I recently read an interesting masters thesis written by Alex Kataras of Saint Martin's in London. He suggests that graffiti art is a by-product of a society that grew up being flooded by advertising messages.
"Is it a coincidence that graffiti was spawned in New York, arguably the world's most advertising saturated and simultaneously most media savvy city. One can argue that graffiti is the by-product of a society inundated with advertising...I suggest that young children in New York, and teenagers in particular, having been exposed to the caliber of marketing and advertising over there, have created just that; the need to stand out in a visual landscape replete with popular culture, advertising billboards and signs of all types, regurgitated in the form of graffiti art."
The last part of his argument includes a discussion of how major art movements (Impressionism, Futurism and Pop Art) have evolved as a reflection of societal changes and its relation to the inception of graffiti art.
“…I can only come to the conclusion that graffiti art is the logical progression of art. A combination of art, popular culture and the guiding principle of advertising which is omnipresent.”
Kataras makes a very interesting argument, but it seems to be a bit of a stretch, as it appears to be almost too logical. On the other hand, maybe it is rather simple. We all know and can relate to the power of brands, so in some way it’s not that difficult to understand that some people are willing to take building their identity/'brand' (making their mark) into their own hands as a form of personal expression.
What interested me as much as Kataras’ thesis was his discussion of the parallels between graffiti and advertising. I agree with him that on a fundamental level graffiti can be seen as sort of a form of advertising and that the “tag” is essentially the individual graffiti writer’s brand (most people don't want to see either). We have seen graffiti and street art evolve as the practitioners have realized the power of iconic brands. Obey and Banksy are two perfect examples. Obey, whom is considered a sellout by many in the graffiti sub-culture, has evolved his brand to worldwide prominence and has used it to develop a cult like following which has helped him create a succesful clothing line.
Banksy who has been discussed here in the past has used the mysteriousness and conceptual nature of his brand to sell his paintings for big bucks. Below you will also find an interesting example of the graffiti writer BNE and the recognition his 'brand' has received.
Not anything profoundly new (especially to you planners), but graffiti more than ever is becoming a part of popular culture. Marketers are using it as a vehicle and/or concept to deliver their brand’s messages, as seen with this recent Timberland example.
In fact, graffiti itself seems to be a concept that is starting to stand on its own, as we can see with the success of the first ever graffiti video game, Getting Up.
Share ideas that inspire. FALLON PLANNERS (and co-conspirators) are freely invited to post trends, commentary, obscure ephemera and insightful rants regarding the experience of branding.
Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Posted by ASA at 1/03/2007 11:35:00 PM