Design sightings in Portugal: 5) Graffiti – art or vandalism?

April 19, 2009


Walking around Lisbon, you see plenty of witty and awesome graffiti pieces (particularly in the Alfama and Santos districts). Done well, it adds a great touch of personality to the city and looks fantastic – just look at advertisers and the art world drooling over the work of guys like Banksy

However, the debate over whether it is vandalism or art continues, with some evidence that it encourages crime (the “Broken Windows” idea) and of course the fact that much of it, like the tags scrawled in marker pen, looks awful.

The UK’s Department of Transport has some pretty in-depth research here on why and how to reduce graffiti, with case studies of graffiti on trains in New York, and around the UK and Holland. Last year, the Design Against Crime Research Centre held a seminar to better understand it. Someone even came up with a “Graffiti Report Card” to shame the bad.

Is graffiti art or vandalism? That really depends on whether only the best makes it on to the walls.

Art Building

Into the breach steps Art Building, which takes building or renovation sites and has up and coming young artists put colossal up pieces on the scaffolding.

Portugal 399

It’s nice to see property developers sponsoring this kind of art, and regardless of the merits of the projects themselves (the first is supposed to be a tapeworm), the city is far better off with than without. There are three projects so far:

Vitrine – Joana Vasconcelos
Portugal 398

War/Work – Tiago Batista
Arbuilding work war

Peek to Heaven – Lucas Mila
Artbuilding peek

I love street art, and would love to live in a city where graffiti is part of the culture, and where the good stuff get celebrated. What do you think?

Here’s some more from the streets of Lisbon.

Portugal 335

Portugal 337

Portugal 345

Portugal 366

Portugal 343

Portugal 614

Portugal 706

Portugal 531

Portugal 371

Portugal 393


2 Responses to “Design sightings in Portugal: 5) Graffiti – art or vandalism?”

  1. Steven Says:

    I definitely agree that it depends on what is on the wall, i think that there art graffiti artist, and then there are the troublemakers. The essence of graffiti started of as an artistic expression and some artist hold true to what graffiti really is, and it becomes a lifestyle. As for the troublemakers they don’t look at it in an artistic form. But this is just my opinion.

  2. Steven Says:

    oh yea BANKSY is a monster

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