Wednesday, September 05, 2007

New Zealand to pay graff writers; Banksy crosses the pond

Having written extensively recently about graffiti, I couldn't help but notice this fascinating development from New Zealand, backed by the national railroad, to pay graffiti artists to paint murals over previously vandalized spots.

Reported The New Zealand Herald ("Taggers to be paid for graffiti," Sept. 5):

OnTrack, the government organisation in charge of the railway infastructure, supports the move.

Communications manager Kevin Ramshaw said today many OnTrack buildings are targeted by the spray-can brigade.

"We like the idea of a bright mural instead of some offensive scribble," he said.

"Besides, if a talented kid with a spray can gets a chance to lift him or herself up and achieve something that others look at as art rather than vandalism that's a good result all around."

KNZB chief executive Barry Lucinsky said graffiti spoilt New Zealand's scenery.

"It's certainly possible to tighten laws and penalties against graffiti attacks, but it's such a simple crime to commit that a better approach is needed."

He said some graffitti artists were talented.

"Why they waste their time spraying symbols illegible to the rest of us is beyond me."

That strikes me as a similar idea to at least part of the approach I've advocated recently on Grits, providing public spaces for graff artists and incentives to use them while discouraging uninvited graff through rapid cleanup.

Meanwhile, speaking of graffiti, this article from the New Yorker describes a British graff artist named Banksy whose work Sunray's Wench turned me onto a couple of weeks ago. Here's Banksy's personal web page. This guy's doing some really cool work that I think anybody in their right mind would recognize as "art," vandalism or no.

Note to Banksy: You can tag my house anytime - email for directions.


Anonymous said...

Much of Banksy's work is now on private dwellings ~ really they deserve the title of 'mural' rather than graffitti, except they are social statements which I guess is what qualifies them still as graffitti. There was a new piece by Banksy in Glastonbury a couple of months ago, about which some people complained (as far as I know, people who did not live in the town). The police made a statement on local television, saying that while they did not condone graffitti, this piece was on someone's house and the owner hadn't complained so they wouldnt be taking any action.

Perhaps that would be a sensible way for the Texan police to go? Just wait for a complaint? Graffitti is rarely 'anonymous', that's the whole point of much of it, and the artists become known.

Deb said...


Oh for a Texas version.