Rebuttal – SortableElms

Is Graffiti Really A Bad Thing?

Street Art is a form of expression and an evolution from the graffiti that gang members would use in the late 80s. Famous graffiti artist turned street artist Banksy explains that graffiti is the natural art of expression for the kids that have been told to hold their opinions. Though not everyone is a fan of the expression or the ideas behind the pieces of art as it is technically illegal still. A typical depiction of the word graffiti is that of an old man being critical of the newer art form. One of its critics is American filmmaker, visual artist and actor David Lynch. Lynch believes that scrawled and spray painted inchoate messages on “every corner of every city” does not not help the world.

My opponent has a point with his idea of not wanting to have spray paint and the negative messages on streets but what he isn’t taking into account is the beautiful street art that has come from graffiti artists. Saying that there is only a tiny amount that is creative is foolish. There are just as many examples of graffiti that are creative, sharing a message, sharing a culture or all the mentioned before and more.

The words that are used to describe ideas behind graffiti and  the art form as a whole is that the “vast majority of graffiti is ugly, stupid and vaguely threatening.” Only acknowledging “a tiny portion of it is witty or creative.” There are many examples of the bad and down right negative expressions on walls and fences that are just tags or a list of negative curse words. I acknowledge that. Talking about the negative slides lead to have to talk about the positives.

Located in any major city there is bound to be graffiti. Unlike my opponent who believes graffiti is just tagging words and scribbles in spray paint. I can see that there is history behind graffiti. Take for example if you look up graffiti murals in Google it brings up everything from cartoon ghosts to Animal from the Muppets with explosive color background to realist portraits of some of the biggest names in music like David Bowie and Micheal Jackson and messages supporting Black Lives Matter using faces like Martin Luther King Jr and Rosa Parks.

The article talking on Lynch’s idea on graffiti leans heavily into just acknowledging the bold spray painted words. The article never mentions that it is a form of a way of getting ideas out in the world without violence and is a way to make a concrete jungle more vibrant and colorful. Even the type of illegal graffiti can rise in status and become art, a gift that is given to us by talented individuals who may have no other outlet for their creative drive. 

Lynch is admit about the idea that it is negitive and nothing good can come from Graffiti. The usage of graffiti has many positive effects, one of which is that it brings a form of art out to the public without being locked behind the paywall of museums. A problem with art in the 21st century is the notion that it’s sometimes just not seen, thanks to a lack of interest from people. The younger generations don’t go to museums and art exhibitions. They are stuck on phones and computers. Meaning they aren’t exposed to works of art. Well made graffiti helps to reassess this problem by bringing art directly to the public. Pushing it in their faces, and helps to grow an interest in artwork that will drive individuals to explore the art world further and get their ideas in the world.

It is a form of self-expression that can’t be taken away from the artist or limited by galleries. Graffiti gives people the advantage of being anonymous and the freedom to express themselves in a way that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. This freedom comes from the accessibility of graffiti, the only thing that is needed is a spray can and an idea. The artist can create what he or she wants, as opposed to having to purchase expensive supplies to get started and expensive canvas. For other graffiti artists, the advantage of the medium is that they can express an opinion or idea, such as a political point, and get it seen. If the art is seen most of the time, it can create an impact.

As mentioned above graffiti can turn a skyline of gray boxes into a rainbow of colors of various tones and ideas. Well done graffiti art is typically colorful and bold, and thus it changes the mood of the particular area where it appears. In most cases, this change is positive, since the art turns drab and monotone boxes and bare walls into interesting and eye-catching exhibitions of the imagination. Neighborhoods are brightened up without local authorities needing to engage in helping to clean up buildings since the paint covers it. 

The idea of graffiti seems negative to Lynch but in reality if a piece is done well it can bring attention to a previously unknown area. A group of high-quality graffiti contained within a particular area can raise that neighborhood’s profile significantly as an arts scene and spot in a trip that can bring thoughts to a group of people or just smiles, depending on the piece in question. Other artists will begin to travel there, and the cultural value of the area increases. This can in the long-term aid the local economy, as tourists head to the area to look at the graffiti, and locally made tours pop up to show visitors around and show off the works of art littering their streets. 

Art is often taught to children as part of their education, but not everyone likes it. The individual might not enjoy traditional forms, such as painting and sculpture, while others fail to find art relevant within their lives. When graffiti is taught as an alternative to traditional, it may inspire individuals. 


Jones, J. (2015, March 13). Graffiti is ugly, stupid and threatening – there’s more creativity in crochet. The Guardian. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from

Laboy, S. (2011, July 13). Miami graffiti artists free to leave their mark. Washington Times. Retrieved April 13, 2023, from

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