Detroit Graffiti

Photo via I love Detroit Michigan

There is an ongoing debate on whether graffiti is street art or vandalism.  In some cases it’s both and some cases it’s neither, so where do you draw the line and how do you determine whether you should preserve the art or remove the vandalism?  This is the question we have for you today.

Graffiti is art:

There are many opportunities to classify graffiti as art.  Like many pieces of art, graffiti is often used as a medium to express emotions and generate discussion.  After watching this video on Graffiti in New Center there is clearly a  message being communicated along this railroad near our New Center building. There is even a blog dedicated to showcasing graffiti in Detroit.

I Love Detroit Michigan is supporting a Detroit Beautification project which allows artists to legally tag buildings. The goals of this project are to raise community spirits and brighten up these areas of Detroit.  Most of these projects are completed as a collaborative effort between several artists and supporters.

Graffiti is vandalism:

While graffiti done with the right intentions can be conversational and uplifting, it can also be used negatively.  Graffiti is more often associated with vandalism.  Gangs use graffiti as a way to mark territories and show a visual defiance to authority.  The visual appearance of graffiti done in this manner can make the community feel unsafe, and the area look abandoned.

Graffiti on the Old Nabisco Building: 

U-Haul NBC Building Graffiti

U-Haul NBC Building Graffiti

We appreciate that graffiti can be more meaningful locally, so we wanted to learn more about the tags on our building.   Our primary concerns are making sure that no inappropriate messages are on the building and that our building is seen as a safe place for anyone to frequent.  That usually means we don’t have buildings with graffiti art, but then again there are notable exceptions such as our signage in Corpus Christi.

We will consider whether to keep or remove this graffiti carefully and thoughtfully, but we’d like to hear what you think. Do you know anything about the graffiti on our building? What does it mean to you?


6 Responses to Detroit Revitalization: Graffiti Art or Vandalism?

  1. Vladislav Namestnikov says:

    That wall has been a landmark in Detroit graffiti for over a decade. In addition, the average customer would never go back there. I vote to keep it.

  2. heather lougher says:

    I vote to keep it. This is art not graffiti this isnt just some kid acting out and spraying some random thing on a wall this is something someone put alot of thought and effort into and should stay.

  3. Colby says:

    “Photo via I love Michigan” is art.  The words on the back of the uhaul building looks like vandalism. Its not aesthetically pleasing at all (from what I can see). The picture is small; so maybe im in the wrong.

  4. johnny gibbon says:

    The fact that u haul is open minded enough about this isgreat. Graffiti is intresting to anyone w an open mind. It is vandalism. Its cool vandalism. Aesthetics of the city. It belongs. It is not gang related, for the most part.

    • Toni J says:

      Thanks for your input! We’ve definitely seen some spectacular graffiti art around the city of Detroit.

  5. Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben says:

    I wrote a piece about Detroit tag art for Yahoo! I’d like to learn more about graff culture.

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