Spraypaint and free speech.

borough high street
Originally uploaded by embleton.

I was over at Christian’s blog thinklab and read his post about a group of designers and other interested parties arguing that graffiti is free speech. Most of this is from a comment I made at his blog but… I’ve added a bit and will be adding a photolink soon. The law in New York bans anyone under the age of 21 from buying spray paint or wide tipped markers.

I have to weigh in on this having been a design student in NYC. The legal age to use spraypaint or markers is — 21? So, how old are first years when they head off to art school, architecture school, design school, college? 19? So that means you can’t go to the art supply store buy some oaktag and sharpies and do posters? Can’t spray paint that chair you picked up on Canal Street when you were walking home?

I remember them locking everything up at Pearl Paint it was stupid then and now.

I hate graffiti that isn’t more than someone marking their territory like a dog. But I think that graffiti is free speech, its art, and art continues to frighten some people. Usually because it speaks a truth that is unconvenient or uncomfortable.
We need a more creative solution.

Just think about 7eleven locking up cigarettes like NYC locks up spray paint. That would be something.

Now it’s got me on a rampage. For the next week I’m going to photograph graffiti… maybe I’ll ask some of my compadres at Flickr to help me out. Keep a lookout for my post of a gallery. Then you can think about it too.