Tag, You’re It: How Do You Decide Between Art & Vandalism? | Hayeswire

Tag, You’re It: How Do You Decide Between Art & Vandalism?

posted by jared schwartz  //  monday mar 19, 2012, 7:30 am

A reader recently informed us that someone has been tagging and re-tagging the side of the building that faces a parking lot on the northwest corner of Gough and Grove.

Someone associated with the apartment has been painting over the taggings and can be seen doing it multiple times a week.

We weren’t able to speak with that person, but when we visited the parking lot, we found this:

wall facing parking lot

And when we turned to the right and walked a few paces, we saw the word “Red” on another wall:

Yet in the short distance between these two spaces, in an alcove that can’t even be seen from the sidewalk, we found these designs spray-painted along two adjacent walls:

Our guess is most people think the first two examples of tagging serve no purpose except to destroy property, but the third photo is a toss-up.

While it’s on a wall that surrounds the same property from Photo #1 (and we’re unsure as to whether permission was granted to do it), it feels planned, carefully created and visually appealing.

When it comes to graffiti, many of us have differing opinions on what we consider art and what we consider vandalism. With multiple forms of graffiti (anything drawn or painted on a wall in a public space) and tagging (scribing one’s name, initials or catchphrase) found throughout our neighborhood, where do we draw the line? When do we repaint and when do we keep it?


We walked around the neighborhood and paid attention to all the random graffiti and taggings we found. For example, soon as we exited the parking lot and turned right on Grove, we saw this face hidden in a small gap between apartments:

greetings on grove

When we walked up Laguna and turned left on Linden, we saw this design along the wall of Momi Toby’s:

vandalized graffiti?

Then we came across a few other designs with additions to them, including the mural on Page Street that has recently been tagged by “Leo Dime”:

“Leo Dime” also made their presence known back on Linden, just down the block from Blue Bottle:

Tagging graffiti takes this debate to another level. While the original design may or may not have been commissioned (not just above, but in any example), these taggings feel like a destruction of artwork since they ruined something that took a long time to create.


We’ve shown you a lot of examples, yet there are still plenty we didn’t capture. Do you have any favorites, or do you think everything that comes from spray paint only devalues the neighborhood? How do you decide what destroys property and what gives the neighborhood character?

via Tag, You’re It: How Do You Decide Between Art & Vandalism? | Hayeswire.


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