LETTER: Graffti can be fixed by nurturing art installations

Do you know what really stops a graffiti artist from throwing up a tag: another piece of art

Re: The eye of the tagger, News (Oct. 17)

I am a local artist, and a former tag artist. I also studied graffiti in art college, and did a project course on it which included a study on the history of graffiti art, why people began doing graffiti, as well as some of the major graffiti artists (Taki 183, Stay High 149, Seen, Zephyr, Futura 2000, etc).

I feel that the police and ant-graffiti organizations in your article are going about the issue of graffiti in our community all wrong.

Treating these artists solely as criminals and what they are producing as vandalism is having the completely wrong perspective.

First, we must examine why most people begin “tagging.”

They are expressing themselves to the community in a very public manner because they feel as if they have no other outlet.

They feel that this is giving them a voice in a society that would rather they remain voiceless.

Now when it comes to graffiti that conveys hate speech, I really hope that the police and anti-graffiti organizations are not under the assumption that covering over the tag will simply sweep the problem under the rug.

Although seeing hate speech in graffiti is appalling, it unfortunately brings deep-seeded ugliness to the surface.

This allows the community to zero in on systemic problems that still linger, and also find out who is involved.

But most of the graffiti that goes on in the world does not come from a hateful or bigoted place.

It simply comes from kids with a lot of creativity who are either bored, frustrated or apathetic.

These aren’t exactly criminals that need to be stopped. They are just young kids who need better outlets.

For all of those who feel that painting over the graffiti will eventually stop it, I feel that you are not understanding the mindset of the graffiti artist.

Do you know what really stops a graffiti artist from throwing up a tag: another piece of art. Most graffiti artists have enough maturity and integrity to know not to spray over someone else’s art.

So instead of covering the tags under the Tillicum bridge or the Seaton Street underpass with countless coats of white paint, maybe consider installing some permanent art in these stale urban areas.

Why not spend some of the $100,000 annual clean up money on hiring one of the many local artists who specialize in murals and public art?

If you really want to save some tax dollars, the municipality could hire some local, young, talented artists who apparently have a lot of time on their hands  – the so-called “vandals” who are already putting their art in these areas anyway.

Give these artists the opportunity to explore their creative instincts while creating public art, instead of running them through the judicial system.

Curtis Bilson

Saanich