, but in reality it’s just plain vandalism.
If you are a small business owner and can’t afford to repair the front of your building, then you may lose customers. If the first thing a person sees when approaching your building is a rebellious drawing, then it may lead them to believe that you do not take your work seriously, or that the crime rates in the area are higher than they might be. A lack of customers often leads to the downfall of a business, sometimes, this is permanent. Losing a business is a big deal to a local economy, causing the supporters of that establishment to suffer a loss as well. Although, if a business can afford to repair their walls, they are still dropping a few hundred dollars unexpectedly. This can be a minor inconvenience to some, but a major one to others.
However, complete and utter failure is not the only outcome of the situation. Graffiti can be quite beautiful, if done right by talented artists. The problem with most graffiti is that it is being put up without consent of the proprietors, or business owners. This leads to problems previously discussed. There are many cases in which the business owners ask the artists to do it on contract and give them financial compensation in trade. These are common among urban business markets, like Seattle and Bremerton because it can be very attractive and can be done in an abundance of styles.
Artists like Banksy, who is an England based street artist, and Blu, who is based in Italy, seem to be an exception to the law. The typical reaction when you find you’ve been “vandalized” by one of these amazingly talented artists is far different from the reaction to finding any other artists. Both artists remain completely anonymous and act as artist vigilantes. Banksy likes to highlight important political topics such as immigration. His work is very highly regarded, and although he doesn’t like to sell his work, Sotheby's (one of the largest international fine art auction houses in the world), managed to auction off a piece by Banksy called” a girl with the red balloon”. The piece was sold for 1.4 million dollars, and promptly self-destructed by a shredder that Banksy had built into the frame. Experts say that that may have increased the value of the piece by almost double. Blu has a similar appeal and is an artist most known for his political murals in bologna Italy. It is questioned throughout the street art community why these two are not held to the same standard that the rest of the vandals. Is it because they have an amount of skill and style that others don’t? Is it because of favoritism? Corruption?
While Graffiti style art can be beautiful, it is still illegal. Getting busted for Graffitiing can get you a wide range of sentences, from a class B misdemeanor, all the way to a first-degree felony. But, if three or more individuals are found to have “tagged” a building, they may be accused of being a gang and given a possible sentence of up to 99 years.
Graffiti is a serious problem in urban societies and costs many business owners ridiculous amounts of money.