Street has been around since the start of human civilization and can be found around the world. It’s common in urban areas including city centres and suburbs, whether it be on pavements, streets, parks, or on the sides of buildings.
But what exactly is street art, and what is the purpose behind street art? That’s what we’ll be exploring in this blog.
In this blog, we’ll be delving into the world of street art – so read on to learn more about street art, some of the reasons people create graffiti and urban art and why people enjoy it.
A Brief Background on Street Art
Street art is an art form that encompasses murals, graffiti and urban art – the term ‘street art’ covers all artwork created on the streets or displayed on the streets and other urban areas. Urban art can be found on the sides of disused buildings, bus stops, parks, pavements – pretty much all outdoor spaces.
It doesn’t always refer to paintings – street art can include drawings, poster art, and other forms of visual art.
Street art has a long and extensive history – it has been around for as long as streets have. There is evidence of street art in ancient cities including Ancient Rome and Ancient Greece, some of which can still be viewed today.
The street art world evolved hugely following the invention of the spray paint can in 1949, with street art appearing in public spaces around the world.
The spray can made it much easier for graffiti artists and street artists to create artwork in outdoor spaces, and graffiti artists were able to produce much larger pieces of public art.
The modern street art scene involves the use of various tools to create artwork – modern street art is much more advanced than it once was. Many street artists use the stencilling technique – they create stencils using plastic, cardboard or paper and spray over it.
This can help artists create text-based designs and images that can then be quickly and easily reproduced in other locations. Stencil graffiti art is created by many popular street artists, including Banksy.
Murals are a form of street art – murals are large-scale artworks that typically span across entire walls or buildings.
Mural art is different from graffiti art as usually, mural artists have permission to create the artwork – whereas graffiti artists don’t typically have permission to create graffiti. Street murals, graffiti and street art are all urban art forms.
What is The Purpose of Street Art?
There are many reasons people create street art and even more reasons why people enjoy viewing street art.
Although street art isn’t for everybody, and some people may see street art, murals and graffiti as vandalism instead of the art it is, many people enjoy the benefits of street art. Read on for some reasons people enjoy street art.
Street Art Looks Improve An Area
First and foremost, street art can improve the overall appearance of an area. A space that was once run down or uninteresting can quickly become a colourful, bright space through street art.
Viewing art can improve your mood – walking through a city street can be a much more pleasant experience when there is a beautiful street art drawing or mural to look at. Ultimately, it can enhance the lives of locals, and even become a tourist attraction.
Take Brick Lane and Shoreditch, for example. These areas in London have become synonymous with street art, and people travel from all over the country to view iconic murals and street art pieces.
Likewise, Camden in London is also a street art hotspot, full of iconic street art by prominent UK-based street artists. Street art can bring tourists to previously disused areas, which can, in turn, help local businesses thrive.
Street Art Can Send a Message
Art is a form of expression – a way to express yourself. For many, street art is the only way that people can express themselves and share their emotions and beliefs with others.
Throughout history, contemporary art has been used to spread an idea or raise awareness for political or social issues. This hasn’t changed – street art today often has political themes and many street artists will share their opinions through the medium of street art. Guerrilla art can open people’s minds.
Prominent New York street artist Keith Haring painted murals across New York City to spread awareness of issues such as safe sex, gay rights and drugs. Street artist Banksy is one of the world’s most famous artists around today, and his work often touches on political and societal issues – for example, consumerism, imperialism, capitalism, gun violence and many more.
Street Art Can Be An Artist’s Legacy
Many street artists create graffiti artwork to leave something behind – it’s important for many to leave a legacy, something that will live on once they are no longer here. Likewise, many street artists produce street art so their name lives on in art history.
The idea of death is scary for most of us – but knowing that something you created will remain can help to ease your fear. Street art and murals remain today created by artists that are no longer around. For example, street artist Stony’s artwork was important to him, and his art is his legacy. Despite passing away in 2022, his art remains.
Some street artists will compete with others to paint or ‘tag’ in difficult-to-reach places such as at the top of tall buildings or on the top of bridges. The act of creating graffiti in dangerous spaces is known as ‘heaven spot tagging’.
This is thrilling to many, as viewers will be left wondering how the art got there. Likewise, many street artists will aim to graffiti in difficult non-accessible as it is also more difficult for the artwork to be removed.