What is the Difference Between Graffiti and Street Art

The main difference between graffiti and street art is that graffiti typically includes letters and words, whereas street art includes images.

Graffiti and street art are art we can see in public places like outside walls of buildings and walkways. They are free to view. Artists often use their work as a form of political and social commentary and activism. Despite these similarities, there are some differences between graffiti and street art.

Key Areas Covered

1. What is Graffiti  
   – Definition, Features
2. What is Street Art
     – Definition, Features 
3. Difference Between Graffiti and Street Art
    – Comparison of Key Differences

Key Terms

Art, Artists, Graffiti, Street Art

Difference Between Graffiti and Street Art - Comparison Summary

What is Graffiti

Graffiti is writing, or drawings scratched, scribbled, or sprayed illegally on a wall or other surface in a public place. Since it involves an unauthorized marking of public space, it’s considered a form of vandalism. Some consider graffiti as anti-social behavior as a form of thrill-seeking or to gain attention. Graffiti often involves spray painting. It typically represents rebellion and is the visual language of the unheard. People also associated graffiti with hip-hop culture. It started in urban America during the mid 20th century. Philadelphia and New York were the centers of this art form.

Compare Graffiti and Street Art - What's the difference?

The common perception of graffiti is that it’s spray painting on public walls by members of street gangs. This is because gang members sometimes use graffiti as a form of marking their territory. But in the modern world, people are gradually starting to recognize graffiti as a form of art. However, it is still not universally accepted as art.

What is Street Art

Street art is visual art created in public places, such as sidewalks, exterior walls of buildings, and highway overpasses. We can usually observe street art in urban areas. Street art can involve different media, including spray painting, mosaic tiling, stencil art, LED art, sticker art, wheatpasting, woodblocking, yarn bombing, Lock On sculptures, and rock balancing. Berlin wall in Germany, Batman’s Alley and  Morro da Providencia in Brazil, streets of New York city, and West Bank wall of Palestine are some popular places for street art.

Graffiti vs Street Art

Although street art has its origin in graffiti, it is different from graffiti in terms of its perception. Artists generally create street art to convey a message to the public. These messages are often political ideas or social commentaries that raise the awareness of the public. Some street artists have even gained international fame and have moved into mainstream art. Unlike graffiti, street artists may create art with permission (from the owners of the building) and even through commissions.

Difference Between Graffiti and Street Art

Definition

Graffiti is writing, or drawings scratched, scribbled, or sprayed illegally on a wall or other surface in a public place, while street art is visual art created in public places.

Permission

Graffiti is usually created without permission and is seen as a form of vandalism, but street art may be created with permission or on commission as well.

Media

Graffiti mainly uses spray painting, while street art involves a variety of media like spray painting, mosaic tiling, stencil art, LED art, sticker art, and yarn bombing.

Visual Content

While graffiti is letter-based, street art is image-based. In other words, graffiti tends to have some letterings, while street arts have a wider range of visuals and are often similar to traditional murals.

Public Perception

Some people associate graffiti with gangs, vandalism, and violence, so graffiti tends to have a negative image among people, whereas street art has a more positive perception than graffiti.

Conclusion

In brief, the main difference between graffiti and street art is their content and public perception. Graffiti typically includes letters and words, whereas street art includes images. Moreover, people tend to have a negative perception of graffiti as they associate it with gangs, vandalism, and violence, but street art has a more positive perception than graffiti.

Reference:

1. “Street Art | Definition, History.” Study.com.
2. “Graffiti Art: What Is Graffiti?” Eden Gallery.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Graffiti Terror 0002(CC BY-SA 2.5) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Chelsea Street Art” By GabbyT231 – Own work (CC BY-SA 4.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Hasa

Hasa has a BA degree in English, French and Translation studies. She is currently reading for a Masters degree in English. Her areas of interests include literature, language, linguistics and also food.

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