An ancient urban art

Graffiti (singular: graffito; the plural is used as a mass noun) is writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place.

Stickers and other adhesives are not considered graffiti. Graffiti ranges from simple written words to elaborate wall paintings, and has existed since ancient times, with examples dating back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire.

Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles. Within hip hop culture, graffiti has evolved alongside hip hop musicb-boying, and other elements. Unrelated to hip-hop graffiti, gangs use their own form of graffiti to mark territory or to serve as an indicator of gang-related activities. Graffiti may also express underlying social and political messages and a whole genre of artistic expression is based upon spray paint graffiti styles.

In most countries, marking or painting property without the property owner’s consent is considered defacement and vandalism, which is a punishable crime.

Within hip hop culture, graffiti has evolved alongside hip hop musicb-boying, and other elements. Unrelated to hip-hop graffiti, gangs use their own form of graffiti to mark territory or to serve as an indicator of gang-related activities.

Controversies that surround graffiti continue to create disagreement amongst city officials/law enforcement and writers who wish to display and appreciate work in public locations. There are many different types and styles of graffiti and it is a rapidly developing art form whose value is highly contested, reviled by many authorities while also subject to protection, sometimes within the same jurisdiction.

Etymology

Graffiti and graffito are from the Italian word graffiato (“scratched”). “Graffiti” is applied in art history to works of art produced by scratching a design into a surface. A related term is “sgraffito“, which involves scratching through one layer of pigment to reveal another beneath it. This technique was primarily used by potters who would glaze their wares and then scratch a design into it. In ancient times graffiti was carved on walls with a sharp object, although sometimes chalk or coal were used. The word originates from Greek γράφειν — graphein — meaning “to write.”