Too Legit to Quit: Street Art vs. Graffiti

You’ll find it on windows; you’ll find it on walls; you’ll find it in bathroom stalls. Like any country, Australia is not without its vandals, many of whom leave their mark in the form of graffiti. Despite the efforts of the Councils and the Queensland Police Service, vandals still run rampant in the Brisbane area, with an alleged 1.8 million dollars spent in 2012 on graffiti removal, an expensive and time-consuming task.

Of course the Brisbane Council isn’t just losing money and time, it’s also losing culture. I spoke to Brisbane-based street artist Blu Art Xinja on the matter, and he had this to say:

“I started doing my street art because I believed Brisbane needed a bit of a culture boost. I have since met a lot of amazing artists with the same idea, but Brisbane Council is still a bit sterile in that regard.”

Blu Art Xinja strikes a pose.

Blu Art Xinja strikes a pose.

“I definitely consider my work ‘art’ and not ‘graffiti’. I want people to love what they see. If it gets taken down (and it has) I’d like to think that it was someone’s job and not because they hated it.”

Artist Dion Parker, who recently contributed to a street art project on the Gold Coast, largely agrees with Blu Art Xinja’s sentiments.

“I’m a big fan of street art myself but I can see why some people are offended by it. I don’t think it will ever be totally accepted as a legitimate art form. I think some people will always see it as vandalism, no matter how beautiful it is.”

The project Dion contributed to can be seen near Australia Fair, Southport. The project consists of a series of murals painted by local artists using various techniques, not the least of which was the trusty spraypaint. The project was done as part of St. George Bank’s “Start Something” campaign, with the ultimate goal being to help raise awareness of local artists by displaying their work in public.

“The urban art project was great fun and I was stoked to be a part of it. It was my first mural and first time using cans. I really enjoyed it.”

Dion Parker also writes and illustrates a comic called Jhonny Stroke.

Dion Parker also writes and illustrates a comic called Jhonny Stroke.

While the project has since been handed over to non-local artists for completion, the urban art project definitely indicates that the legitimisation of street art is starting to take hold on the Gold Coast, coinciding with the incredible overhauls the city has seen in preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games. Even Councillor Dawn Crichlow has given the urban art project a nod of approval, believing the murals will do much to impress tourists going past on the soon-to-be-opened light rail. With luck, the Gold Coast’s newfound positive reception for street art will outlast the Commonwealth Games and evolve to become a notable feature of its citizens.


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