What constitutes art? This is a question that has plagued
mankind for centuries, and will continue to do so for many more.
Yet it is an important one for the Ballarat community. There has
been much talk online, in the paper, and around the community in
relation to graffiti, particularly tagging. Many view it as
vandalism, pure and simple. No questions asked. Graffiti, however,
encompasses more than just tagging. Street art is another form of
graffiti, one that requires talent and may comment on social or
political issues. Any person can scribble their name on a wall; it
takes an artist to be able to create a piece which makes you feel
something other than anger at someone defacing private or public
Tagging decreases the city's beauty and harms its reputation.
Comparatively, street art can enhance the city's look and add to
its culture in a positive manner. Despite the difference between
the two, both are still considered illegal.
In other communities around the world, the subject of legalising
graffiti has been raised. However, if we legalise graffiti, it
would legalise all that it encompasses: tagging, street art, and
everything in between.
An alternative is to create a space where artists are allowed to
express their creativity. Placing graffiti walls around the city
which people can write, draw, or paint on will give artists and
aspiring artists somewhere to practice and put their work without
fear of repercussions. Even setting up a space where their work can
be displayed, an exhibition centre of sorts, or where they can work
with other artists to improve their skills may give theses graffiti
artists another focus for their creativity and graffiti skills.
This solution may not entirely eradicate Ballarat's graffiti
problem, no solution probably will. It can, however, decrease the
amount of vandalism seen around the city. Educating graffiti
artists on which buildings are heritage listed, private property,
and other buildings which are complete no-nos to put their art on
will make people more aware of where they can and cannot put their
We must monitor graffiti hotspots and enforce punishments for
those caught vandalising public and private property. They need to
realise that graffiti is illegal, and that their actions have
Some citizens of Ballarat also need to be educated about
graffiti artists. There are people who say that graffitists need to
stay in school or get a job. Yet it is not just youth who tag and
do graffiti art. There are many adults who also do it, many which
work as graphic designers during the day. Type-casting
graffitists will not help to solve the problem.
We need to understand graffiti artists and why they do what they
do so that we can find more and better ways to decrease the amount
of graffiti seen in the city. By working with graffiti artists, we
can find or create places where they can put their work without
angering residents and vandalising property.