One of the things you tend to see a lot of, if you spend a lot of time on your bike, is graffiti. Like much in the world that can be dubbed “creative” I split this into two categories at either end of a wide spectrum: Graffiti that sucks and graffiti that is awesome.
Like my judging of most things in this world, I judge graffiti based on a completely arbitrary criteria that I made up in my head, that I don’t really have any interest in diving into, personally; let alone trying to explain it all to you. But I will say this. It has a bit to do with intentionality.
What were you hoping to achieve, what does it mean, what do you want people to experience when they look upon it? Usually if one or more of these questions is really delved into by the creator, then I put it towards the less sucking end of the rainbow. Now I’m not saying that “art” has to mean stuff, on the contrary, I think some of the best creativey stuff ever created didn’t really mean anything at all. It was created to be visually stunning. One of my favorite quotes of all time was when Jackson Pollock was asked what one of his paintings meant, and he replied, “What does a sunset mean?”
Pollock wasn’t trying to push the boundaries of the thematic side of painting, only the visual one, but he still had a point. It was there to capture your eye, and in turn, the rest of you.
A desired effect (at least on the subconscious level).
Here is a pretty awesome piece that I saw in the UK last spring, and to me it is totally awesome. I would bet from the specificity in the execution of the mural that the creator had a desired effect in mind (again, at least subconsciously).
Here is a less than awesome piece I saw this morning at my tea stop.
If every piece of “graffiti” out there had the grace of the first one, it’s hard for me to understand why anyone would have any sort of problem with it (I’m not saying they couldn’t have a problem, I’m just saying that I probably wouldn’t agree with them). The second piece though, pretty much sucks. I mean, what is it trying to say? Is it just there to piss off old ladies? Is it really a statement, or simply creative flatulence? And I use the word “creative” very loosely there. How did the creator want me to feel? If they wanted me to feel like they even half-ass their own anger and dissatisfaction with the world and “society” they live inside, then mission accomplished. I don’t really know what they wanted. And really I don’t care that much, I just saw it this morning and wanted to make fun of it in a really pompous, self-righteous way.