The two sides of graffiti

Graffiti means different things to different people. For some, it is an appealing form of street art and provides opportunities for artistic expression. For others, it’s an ugly array of spray paint.

What many people do not realize is that both sides are technically right. Unfortunately, every time someone sprays their ‘tag name’ on private property without permission, they continue to give graffiti a bad name. Currently, 94 per cent of graffiti in Edmonton is tagging, so more people only consider tagging when the word graffiti is mentioned, despite its deep roots as an art form.

However, if street artists work with property owners, they can create a mural that can help an area feel more inviting and inspire conversation. Murals are typically off limits for taggers, which is an incentive for property owners who are constantly tagged to put up a mural. While the recent tagging of Edmonton murals are examples of disrespect in the tagging community, there are many community advocates working to ensure these remain exceptions to the rule.


Street murals take a lot of collaboration between the community, business owners, property owners and the artists who also support these murals financially. As an advocate for street art, Capital City Clean Up continually builds partnerships with artists, street artists, graffiti artists and youth organizations to support art opportunities. This year, Capital City Clean Up has collaborated with artists and property owners on 20 murals, including seven murals that involved youth. More examples are viewable on the Community Murals page.

Graffiti does not have to be a bad word. Let’s work together to create more art and less tagging.


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