While critics say "It's trying to legitimise what is illegal activity," Adidas retorted that graffiti is a legitimate form of art:
The sportswear giant has commissioned graffiti artists from around the world to design a range of sneakers to be sold in Foot Locker stores.
The company said it did not endorse illegal graffiti, but wanted to provide a legal avenue for graffiti artists to display their work.
Adidas spokesman Cameron Baranski said the project encouraged young people to make a living out of graffiti art, instead of writing on walls illegally.
"There's a big difference between what Nuroc's done up there and vandalism and tagging," Mr Baranski said.
"What Nuroc has done up there is a piece of art. I challenge anyone to say it's not a legitimate piece of art."
I think Adidas is on the right track here for public policy reasons, not because I think the ad campaign will work (who knows on that score): Outlawing graffiti only contributes to the outlaw mythos that fuels it. Mainstreaming graffiti - and giving incentives to graffiti artists through payment, access to public spaces, etc. - will help control the medium.
UPDATE: Graffiti is going upscale! Here are the $175 per pair sneakers Adidas is promoting with its graffiti art, dubbed Adidas Originals. Yikes! For $175 I can buy a pair of decent, white sneakers, hire a graff artist to paint them, then take us both out to dinner on the leftover cash.
See Grits' recent series on graffiti law and policy solutions:
- Graffiti, art, vandalism and subversion
- Toward a restorative graffiti policy
- Graffiti solutions: A cost-benefit analysis
- Paint responsibly: Museum offers hands-on graffiti exhibit
- Graffiti on the brain and around the world
- Digital graffiti, or, Is there something to a wall that wants us to write on it?
- R.I.P. Victor Montano: Houston graffiti artist
- Can you be arrested for public knitting?
- Amarillo PD pressures businesses to file graffiti charges
- Out of our minds: Isn't felony graffiti overkill for sixth graders?
- Charging graffiti as a state jail felony?