Graffiti is defined as the act of marking a property without permission with symbols, words or graphics. In this context, any graffiti in Melbourne is illegal and that‘s why it is strongly penalised in Australia.
Graffiti is not a simple and homogeneous problem. There are many types of graffiti and each has a different profile. The Hip Hop Graffiti originated in the United States and it is mainly composed of “tagging” and painting murals. It is identified as the most common way of graffiti. The reason is because “tagging” involves writing pseudonyms on walls, fences, and public transportation. Meanwhile, the gang-related graffiti is rare in Melbourne.
To develop prevention strategies against graffiti it is necessary to distinguish the different types of graffiti and related activities.
Not all Melbourne places will experience the same type of graffiti, there are differences between the types of graffiti that we need to understand to correctly respond to the problem; the first distinction is to distinguish graffiti and graffiti art, also called street art.
Street art is the legal version of graffiti; this is done with the consent of the property owner. This art form requires high technique and skill from the artist. It achieves a high aesthetic and justifiably is a contemporary art form.
Part of the problem is that graffiti can be seen as an art form or a criminal activity. The line between each changes constantly and sometimes is not clearly defined. A graffiti mural or done without the permission of the property owner is seen by the responsible party (and some observers) as pieces that increase and enhance public space.
Other types of graffiti serve no other purpose other than to mark and destroy public property. Some taggers argue that their work has a visual and cultural value, but others support graffiti to be removed and prosecute and punish taggers to the full extent of the law.
Although there is a clear influence of Hip Hop graffiti from the United States in Australia and specifically in Melbourne, it is important not to treat it as a global and homogeneous phenomenon. Thanks to technology and exchange of information through social networks imitation and adaptation of global trends will continue to influence the graffiti culture in Australia. What do you think?