Graffiti art in the 21st century
The rise and rise of Graffiti throughout the 20th century until the present day.
Graffiti is a term that was once synonymous with vandalism and the defacement of public property. Throughout the 20th century, attitudes towards graffiti began to change, and today it is now often referred to as “Urban Street Art”. But how exactly did this change occur?
Entire books have been written on that subject, two of which I purchased whilst writing this article. Leuvis Manuel Oliveros “Graffiti City: The History of Art and Vandalism on Rio’s Streets” is quite simply fascinating, although a little bit expensive in physical form.
Joe Epstein’s “London Graffiti and Street Art: Unique artwork from London’s streets” is much cheaper and focuses more on the art than the history, but is definitely recommended reading for anyone with an interest in graffiti.
Transformation: From vandalism to urban street artwork
I recently watched a YouTube video by one of the platform’s most well-known creators; this person currently operates around a dozen different channels, with subscriber counts ranging from a couple of million up to almost fifteen million on his primary outlet.
The video in question was a studio tour of what is effectively now a miniature television network. Dozens of people work for this company today, hard at work day-in, day-out – a necessity in order to meet their ambitious schedule of releasing ten brand new videos every single week.
But it wasn’t the $10,000 RED cameras that caught my eye, nor the shelves piled high with the same tech products that simply don’t exist in the supply chain right now (think RTX3080’s, or AMD 5-Series Zen3 CPU’s), it was the artwork that adorned the walls that stood out to me.
It seems that young, hip, startups no longer desire clean white walls decorating their office space. A trend is developing: Urban Street Art – formerly known as graffiti – is finally being appreciated for its unique style, and the artists who create the best examples of it such as Alec Monopoly are in high demand.
Other recent trends in graffiti art
As graffiti becomes an accepted discipline within the art world, more and more trends are appearing that take advantage of the unique look and feel of Urban Street Art. Here are a few examples:
Decorated shipping container cafes & street food stalls
It comes as no surprise to me that London is one of the first places in the world to allow its streets to be legitimately painted in this style. Pop Brixton is an entire miniature village built entirely from shipping containers. Some of the containers had been “vandalized” prior to becoming part of the village, whereas others were decorated in-situ.
Opportunistic street artwork
Banksy may well be credited with inventing this style of artwork, but as fantastic as pieces such as his “girl using bike tire as a hula-hoop” may be, other artists such as Tom Bob create their pieces entirely using existing street furniture. Using a host of three-dimensional techniques that trick your eyes using perspective,
Graffiti inspired packaging
You can purchase all kinds of products with graffiti inspired packaging nowadays, from computer hardware to a six pack of beers. Whilst I don’t see my mum and dad picking up these items, I can definitely see why this packaging would appeal to younger generations.
Car painting & wrapping
Ever fancied your car being decorated with graffiti art? This style is quickly coming into fashion, and if you’re unsure if you will like the results, you can even choose to have your car vinyl wrapped in this style too.
Graffiti style clothing
Finally, you even have big fashion houses jumping on the graffiti bandwagon now, creating t-shirts, jeans and sweaters adorned with graffiti style logos and motifs.
There are countless more examples of graffiti art trends making their way into modern culture right now, so if you are an artist with an interest in this style of work, there has never been a better time to develop your skill set.
Story by Catalin Constantin