Graffiti artists need area for self expression

Graffiti in Victoria, Esquimalt, tagging, graffiti art

Re: Force graffiti artists to clean up (Letters, Sept. 14)

I agree with letter-writer Roel Hurkens that graffiti clean up and enforcement could improve. That said, he refers to “tagging,” which is not graffiti.

There are more than 540 legal graffiti walls around the world, with more than a dozen of those in Canada. This accepted art form is marketable. In October, a single work of graffiti sold for $65,000 in Hong Kong.

Commissioned or not, legal or not, graffiti art has become an admired aspect of the urban landscape. Large pieces have been used as backdrops for advertisements, videos and films, even the CBC’s Rick Mercer stages his weekly “rant” against an artistic graffiti background in downtown Toronto.

Also in Toronto, Const. Scott Mills took a novel approach to tackling the problem of local alleys that were plagued with garbage, tags and drug dealers.

He organized store owners and local youth to clean up and repaint the laneway – filling it with murals. Now you’re more likely to see tourists in there, snapping pictures of the urban art.

Hurkens and crime experts may need to consider redefining graffiti. I believe they are mixing it up with mindless defacing of property, which may be linked to other crimes, such as markings used as a gang signal to mark territory or to serve as an indicator for gang-related activity.

William Perry

Victoria