Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Assignment five

Earlier this year I used secondary resources to find out information on the issues surrounding graffiti. The library and library cross search allowed me to find books and articles relating to these subjects giving me an extensive amount of background knowledge and information. I have since learned many primary research methods and feel that they are extremely important in finding out important information. Seeing what the issues are for yourself and hearing about them from the people who know most gives you a more diverse learning experience compared to reading a book. I would now like to discuss the many ways in which I could take my studies in to graffiti further by using my own research methods.

First of all I would like to highlight the main issues that occur when talking about graffiti, as these are the issues that I will need to tackle with my research. One of the most highly discussed issues is “why do people do graffiti?” as this provides many answers to another issue “how graffiti should be tackled.” Other areas of interest are; who does graffiti, how do graffiti artists resist authority, what types of graffiti are there, where are the most graffiti prone areas, and what are societies views on graffiti.

There have been numerous conclusions drawn over and over again about why people do graffiti. The article “Designing against Vandalism” provides a detailed list of favoured answers. It could be because of “innocence of age, peer pressure, status, respect, daring, revenge to individuals/institutions, general frustration and boredom, competition, sheer excitement or to show resentment to a political campaign or any other campaign.” These are very believable and detailed answers so I would consider using these topics as a basis for interview questions. I would interview a cross section of people who have done graffiti in the past or still do graffiti asking them questions such as what were there motives to do graffiti, were there motives different in different circumstances, how did they feel before, during, and after doing each tag, and what did they gain from doing graffiti. This would allow me to get some very personal answers and prove the reasons listed above right or wrong. To find the right people to interview I would go to places with a lot of graffiti and try and catch some graffiti artists to potentially interview. I could ask them for connections to other graffiti artists. I could also arrange meetings with certain groups to see if any of them were graffiti artists for example; young offenders, secondary school pupils, youth club attendees and university students. Arranging meetings with groups like this would also give me information on what types of people do graffiti helping me define the most dominant age, sex and background of graffiti artists.

In “Making their Mark,” the author Lindsey Othen-Price feels that graffiti is a predominantly male activity so I would like to gather more information on this through the interviews. I could do this not only by viewing out of the groups of people whether it is more male or females that come forward as graffiti artists but I could also ask them if they do graffiti in groups or with friends and are they male or female. I could take this idea further by observing graffiti artists taking a note of male and female numbers and by contacting local police stations and asking them for statistics on the numbers of male and females that have been caught committing offences by doing graffiti.

Interviewing people who do graffiti is important but it is also important to hear the other side of the story. I would like to use interviews to find out why others choose not to graffiti, as this would provide answers on how to change graffiti artist’s motives. I would not ask a certain group of people but instead target a mixture of age groups and sexualities to get a diverse range of answers. I would ask them if they have ever considered doing graffiti and why, did they go through with it and how did that make them feel, did something stop them from doing it again, are they for or against it and for what reasons. I could also ask questions such as did or do you- attend a youth club, enjoy school, have many hobbies- to allow me to draw more conclusions on what leads people to do graffiti.

An interesting issue to do with graffiti is where it is commonly done. Are there similarities between these places and do they link to the types of people that do it? “The Treatment of Graffiti on Historic Surfaces” book identifies the most graffiti prone areas to be rundown/ empty buildings, street furniture, toilets, garages, shops, subways and train stations, schools, poor and poverty ridden neighbourhoods and play parks. These places are easily accessible and don’t have much surveillance.

I would use this information as a foundation to do more research. I would go to the places listed and make observations about the positioning and amounts of graffiti in each place. I would then target other areas such as offices, banks and museums and see if they have any graffiti to allow me to compare and contrast my findings.

Over the years many techniques have been tried and tested to deter and eradicate graffiti. One of the techniques I find most interesting is that of the mural. The article- “The Mural as Graffiti Deterrence”- is nothing but­­ perfect for finding out information on this subject but I would like to make my own observations. I would begin my research by contacting local councils and schools to see if they have used this method and if they could tell me where the murals are. This would allow me to visit the murals and view for myself if there is any graffiti over the paintings or in the surrounding areas. To back up my findings I could add some questions to my interviews about the subject. I could ask people if they would ever graffiti over a mural and why would they do this.

There are numerous other techniques to get rid of and protect against graffiti. To find out which techniques prove most successful I would like to contact those who deal with these issues. I would again contact the council asking to speak to those who are concerned with graffiti and arrange an interview. I would firstly like to find out from them what they feel is the most acceptable and most unacceptable forms of graffiti and what form of graffiti do they tackle the most. I would then move on to ask them questions about methods and techniques they have used in different circumstances to eradicate graffiti and what the outcomes have been. To gain more information on the subject I would try and arrange to visit the scene the next time some graffiti is being cleaned. Being able to see when and how it is cleaned up would give me a new perspective on the situation and I could possibly ask the individual who was cleaning some quick questions. Asking the people who clean up the graffiti would give balance to my research and I would find it very interesting to find out why they do the job; do they feel strongly about having clean environments, do they check back on areas they have cleaned and how would they feel if it had been sprayed over again. It would be interesting to see if any of the cleaners had ever done graffiti in the past and if they felt bad erasing some peoples work.

To conclude my research I feel that the last group of people I would like to find out information from would be architects. The article “Paint Fight” by Eleanor Young focuses on graffiti from an architect’s point of view and states “the answer to graffiti is to consider it at the start of the design process compared to worrying about it when it's too late.” I would like to interview a mixture of architect students, architect tutors and architect businesses for information. I would ask students if they had been taught about how to design to protect against graffiti and if they felt that it was an important consideration when designing building ideas. I would ask tutors if they felt that graffiti deterrence was an important part of the architectural course and if they felt strongly about it. Given the chance to speak to an individual from an architectural firm I would ask if they had found graffiti a big problem with past projects and if so how have they got round this. I could also ask them how much they consider graffiti when tackling a new project and what have they found to be effective in design against graffiti. Asking all concerned with architecture would give me a wider range of answers opposed to just asking architects already in the business.

Although I have been looking at graffiti as a whole my main interest is graffiti on trains. I feel that it is more beneficial to tackle it as a whole first to gain a variety of ideas and view points before focusing in on one area of graffiti. To finish off my research correctly I think it would be advantageous for me to go to the train station at different times and make observations on who is around, is there any graffiti on trains and is there much surveillance. I would use the information from my previous interviews to devise an appropriate and focused variety of questions to ask train station staff, train cleaners, customers and graffiti artists if the opportunity arose. I would be using all of the same techniques, as I would have carried out for tackling graffiti as a whole but on a smaller scale. I hope that the experience of tackling graffiti as a whole first would make it a lot easier to find the information about graffiti on trains a lot quicker, more efficiently and easier.

Overall I feel that I have set out to tackle each issue of graffiti in a detailed manner. The primary research methods I have picked for each one seem appropriate and useful and connect to past experiences and knowledge. I would be prepared to change each method as I see fit if they were to be unsuccessful and would keep an accurate track of my findings through out the research process to make it easy to draw precise conclusions.


The Design Council, (1979) 'Designing against Vandalism'

Othen-Price, L. (2006) 'Making Their Mark: A Psychodynamic View of Adolescent Graffiti Writing', Psychodynamic Practice

Technical Conservation, Research and Education Division, (1999) 'The Treatment of Graffiti on Historic Surfaces'

Craw, P. Lelend, L. Bussell, M. Munday, S. Walsh, K. (2006) 'The Mural As Graffiti Deterrence', Environment & Behaviour,

Young, E. (2001) 'Paint Fight', RIBA journal

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