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Is a Graffiti Artist the same as a Street Artist?

graffiti wall art

From: Murals & Illustrations / Specific to: /

The terms “graffiti artist” and “street artist” are often used interchangeably, but they actually refer to distinct forms of artistic expression. Graffiti art and street art both involve creating art in public spaces, but the methods, materials, and intentions behind these two art forms differ significantly.

Graffiti art is typically characterized by its illegality and subversive nature. Graffiti artists often create their works without permission, using spray paint or markers to write or paint on public or private property. Graffiti art may take the form of simple tags or elaborate murals, and it may convey political messages, personal statements, or simply an aesthetic expression. Graffiti artists often work quickly and under the cover of darkness to avoid detection, as their work is often viewed as vandalism and is subject to legal consequences.

Street art, on the other hand, is typically created with permission or under the auspices of public art programs. Street artists may work on murals, sculptures, installations, or other forms of public art, and they may use a wide range of materials, including paint, stencils, wheatpaste, and stickers. Street art may be commissioned by property owners, city governments, or public art organizations, and it often seeks to engage with the surrounding community and enrich the public space in which it is created. Street art may still have a subversive or critical edge, but it is often more overtly political or socially engaged than graffiti art.

cat looking mural
Street art on a toilet block with a cat mural

There is some overlap between graffiti art and street art, as some street artists may incorporate graffiti-style lettering or other elements of graffiti art into their work. Additionally, some graffiti artists may be commissioned to create murals or other forms of public art, blurring the distinction between the two forms. However, in general, graffiti art is associated with illegal or unsanctioned artistic expression, while street art is viewed as a legitimate and valuable form of public art.

graffiti wall art
Graffiti wall art

In conclusion, the difference between graffiti artists and street artists lies in the legality, intention, and social context of their work. Graffiti art is often seen as an act of rebellion or vandalism, while street art is recognized as a legitimate form of public art that can enrich and enliven public spaces. Both forms of artistic expression have their own unique histories and aesthetic styles, and both have the potential to engage with and transform the urban landscape.

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