Is street art illegal? You may think I'm crazy for asking. But, if you've been to NYC lately, you'll see, there's a lot of artwork on the streets. Are these artists disrespecting the law?
Definition of Street Art
Street art is a very broad term that describes visual art created in public locations, usually unsanctioned artwork executed outside of the context of traditional art venues. The term gained popularity during the graffiti art boom of the early 1980s and continues to be applied to subsequent incarnations. Stencil graffiti, sticker art, wheatpasting and street poster art are also forms of street art. Video projection, yarn bombing and Lock On sculpture became popularized at the turn of the 21st century. The terms "urban" and "guerrilla" have been added to these terms as many artists participate in site-specific performances with modified versions or collections of previously exhibited artwork.
The difference between graffiti art and street art
Graffiti and street art may share some similar forms and techniques, but they are not the same. In fact, many of the most famous graffiti artists don't consider street art to be art at all. Street artists can learn a lot from graffiti artists, though. For instance how to create work that is technically simple but has a powerful impact on your viewer's emotions. You'll need to get over your fear of getting caught because while real graffiti is illegal, it doesn't involve any sort of planning or permission-seeking. Graffiti is also very immediate; you don't have time to think about what you're doing before it's done. This can be daunting for people who prefer more traditional methods of artistic expression like painting or sculpting where there are plenty of opportunities for revisions if necessary.
Street art as a tool for social change
There are two primary ways in which street art can be used to drive social change. The first of these consists of making public the things that society wishes to keep hidden, such as poverty or crime, and forcing them onto the public agenda. This is known as protest art.
The second way in which street art can help drive social change is by redefining how we think about spaces—both physical and social spaces—as well as our relationship to them. This type of street art is often referred to as gentrification art because it has been widely adopted by urban planning committees who wish to redefine rundown areas for new audiences.
Overcoming the stigma of street art
Overcoming the stigma of street art is a step in the right direction when it comes to taking down barriers for artists who may not be able to afford professional studio spaces. Street art is often political and illegal, which makes it difficult to break into mainstream galleries, since they are usually funded by rich people. In addition, local governments don't want street artists getting paid off their work because their purpose is to beautify the city without any monetary compensation. Banksy's success story illustrates how street arts can be elevated above mundane objects once they are recognized as valid forms of expression on par with other art genres such as painting or sculpture.
You can use street art as a tool for social change.
You can also use street art to raise awareness of social issues. Street artists across the globe have taken to the streets for a myriad of reasons, ranging from injustice in the criminal justice system or an effort to raise awareness about political reform, to drawing attention to climate change and health care reform. And it’s not just a trend among artists—corporate brands often turn to street art as a tool for social change as well. For example, Coca-Cola used street art in Jakarta, Indonesia, during Ramadan, in efforts to bring attention to clean water shortages and raise money for clean drinking water initiatives.