STREET art. Check out this article from csdt.rpi.edu and discover more about the history behind graffiti.
Graffiti history. Graffiti has a long and proud history. The subculture surrounding graffiti has existed for several decades, and it’s still going strong. The graffiti artists (or “writers” as they prefer to call themselves) are passionate, skilled, community-oriented, and socially conscious in ways that profoundly contradict the way they’ve been portrayed as common criminals and vandals.
Birth and evolution. Graffiti, if we define it as any type of writing on the wall goes back to ancient Rome, and if drawn images count, then we could point to the first “graf artists.”
But the style of urban graffiti that most people have seen and know about—the kind that uses spray cans—came from New York City in the late 1960s, and was born on the subway trains.
A certain “Taki 183,” who lived on 183rd street in Washington Heights, worked as a messenger who traveled all throughout the city. While he did so, he would use a marker and write his name wherever he went, at subway stations and also the insides and outsides of subway cars. Eventually, he became known all throughout the city as this mysterious figure. In 1971, the New York Times interviewed him for an article. Kids all over New York, realizing the fame and notoriety that could be gained from “tagging” their names on subway cars (that traveled all over the city, naturally) began to emulate Taki 183. The goal was to “get up” (using the slang of the day); to have one’s name in as many places as possible, and as kids competed against each other to get famous, the amount of graffiti on trains exploded.
Contemporary graffiti. With heightened security in the 1980s, subway graffiti slowly died out. In 1989, the last train with significant amounts of graffiti on it was taken off the lines, ending an era. Traveling on the subways in 2003, there is virtually no graffiti to be seen on the outside of trains, and only dim scratching here and there on the insides. But graffiti lives on, on city walls and other more unlikely places.
Recently, there has been a trend towards writing graffiti on freight trains.
Nowadays, artists are “getting up” not just in their own city, but also across the country, furthering the transmission and mixing of different graffiti styles from all over. Graffiti has also become a way to make money.
Graffiti art has been featured in exclusive galleries and has exerted its influence on the world of graphic design. Nowadays, it is not uncommon to see graffiti-style or graffiti-inspired art on t-shirts, posters, and CD covers.