Picture Frames, Picture Framing and Picture Framers' Blog

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Framing graffiti art : Controversial art or visual abomination?

Where did graffiti come from:   The word graffiti comes from the Italian nouns “graffito” and  “graffio” meaning “a little scratch”.  It has been assimilated into the English language to denote any casual writing or design marked on a wall or timber structure.  Oddly enough though, if it’s been done on a rock it’s rack it’ called a petroglyph.  There’s no great need to describe what a graffito or graffiti are.  The oldest ones seem to date back tp 2,500 years BC and,  unsurprisingly, are erotic and depict both genitalia and coitus, thus some things never change.  They are as varied as humanity is, all-encompassing, ubiquitous and immemorial.  Indeed, in a recent study, a sociologist from Michigan State University sociologist found that during one year of US news coverage, most blogs, interviews, reports and linked graffiti to antisocial activities and visual pollution. However in our .. modern context,  and even though our assessment, characterization and acceptance of them is evolving, if not changing they are, by and large, perceived as unwanted, illegal, eyesores, or visual vandalism.  Graffiti are also often associated with criminal gang culture or activities motivated not by artistic creativity but by the addictive adrenaline rush of doing something which society forbids and proscribes as illegal.  How to recognize these:   Graffiti are, by and large, anonymous, they are not recognizably signed. If the author, or dare we say, artist, does sign his or her work this is invariably by way of a tag or name known only to the brotherhood and not meant to be interpreted or deciphered by the public at large. In many, if not most, occurrences, graffiti are unusual, original,  new and colourful. A graffito’s message, if there be one, may be either positive and uplifting or negative and depressing.  Quite often the theme is rebellious, controversial, polemical or avant-garde.  Spontaneity and ease of visual interpretation are also hallmarks of most graffiti ( art) . The case for preserving them:   By nature graffiti are ephemera, not meant to be preserved since busy, public domains are often painted over and old buildings demolished, thus erasing this art expression.  One way of, if not preserving, at least conserving these visual displays is to photograph them, print them and picture frame  them before these disappear.   This has become somewhat of a vogue in larger, cosmopolitan, multicultural metropolises such as London, New York, Pairs, Berlin, or Melbourne, to name but a few.  Aiding this trend has been latter-days modern technology.  With iPhones now, high fidelity shots, even if bracketed, are possible.  Selecting and editing has also been rendered easy.  And so is inexpensive, medium to large-format printing with larger chains such as Officeworks being able to offer A0 colour prints for as little AS $11each.  Once the print has been printed it can be relatively easy to picture frame it.  We sell inexpensive, ready-made A0 poster frames or we can custom picture frame the art.  The latter option, while more expensive, I also the best, since custom picture frames  proffer sleeker, smoother and classier finishes.  Should graffiti be preserved since a great many people deem them as vandalism inflicted by vandals on society?   This is an individual call since the demarcation between art and vandalism and art has been blurred  by far too many to be now regarded as a dividing line at all.  Far too many superbly talented visual artists for all over the world such England’s Banksy,  Portugal’s Vhils, Belgium’s  Roa,  Ecuador’s  Lady Pink or Brazil’s  Eduardo Kobra have amply demonstrated their artistic talents which endow and entitle their collective output to be  rightly classified as art. And if it can be recognized, regarded and classified as art, then most obviously, it can be reproduced in media, by way of photographs, web images or prints.  Summary:   Opinions as to whether graffiti constitutes art or not is pretty much black and white . Some people see it and judge it as art, some others as visual hooliganism, with no shades of gray in between.  It’s fair  to say that the above judgements are base on the perspective of both personal, and societal values.   Nevertheless the outlook for graffiti, as a whole,  is positive, even with all the negativities it connotes.  It seems that they will be here to stay, at least in Western societies, whereas Asian societies have very different, if not diametrically opposite, outlooks.  We believe that if graffiti artists were to work and paint on approved, legitimate on or at permitted locations graffiti would blossom, prosper and positively develop. However if those some same artists persevere on spraying their art indiscriminately  at or on other people’s fences, walls and houses, they will continue doing their art a great disservice.   If artists were able to agree on and adopt a collective civility and courtesy to work only on public canvases, which society allows or approves, this attitude would go a long way towards improving society’s graffiti’s perception as a whole.


I utterly and completely disagree. Graffiti are made by hoons and vandals who get a kick from defacing and spoling other people's property. Let's see how you like going out on your Sunday morning walk and seeing your house or front fence walls luridly spray painted with obscenities. This is should be made a criminal offence and offenders prosecuted. Anything that helps, facilitates, assists or glorifies the spreading of this illegal activity should be banned. The printing and picture framing of graffiti is nonsensical and unhelpful. Graffiti is a trespass on private property which insults and offends every property owner and home owner's privacy and rights.
Cameron R. - 26 Dec 2018 08:52 am
Personally I think graffiti can be beautiful art. I went to London last year an brought back some of Banky's prints which I then got picture framed here in Melbourne. The oversize prints in their picture frames look fantastic in my home-office warehouse and clients comment how smart they look. Just my opinion, that's all.
Marcus W. - 18 Dec 2018 08:29 pm

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