Street Art vs Tagging Graffiti

When I was the president of Cartoonists Northwest, I was responsible for setting up the speakers every month.  I wasn’t prepared for a bit of backlash about asking Starheadboy (Dave Bloomfield) to give a presentation.

Pup in a nest Bolted up on a post by Starheadboy

To be fair, it wasn’t a strong backlash, there were just a few people who talked about being on committees that get rid of graffiti and some subtle complaints about it.  I was surprised but I don’t think I really should have been.  I don’t like tagging either but most people don’t know what the difference is.

An example of the different types of tagging. Some do have more elaborate lettering that is beautiful.


Tagging is when people or gangs write their initials, signs or symbols on the wall to claim the area or to just try and get someone to notice.







Graffiti is the overall umbrella of tagging and the art of wheat pasting, stickers and painting in public areas.  Most artists that paint pictures, murals, wheat paste paintings, chalk paint, etc. call themselves “Street Artists” instead of graffiti artists but I’m sure that will go in a cycle too.  Not to digress too much but graffiti is ancient and has been performed in pyramids by the ancient tourists and Roman times as well.

I grew up in a gang filled area and the people I knew that did the tagging had nowhere else to turn since they were in gangs or kicked out of their home either physically or figuratively.  To me tagging is representative of a community where the people are not feeling honored, not listened to or let’s face it, abused.   When the murals, paintings and graphics come out from the street artists, they are trying to either get themselves known without elitist galleries, have fun with their friends or just spread their art as a gift.  I know some people don’t think of the art as a gift, but you don’t have to love it and it will go away soon…just like advertising and posters.

When I went to Chicago for a visit, I missed the graffiti we usually see around Seattle.  Everything looked so sterile.  I’m not sure what is different from slick advertisements and artists expressing themselves on the backs of signs.  My guess is we’re just so used to seeing advertisements.  Even the advertisements that try and look like graffiti are in a neat rectangle so your mind can ignore it. 

So maybe that’s the secret…just make everything in a neat rectangle so we can decide to look at it or not…just like at the museums?  😀 Just wondering out loud.



PS  Not condoning doing any damage to homes or businesses.  Most artists are respectful and besides, the next mural could be a Banksy on your ugly wall!–worth-millions.html

Also, the presentation by Starheadboy went over unbelievably well.  95% of the people who went adored him which included the original people who weren’t that excited.