A group of people wearing jackets and gas masks stand in front of a wall. They stand there for a while, staring at the gray, empty wall. Seconds later, they take out their spraypaint cans and markers from their bags, and starts scribbling and painting. In their hands, a piece is born.
This is how a graffiti piece is created every night, in many cities around the world. You may not see the people who created the graffiti in action, since they always act at night. But you can always see their work everywhere around your neighborhood, from bus stops to the walls under an overpass.
History of the Masterpieces
The habit of drawing on walls has started in prehistoric times, when primitive men painted animals and people. The purpose of these drawings are still unknown, but some people speculate that they drew it to tell a story about a hunt or about the nature around them. After art and civilization developed, wall paintings flourished in Ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian buildings. All of them depict the gods and godesses they worshipped at that time.
At those times, some people started to scratch and scribble caricatures and poems in the city walls. They did this as an expression of discontent towards the government, anger, or other feelings. A few scribblings and caricatures were found in the Pompeii Ruins.
The modern graffiti we know today started from the discontent of the lower-class people, who were unable to express their feelings and their creativity through normal and legal means. They felt left out by the higher-class people, who were able to utilize their town's resources to express their ideas and creativity. Because of that, they turned to use a medium available at almost every town: walls and spraypaint.
How it became famous
Since its beginning, graffiti has always became a medium to express discontent and anger towards a specific group or towards the government. However, it can also be appreciated as a form of art on its own. In 2006, an exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum displayed 22 works by New York 'writers', or graffiti artists, including Crash, Daze, and Lady Pink. Since then, more and more exhibitions displaying graffiti and street art are being held and appreciated around the world today.
Graffiti has also become famous through other forms of art, such as movies and video games. Games such as the "Jet Set Radio" series promote graffiti in a positive light, so that players can see graffiti as a medium of rebellion towards a totalitarian government. "The World Ends with You", a new game developed by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS, is not a "graffiti-centric" game, but it contains a lot of in-game depictions and references of graffiti, since the game's background is modern day Shibuya, Japan. Some of the game's elements also revolve around street art, including the clothing articles, the background music, and the in-game items.
Graffiti really became famous thanks to the help of other branches of street art, such as DJing (art of mixing music), break dancing, and hip hop. These branches of art incorporate graffiti in it through actions such as putting graffiti on album cover art, video clips, and also on stages. People began to appreciate graffiti as a part of street culture, and as street culture spreads around the world, graffiti is brought along.
Wikipedia (English and Indonesian) - Graffiti
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Graffiti (for English readers)
id.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grafiti (for Indonesian readers)
Tembok Bomber (an Indonesian forum for graffiti artists)
www.tembokbomber.com (for Indonesian readers, but there are little English content)