Why Do People Graffiti?

People know that painting or writing on walls is considered as vandalism. Walls are not the only targets of graffiti artists but any blank space that they can reach. They even reach areas that seem impossible to do graffiti on. What exactly is the thrill of graffiti that these people would risk getting caught for? The culture may give a clue why graffiti flourishes. Graffiti is simply consciously writing or drawing on a blank surface.

Unlike doodling, which is innocent when compared to graffiti, this is done usually on one’s own paper and the motive is simply to pass the time. Graffiti involves getting bragging rights for the stuff that one does. Like the ‘Kilroy was here’ graffiti, it was done to leave a tag so that the perpetrator could gain some level of fame or infamy. Some people just love leaving their mark in this fashion. It satisfies some instinct in their minds.

Graffiti is part of and has evolved as something that is closely related to hip hop. Although graffiti has been around since ancient times, the hip hop culture made it more distinct by giving it an edgier look. Graffiti also became more complex. Aside from just one dimensional graphic letter styles, recent graffiti shows more dimensions and has become more colorful. The use of spray paint has also elevated graffiti into an art form.

Why do people graffiti in areas that seem impossible to reach? Aside from aspiring to show their artistic talent, people who paint graffiti have a hierarchy of sorts. There are people whose graffiti is so good that they are called ‘kings’ of graffiti. Some graffitists try to outdo these kings by marking ‘impossible’ places such as the side of a hanging bridge, or the top of a skyscraper to prove that they have the guts and earn bragging rights and clout in that area. The quality of the work also becomes the deciding point if a person can be considered a king or not.

Graffiti is also used to mark which gang controls or rules a certain territory. The graffiti that marks the boundaries of that area are guarded by the gang members themselves and trouble happens when any of them are defaced or tampered with. This is funny since they are not really supposed to vandalize property anyway. For these gangs however, it is not a laughing matter since their gang’s pride is on the line. All of these points are needed for a person to express himself. To be recognized that you exist and to be known for something as illegal as vandalizing property, no matter how beautiful or artistic the ensuing graffiti is, makes the effort worth it for these graffitists. You would never need to ask them “why do people paint graffiti?” since the reason for it is shown in their work.


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