Street Art Guide

Posted: November 1, 2017

Street art – ‘genuine’ art form or ‘vandalism’?

It’s a common misconception to think about street art as vandalism – of course, everything has its place and spray painting on museum buildings and names carved into historical sights do cause harm. However, street art (that includes small tags to sculptural works) has its own history and legitimacy. It’s easy to have prejudice against something one doesn’t know – here, with this short summary we’ll try to show how street art isn’t the same as vandalism.

Interested in Dundee’s street art scene? Check out what OpenClose is up to!

Paintings on caves – the earliest form of ‘street art’?


Street art has been with us since the beginning of time, and it’s purposes haven’t changed much. Communication, protest, remembrance, aesthetic appreciation – whatever it be, writing and drawing on the street states a presence and calls for attention.

Written or visual, street art is generally used to broadcast statements about current political and social issues.

Writing on a plane, WW2

“Famous” graffiti that appeared at the time of the Second World War.

Words of protest and political commentary appeared on the streets since the Second World War, and continues ever since.

Graffiti on the Berlin Wall

Between the 1960’s and 80’s, street art developed in New York’s streets – signs of street gangs to band posters to well-known artworks by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Graffiti from MMP, first recorded street gang in the history of Oregon’s capital city of Salem “Spyder” was gang leader.1987.

Scull by Jean-Michel Basquiat

Keith Haring


One of many appeals of street art is that you don’t need a sterile gallery setting in order to show your artwork, and since its beginnings, street artists proved their technical skills by developing techniques from everyday scribbles to spectacular wall paintings.


Murals are artworks that appear on walls, and usually include or use unique architectural features of the chosen area.



Artworks created with this technique use pre-drawn and cut out drawings that are then sprayed onto the surface.


Tagging is the name given to when street artists scribble their uniquely designed names/ monikers onto surfaces, showing that they have been there.


Throw-ups are similar to tagging, but they are large scale, spray painted, and usually use a similar type of ‘bubble letter’. Regardless, they are always spectacular.

Street Art Sculpture

Sculptural works on the streets follow the same idea: funny, critical, or just simply aesthetically pleasing, they bring street art into a different dimension. Street art sculptures usually cleverly utilise the given features of the particular area.

Isaac Cordal ‘Cement eclipses’