The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

The Student News Site of Marshfield High School

The Marshfield Times

Writing on the wall

To some it is art. To others, it is destruction of property.
Graffiti, also known as writing, tagging, graf and street art, is typically a form of expression which uses spray paint or other non-traditional paint to create large sized pieces of art or “tags” in urban areas.

According to local graffiti artist *Salt, normally this is done on buildings, fences and other property walls due to its origin.

“It began to get popular in the subways of New York City in the 1970s and 80s,” Salt said. “It birthed the hip hop culture and spread outwards.”

Salt said graffiti has been popularized globally, prominently in the European Union, due to the lenience on legislation policies compared to other nations, including the United States.

According to Salt, he/she began to get interested in graf art about a year ago after becoming closer with he/she friend known as *Naked. Since then, he/she said he/she has learned a significant amount about the culture on a national level.

“There are people obsessed with it, making everything flawless. Then you have the style in the [Pacific] Northwest where quality and quantity are both valued, so there’s more everywhere. Then there are the dudes who just like it to be ugly,” Salt said. “That’s the cool thing about it. You can just make it whatever you want.”

Another local artist, known as *Fake, said he/she was introduced to it by Salt about six months ago, and he/she likes being a graffiti artist because of the social aspect.

“I like it because when I meet other people who do it too, it’s like being part of a secret group,” Fake said.

Salt said he/she believes the difference between Coos Bay’s graffiti culture and other areas is the condensed variation of the commitment and reasoning for being a part of it.

“The style here is unique, and it even changes depending on who you talk to,” Salt said. “Some people take it really seriously, and if you mess with their stuff they will get really angry. Then you have people like me, Naked and Goof, who just do it for fun.”

According to Steve Myers, a Police Officer for the City of Coos Bay, people do graffiti for a number of reasons depending on the form they are doing.  If someone is tagging, it’s likely to mark territory, but if they are creating large pieces, they are trying to express a message.

Any urban area has spots which are more likely to see instances of this crime. According to Myers, in the Bay Area, downtown Coos Bay and Empire are most likely to be hit.

The number of crime reports relating to graffiti often come in large bundles or not at all.

“Typically, when we have graffiti, it goes in cycles,” Myers said. “Sometimes we might get 20-30 reports in a two-day period. Sometimes we don’t get them for months at a time.”

According to Myers, in order for the community to decrease the instances of crime in the area, it has to include citizen involvement.

“At any one time we usually only have three officers on duty so it’s by chance if we catch someone spraying graffiti on a business or someone’s property,” Myers said. “So, if you’re going to significantly prevent graffiti it takes the citizens calling in if they see suspicious activity or if they see people committing the act of graffiti on someone’s property to call the police immediately.”

Myers said the majority of crimes are not reported, but the punishment for being caught depends upon the amount of damage done.

“Graffiti does not tend to cause structural damage, more of where people have to go in and paint over it, so typically the cost is not too significant,” Myers said. “If it reaches over a thousand dollars we are looking at criminal mischief one, whereas under a thousand it is criminal mischief two.”

While most home and business owners see graffiti as property destruction, Myers recognizes alternate reasoning for the continuity of graffiti.

According to Salt, for them and so many other artists, the art and culture behind graffiti is much more valuable than crime which is seen at first glance.

“It puts you in a position of power. I love the thought of rich old people and cops pulling their hair out because a stupid teenager wrote on their things,” Salt said. “To people who treat it as a thoughtless destruction of property, if you took the time to appreciate the art, you’d realize there is more to it.”



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Writing on the wall