Let us take a look at the definition of the word “Art” according to Encyclopedia Britannica “a visual object or experience consciously created through an expression of skill or imagination“. By this definition Graffiti clearly falls under this category. It is an art of skill as with any other art form.
When mentioning the term “Graffiti”, to anyone outside of this sub culture, those who practice this form will choose the word ART to follow the term Graffiti to help differentiate between the colorful large scale constructions, and the monochromatic form of our autographs or tags. Both have their importance in the sub culture where one starts out developing their tag in hopes of morphing it to a larger more colorful spectacle and experience. However, our autographs have become entangled with and mislabeled as malicious vandalism, comparing the artistic and creative methodology of Graffiti with that of territorial boundaries often associated with Gangs. Though both have artistic merit which lies just beneath the surface, the term Graffiti, should be used to classify that in which is positive rather than that which is negative.
If we lend our eye to the definition of Fine Art taken from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, “art (as painting, sculpture, or music) concerned primarily with the creation of beautiful objects, or an activity requiring a fine skill” we can see clearly that Graffiti falls into this category as well. It becomes a struggle for acceptance and inclusion into the “Art World” when we have those who practice this art form, and those who label this art form both on different pages in terms of how to classify and define this art form.
For the artist who uses a “Graffiti” style to help convey, display, or express their messages, thoughts, or emotions, it is important for them, the general public, and for the rest of the artistic community to refer to themselves as artists, not as a means to disassociate themselves from their practices but as a means to help elevate the overall consciousness of their surroundings and their art in general. We can still use the term Graffiti, but to label an element of style rather than an element of destruction.
When artists, especially those using a graffiti style are not aware of the definitions being used to classify them, we lose that power in the long run to push our art into the forefront of the art community, and we open ourselves to the opportunity to become segregated and discriminated against by the community which we want to belong to.
Though in wanting to belong, we tend to think that it is wise to conform, and in conforming we lose the very energy we found inside of this art form known as Graffiti. We hear the term Fine Art being used to describe art that is other than Graffiti, rather than a term used to include Graffiti, and we then find ourselves in a struggle between style and servitude.
Another important subject is that of vehicle medium. The spray can, the most commonly used and the most practical vehicle to apply pigment to a surface within this art form has been long looked at as something negative and our artwork is devalued by the tool we commonly choose to complete our art. It is not merely a matter of vehicle that should be used to differentiate art, but a matter of style. Graffiti can exist in various states of medium: acrylic, oil, water, pastel, and can be applied with brush, pen, pencil, and a spray can. Again it is a matter of style rather than a choice of medium or tool used to apply the artwork. When we allow ourselves and the choices we make in terms of tools to become the starting point of negative criticism; we again allow ourselves the inopportunity to be able to reside in the same spaces as other works of art.
In closing I urge all participants, both artist, and patron, to become aware of what is actually happening, what is being created, and what is being defined. I then ask that we look at what is art, and then urge you to try and include and involve yourself into these practices, and fight for art, for art’s sake, not because of terms, definitions, mediums, tools, but because there is a necessity for all art to be given the opportunity to flourish and be given the chance to continually exist.
About the author...
International Graffiti Artist Dersk One was raised in Panorama City, CA where in the late 1980's he found an expressive outlet: Graffiti Art. He began his exploration by tagging in the alleyways near his home and from there, he gradually began to find other practitioners of the art form. While testing out several names, he finally stumbled upon one that resonated within him. From that point on he has not stopped, adopting an almost religious foundation with this art form.
From LA, to the Bay, and across the Pacific to Taipei, Dersk One has painted numerous walls, and countless other surfaces in cities such as: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Rochester N.Y., Taipei, and has been included in numerous art exhibitions.
As Dersk One continues to paint, the history of Dersk One expands. www.Derskone.com
Copyright Dersk One 09.07.2011