Expressive Art: Is Graffiti Art Or Vandalism

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 Throughout time graffiti has received both overwhelming support and intense backlash. Some view it as a form of expressive art while others consider it a complete destruction of property. However, despite the amount of differentiation, charisma and personality graffiti can bring into cities, it is a crime and should be treated as such. Overall, the negative effects seem to outweigh the positives.

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Graffiti may make a city portray that chic urban look from the outside, but in reality it does nothing but dismantle the dynamic the city and its residents. According to Dr. James Q Wilson and Dr. George Kelling, one instance of vandalism in an urban Setting has a domino effect on the area, leading to a direct increase of more vandalism and crime. When the condition of a location deteriorates from the increased damage of public property, the residents are put into physical danger. The very act of graffiti leads to increased crime, therefore reinforcing the fact that graffiti is a crime rather than a form of art. In the cases when graffiti increases the quality of life in an area, through increased interest in property there, even the original residents are neglected. Modern graffiti designs can make an impoverished neighborhood appear to be the next “hip place” to live, causing more well-off people to move in, property values to rise, and thus gentrifying the neighborhood by essentially forcing out the original residents out in the process. Graffiti either completely lowers the standard of living in the sense that crime is an every day concern, or increases it to the point of pushing out lower income families because they no longer fit the financial criteria for the neighborhood. In essence graffiti plagues the places it is created upon.

Not only does graffiti physically harm neighborhoods and the residents , but it burns a financial hole in the pockets of taxpayers. Eliminating and controlling graffiti can cost a city up to $1 million, as it did in Seattle. The amount of money going into polishing up an urban area, from graffiti because some teenager thought it would be fun to spray paint a teardrop onto the side of someone’s property, is depriving foundations who need the money more. Vandalism selfishly wastes taxpayer money and, in the lower income areas were vandalism runs rampant, that money is needed most to help the people. In the case of any home or business that gets graffitied, the owner could be fined up to $5000 if he does not clean it up. Graffiti, which is considered to be a form of self-expression for those and rough situations, only hurts all involved. This includes innocent citizens unfairly being hit with hefty fines and the wasting of taxpayer money which could be better spent elsewhere.

Some may argue that graffiti should just be left alone; but if cities stopped trying to remove it they will evolve into something beautiful. This, however, is ignoring the evidence that an increase in this kind of vandalism translates to more crime as a whole. How beautiful graffiti looks is irrelevant... after all most beautiful things have an ugly side and graffiti in no different.

In conclusion, graffiti, while pretty, only hurts what it touches. The increase of crime and gentrification of cities destroys the neighborhoods, while it costs the government, the taxpayers, business owners, and homeowners millions. The only hope for graffiti to be minimized is for it to continue to be considered as a crime and to punish those who practice in it.

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