Some people argue graffiti is an art form. Others say it’s vandalism. I say it’s both.
Graffiti can be extremely well done, true works of art that took hours of patience and precision. I’ve seen it on the side of trains, as murals on the sides of buildings, and on the walls of underpasses. Most of the places this art is posted is illegal. I’m not here to debate that. Some cities have tagging walls– places where graffiti artists can paint legally, no worries about getting caught. Other murals I’ve seen have clearly been done by a youth with talent on the wall of a business that hired them to do so, or at least gave them permission. Train cars, well that’s a different story. All I’m saying is that an incredible amount to time, talent, and effort go into some of the graffiti pieces out there. I remember walking through the industrial section of Halifax along the Trans Canada Trail last year and being really impressed by some of the work that had been done there. Although I can’t post any of them right now, I’ll try to do so in the next couple of days.
What I don’t see as art, and find downright annoying, are gang tags. These don’t even pretend to be art. It’s like a dog marking it’s territory. I’ve noticed more and more tags going up around my neighbourhood recently, on the back of signs posting the speed limit, below the people on the sign marking a crosswalk, on electrical bins, fences, and light posts. It’s beginning to irk me to the point that I’ve decided to start up a graffiti removal effort in my neighbourhood. Part of the way we keep our neighbourhoods clean and safe are by keeping trash like this out. If the neighbourhood won’t stand for it, it will be wiped out. Don’t believe me? In New York a few years back–okay, most likely a decade or more by now, crime was on the rise to the point that people didn’t want to ride the subway. What did they do to tackle it? They started by clearing the subway of graffiti every night. Eventually the grafitti stopped, as it wasn’t being tolerated. There’s no point in tagging if no one is going to see it. New York started with the little things, and you know what happened? The crime rate dropped, and the city began to clean itself up. It’s like people stood up and said, “No, I’m worth more than this. Not in my backyard you don’t.”
Thankfully, my city has a Wipe Out Graffiti Campaign, and not-for-profit groups can raise money by helping remove the graffiti. General members of the community can also take pictures of the graffiti and apply to the city to have a graffiti removal kit so that they can clean up their neighbourhoods. This week is pretty much shot for me, but I’m thinking that if I can, I’ll do some removal Saturday afternoon, assuming I can get a kit by then. If not, well, there’s always next week. If grafitti in your area is getting bad, check with your city to see if they have a graffiti removal program. If not, canvas for one to be created. See if you can find local businesses who might sponsor and effort. Talk with individuals. Make it known in your neighbourhood that graffiti won’t be tolerated unless it’s an approved art piece. Take pride in your neighbourhood. Nix the graffiti.