You may walk down the street in any given neighborhood on the East Side of London and notice what looks to be paint on the wall. Depending on your mind set of this given day, you may choose to see it in two different ways: Art or Vandalism. We personally used to think it was just vandalism, unless it was something we have previously seen online done by a famous graffiti artist.  Josh, our very sassy hipster tour guide, taught us to open our minds and see the art on the streets in a whole different way.

Hannah Peterson, Alexander Hagen1

What looks to be just a bunch of words spray-painted on a wall is actually the beginnings of a graffiti artist finding his own outlet. Most graffiti artists begin their careers illegally painting on the wall or plastering posters around to get their message out. As the graffiti artist’s work gains popularity, he/she may eventually gain permission from various landowners to paint on their private property.  Some well known graffiti artists today are Banksy, Jonesy, and Space Invader, their work can be seen around the world.

On our tour we came across a little shop that had framed prints of graffiti art being sold to buy. Josh took it upon himself to make certain that we stopped in front of this store so he could talk about the sinfulness of taking other peoples’ art and selling it for their own profit. He informed us that the artists don’t have anything to do with these selfish human beings that did what anyone can do; take a picture of what you see on the streets and print it out.

Hannah Peterson, Alexander Hagen2

Josh went on to explain in detail that buying products from these types of vendors hurts both the artists and the art itself. People that run these stores will rip down graffiti from famous artists so they can sell it for their own profit. This process takes away the experience of seeing these works in real life away from anyone who isn’t rich enough to afford the extremely high prices these vendors will stick on the artworks that they have stolen from the public.

Hannah Peterson, Alexander Hagen

Josh told us to avoid supporting these horrible vendors and instead support the artists themselves, look them up and see if they sell prints themselves. Most artists are not wealthy and until they reach the fame of Banksy or others similar, they are not living lavishly. These artists tend to sell prints of their work on their websites and the money from these purchases go straight to supporting these artists so they can continue to beautify the streets. So, next time you are taking a stroll down artwork lane and you see a little scribble that may look pointless, remember every Banksy has to have a beginning. And beginnings aren’t always as beautiful as the ending.

–Hannah Peterson & Alexander Hagen