Usually graffiti is considered as a very new and modern type of art, but actually the origin of it dates back thousands of years. Of course, we are not talking about graffiti art as we know it today, but lot of cave cravings and drawings are graffiti as well. Graffiti is writing or drawings scribbled, scratched, or sprayed illicitly on a wall or other surface in a public place, so those cave cravings which were made in public space was also sort of graffiti.
Maybe some people will say that it’s not connected, because primitive art works were made on public places, because there was no other places to do that and art itself wasn’t developed, but those ancient drawings actually are also ideologically very close to modern graffiti. The aim of cave cravings and similar primitive art works was to introduce people to something or to protest about something. At first modern graffiti also was meant only to tell something to the society.
Since the ancient times graffiti in different forms were quite common. There were a lot of writing and drawings made in public places to tell something to the whole society, but if we are talking about modern graffiti as we know it today, it all started only at 1970s when the hip hop culture stated to develop. Also before there were signs and drawings made on walls with spray paint, but within hip hop culture these graffiti became real artworks that are not only simple images, but colorful, specially designed signs that were really eye-catching.
As hip hop subculture formed in New York City, this was the place also graffiti developed. Lot of hip-hop elements was included in graffiti and they gradually became real art works. They were detailed, with complicated composition, shadows, perspective etc. Some people started to see it not only as type of protest, but sort of art.
One of the first graffiti artists was Lee Quinones. He wasn’t the very first, but he was the one who became famous or least known in field of art as a graffiti artist. He made art gallery of his and other graffiti artists works in Rome, which introduced Europeans with this art. Later graffiti art works also was used in hip-hop videos, movies etc. That made graffiti even more popular around the world.
Although graffiti wasn’t only made in public places anymore, but also on special backgrounds in art studios, it doesn’t mean graffiti became completely legal. Graffiti artists still used buildings and other infrastructure as a background of their art and even competed with each other. It became integral component of hip hop culture just like break-dance.
Later, when the whole world was intruded with this art, it started to commercialize and became a part of pop culture. People started to consider as something very trendy and hip hop artists and fans wasn’t only ones who used and appreciated it anymore, although in most cases the hip hop elements were remained in art works. Nowadays graffiti is still quite popular and used for many reasons.