The difference between Street Art and GraffitiOctober 3, 2012 About my museum job, Adult events at our Museums, Blogs, Community, Late:Create
So this month, the Continue Creating massive went down to Spitalfields farm to learn a little bit about street art, from some people who know.
Our workshop leaders know a thing or two about the history and practice of street art. Gary and Josh are street artists themselves. They run tours of street art in and around East London, which I am reliably told by my friend and teammate Jen, are ace. http://www.alternativeldn.co.uk/ Sadly we don’t have any pics of Gary and Josh but take it from me, they were thoroughly nice chaps.
The workshop started off with some history. We learnt about the fact that Street Art usually carries a political message, and was born out of artists’ desire to say things about the spaces they inhabited. Artists also often wanted to express something about the people and forces that governed those spaces, or tried to. Josh told us that a lot of street artists now seek permission for the work they do (e.g. from the local council) and are also often commissioned to do pieces in public areas by private or public bodies. We asked how much ‘take home’ work by street artists costs and discovered that Banksy’s most expensive piece sold for $US 1.87 million. Perhaps more interestingly though, some work that you can see on the streets of East London, is made by artists who can command up to £10,000 a piece.
We were also told about the fundamental differences between Street Art and graffiti. Josh told us that Street Art is a recognised art form, in which layering, change and evolution is fundamental. The work is deliberately and proudly transitory with artists responding to, and adding to, the visual noise in any given area. He spoke about the fact that where he works depends on what is already there and that sometimes he doesn’t want to be the first person to infringe on, or paint over, a work by someone he really respects. The issue of respect, he explained, is fundamental to the difference between Street Art and graffiti. Graffiti can be simply a way of tagging when you’ve been somewhere, either to mark territory or simply for the sake of it. Graffiti can consist of one word sprawled across any public area or private property using spray paint or marker pen and some graffiti artists will tag anywhere, giving no thought to what was previously there or the purpose of what they are doing. This is the point of view of a street artist. If you’re a graffiti artist out there with a different view, please get in touch, I’d love to hear what you have to say.
So once we’d learnt our history it was time to get down to business. Everyone worked on their design on paper before hitting the spray cans. Most people created stencils on card with a blade, which was attached to our bit of the assigned wall and sprayed over. We were told that this model of street art developed because it allows the artist to spend a lot of time on the concept and not very long on the execution. So if you wanted to make a statement in a place that you weren’t supposed to you could get it done and get away quickly…
Not only did the rain hold off (a near miracle) but some interesting noise was added to the wall. We’re looking forward to our Street Art spotting tour of East London in the future…