graffiti: a brief history

  • graffiti, loosely defined, is the term used to describe images or letterings scrawled, drawn, painted or marked on any form of property
  • the earliest forms of ancient graffiti date back to hieroglyphs from Egyptians to Greeks, and has existed in many different areas of the world
  • graffiti in contemporary history first began appearing circa 1960's, as a subculture with its roots commonly traced to the subway system in New York City (other references include street art, urban graffiti, vandalism or even visual pollution)
  • what started as a competition to tag (sign with personal signature) as many subway trains as possible, quickly evolving into a complex art form with its own techniques and vocabulary
  • graffiti artists commonly refer to themselves as writers
  • since its recent burst in popularity, there has been an ongoing tension between graf writers who seek to express their art, often in public spaces, and a general social and legal condemnation of unauthorized marking of property as vandalism