Graffiti: Picturesque or grotesque?

Should London adopt a zero-tolerance policy to graffiti? This question is one that sparks a lot of controversy and debating as there is a fine line between street art and graffiti; the former is defined as criminal, whilst the latter demands true acknowledgement into the art world.
Graffiti that promotes or depicts sexual, violent, or derogative images needs to be abolished; such work is simply insulting- not only to passers by- but to the street artists whose work truly is artistic and should not be tagged (no pun intended) with the unbefitting title of ‘graffiti.’

Graffiti has made significant contributions to society, at times it has been used to commemorate the deceased, and in the past it has proved to be a great source of historical information. The graffiti from the early 13th century has enabled us to understand how literate the Romans and Greeks were.

The works of Banksy, A N Onymous, and Ben Eine- popular street artists- are highly sought after, and by injecting the streets with vibrancy and colour, their graffito revive boring buildings and areas, provide inspiration, and act as great tourist attractions.


Whilst graffiti is unattractive, true street art is beautiful, and the ugliness ‘lies in the eyes of the beholder’, thus our perceptions may cloud our judgement. I feel the real issue here is: ‘Why are graffitists given similar custodial sentences to burglars, rapists and such like?’ Are these street artists anything like those nasty people who will think nothing of leaving your blood to run cold on the pavement, after they have robbed you for the last pennies in your purse or wallet? No, of course not. So, why then, do we dole out unjust sentences to these people? Surely x amount of hours community service spent cleaning walls should be adequate penance enough.
We need to address the hidden problem here- the criminal justice system- and question why it seems to over-punish those who commit trivial crimes and under-punish those who commit greater ones?

Picture Credits: businessinsider.com (Banksy) and bbc.co.uk (Billy Cox Mural).

* Louise Mensah is a beauty and lifestyle blogger. Mensah was shortlisted and commended in the BME Young Columnist of the Year competition