Melbourne is well known for its laneways full of street art and graffiti, millions of tourist visit iconic places such as Hosier Lane to take pictures and fill their Instagram accounts with street art works. Even the government encourages this form of art, not only because of the tourism benefits, but also it is celebrated because it makes dull spaces beautiful. There are even programs that allow artists to paint on public places with the permission of the owner and also, children are being educated about graffiti and street art.
But, have you ever wondered what is the difference between graffiti and street art? Some people believe they are the same thing, when in fact, graffiti refers to the act of painting or writing illegally in a public place, meanwhile street art is more elaborated so, at least for the City of Melbourne municipality, it is excluded from the definition of graffiti. There are other forms of graffiti such as ‘tags’, which are calligraphic signatures, ‘pieces’ that are more elaborated tags and normally have broader frameworks, and also ‘throw-ups’ which are bubble style works with outline and fill-in colours.
Even though the city celebrates street art, recent research suggests that graffiti can have a negative impact and affect the safety perceptions and public amenity of the community. This obviously has a greater impact if the graffiti is offensive or obscene. That is the main reason why the City of Melbourne has free graffiti removal programs for public places. In places where a lot of pedestrians walk by, the presentation and amenity of such places implies the removal of unwanted graffiti which is just as important as the cleanliness and collection of rubbish.
Additionally, the timing for removal is crucial because the quicker it is done, the less likely people will re-vandal graffiti in the same spot. The presence of graffiti always encourages other offenders to make tags in the same place. That is the main reason for the City of Melbourne to remove graffiti within only one working day after it is spotted or reported in a heavily transited area.
All these actions might sound contradictory to many, but what the City of Melbourne is trying to do is to reduce the illegal graffiti by encouraging street art with the permission of the owners and increasing opportunities for legal artwork.