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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:Commercial graffiti: self-expression, the allure of danger, or graffiti made 'pretty'?
Authors:Rabiega, Patrick R.
Burger, Mariekie
Periodical:Communicatio: South African journal for communication theory and research (ISSN 1753-5379)
Geographic term:South Africa
Subjects:mural art
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/02500167.2017.1297323
Abstract:The visual stylistic elements of graffiti are increasingly being used in the commercial world of advertising and marketing, as backdrops for music videos, and in merchandise and packaging. This market-oriented graffiti constitutes the mainstreaming of a subculture, that is, selling the stylistic subcultural elements as a new fad. Subsequently, commercial graffiti has been criticised for undermining the essence of real graffiti as the very aspect it seeks to oppose is now served, and in the process graffiti is robbed of its resistance identity. This article engages critically with this view by enquiring how Johannesburg (South Africa) commercial graffiti writers make sense of their commercial graffiti work. In a qualitative study, 11 commercial graffiti writers, who are engaged in small commercial contracts or who are freelancing for well-established consumer brands, and full-time graphic designers, were interviewed. Reoccurring themes that arose included self-expression and simplifying graffiti styles to be more accessible and 'pretty' for general public consumption. Albeit in a different way, the recognition the graffiti writers gained from the public through their commercial work echoes some elements of the recognition gained through graffiti crews. Probably the most astounding finding of the study is that they felt that the commerciality of graffiti is simply a temporary phase that will eventually fade. Bibliogr., note, sum. [Journal abstract]