Street art is interesting, creative and unrestricted. It’s an incredibly diverse and varied art movement, one that is growing in popularity as work being exhibited in the streets continues to develop in terms of size, style, and sheer skill.
Still, some people (normally Mr Average Joe) do not understand what street art is; their head fills with images of vandalised bus stops, tagged alleyways and ‘yoofs’ with spray cans on the side of train tracks.
Now, graffiti tagging being ‘ugly, bubbly letters’ is a whole other topic, so let’s not get into that right now as I, and all of us GK fam, can give a whole load of reasons for why this is just so not true. Tagging is an art in itself; it’s not just ugly letters sprayed on walls.
So, Mr Average Joe, if you’re reading this, that’s so not what street art is.
Graffiti and street art share a colourful and complex history. Art on walls started with cavemen (for… well, nobody is quite sure why), and nowadays is created for a huge variety of different reasons. For fun, for art, to make political statements… or for no reason except the urge to be a vandal.
Have you heard of Neolithic cave paintings? Or Kilroy, who popped up in and WW2? What about Blek Le Rat and Keith Haring? If you haven’t, then you need to!
Street art is diverse from every way you look at it. There’s so many types of street art, from paste-ups to murals; stencils to tags… and so, so many more.
There are street artists in nearly every country in the world who are influenced and inspired by a multitude of cultures and styles, resulting in a wide and expansive body of urban art that can be found all over the world. New pieces pop up by the second… as other pieces get removed or erased. You could never keep up with the changes!
Not only that but there really are no limits on what an artist can put in the street. Sometimes it may require a little law-breakage, vandalism or trespassing, but that’s how it goes (and that doesn’t mean all of them break the law, as a lot of work is legal or commissioned).
Art is about expression, creativity, freedom, asking and raising questions, protesting, analysing… for the creative type to get things out of their system.
For the underdog to take a stand. For artists to step beyond convention…. and street, urban art and graffiti is the best proof of this.
You don’t even need to be considered a ‘legitimate’ artist; don’t need to have thousands of fans, have a huge social media presence, be taken seriously by galleries or be picked up by an artist agency.
You can just put your work in the street as and when you wish.
(And you don’t even have to see people’s reactions to your work if you don’t want to!)
There’s freedom with putting work in the street (the same freedom that comes with people stealing and ruining work in the street… but that comes with the territory).