The United States denounces graffiti as a criminal act and prosecutes graffiti artists as such. The law marks graffiti as a display of defacement or vandalism of an owner’s property. Regardless of the creativity behind graffiti, in the eyes of the law, there is never a circumstance where graffiti becomes an art form that is celebrated or connotated as art.
Many people make the argument, however, that graffiti is art, created as a means of translating a message or adding meaning to one’s surroundings. Melbourne, Australia for example is famed as the “street art capital” of the country. Melbourne markets their graffiti just as Sydney, Australia does the opera house; therefore, creating a positive and attractive tourist location that rivals with historical landmarks. In Melbourne, tourists flock to the inner city where the graffiti changes almost daily. Art is created and recreated without restraint. The (mostly) unchecked growth of graffiti or ‘street art’ is due, in part, to Australia being in a state of competition between cities. In the plight of attracting tourists to an edgy and vibrant city, Melbourne markets street art as the beating heart of the city. Though tagging remains illegal, the creation of art is widely excepted and supported by the city.
The Melbourne City Council website regards “Melbourne’s street art has become internationally renowned and has become an attraction for local and overseas visitors experiencing Melbourne’s creative ambience.” It also recognizes the implication street art has on the cultural aesthetic of Melbourne. Though economic value is difficult to measure, the creative tourism has its advantages as the increasing desire to seek out “authentic public spaces” as well as creative landscapes and authentic cultural experiences.
The value of street art, as an art form, is an angle ill explored by American government system. As demonstrated by the city of Melbourne, graffiti can be viewed and sought after as more than a blemish on something pristine. The negative connotation carried by graffiti inhibits the creativity and potential of aspiring creation and limits the value of a city to the same mode of expressionism it has always carried.