Graffiti I.D.?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by Sanford, Jun 13, 2020.

  1. Mine got painted over the next day...
  2. The ephemeral nature of street art!

    Mine grew up!
  3. Last time I waded through the thick wodge of paper (or many megabytes) that is 'international' copyright law; the gist of one section was: Where another artist's work forms a substantial part of the work in question, then that original artist will be deemed to own the copyright of the work depicting their original work or concept.

    Just sayin'!

    Whether vandalising taggers can be called 'artists' is an entirely different question.
  4. That’s up to the person using the word “artist.” Some people will call it art. Others will not.
    Here’s what I, a non-lawyer, say and do.

    Using a photo on a website or social media is different from making money from a photo, and copyright law and requirements often hinge on commercial use, which this forum is not.

    I use others’ art in some of my photos. I don’t sell most of my photos. I do this comfortably. When the original artist is known to me, I give credit to that artist. When it is not, I try to find out who made it, and sometimes I can’t. Most graffiti is unsigned and it would be hard to determine who made it.

    I think some graffiti is not much more than street expression, some is vandalism, and some is art. Personal judgments.

    A lot of graffiti itself is illegal and may amount to vandalism of business or public property, and that plays a role in thinking about this as well. It’s also in public spaces, just like people who, in most non-commercial uses, are legally photographable while in public. Again, commercial use of their images may carry different legal responsibilities.

    The fact that some graffiti is made illegally doesn’t mean it’s not art.
    tholte and michaellinder like this.
  5. Interesting, but debatable, point, Joe. I don't profess to know what credentials one must have to qualify for the appellation "artist." When it comes to art itself, although I certainly claim no expertise, I think I sometimes can distinguish bad art from good (or degrees of better) art. Having spent almost 2 weeks recently in Israel, here's my response to the OP and graffiti I consider to be good street art. There are many examples of good street art throughout Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

  6. I shoot a lot of graffiti, but I don't sell my work. If I post it (here, for instance), I note that while the photo is mine, the original art is not. I'm not a lawyer, but my assumption is that I'm safe, as a practical matter, making prints for personal use around my home & office.

    raw0007-Exposure copy.jpg
  7. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good

    I have taken (and posted here) photos of local street art, but my personal view is that 'tags', football supporter slogans and other such displays do not qualify as 'Art' - whatever that may be.

    I do, however, have a soft spot for humourous or politically motivated slogans or illustrations. One of my long-time favourites is 'Don't vote - it only encourages them !'.
    ericphelps likes this.
  8. Joe, I offer the same disclaimer as you and Sam. I am confident, though, that a photo of graffiti cannot be considered plagiarized. Each is distinct from the other, two separate art forms.
  9. Then again, Banksy might disagree ...


  10. To be precise, I've never offered a disclaimer about my photos. I take for granted that most viewers assume that graffiti or a statue or a building I might include or even focus on in a photo are not mine.

    What I said is that, when possible, I give an attribution for the graffiti, statue, or building to the creator, because I like to give such people credit. But, it is to give them credit, not to let anyone know I didn't create the art in the photo.

    disclaimer - a statement that denies something, especially responsibility

    attribution - ascribing a work or remark to a particular author, artist, or person

    I know it's a fine difference but one I want to make.
    michaellinder likes this.
  11. Sam, fine differences don't bother me. I learn from them.
  12. Tell that to the arrogant architects who try to prevent their buildings being photographed.

    I was simply stating above what's written in copyright law. That law doesn't distinguish a casual tag from a Banksy. Or a crappy concrete-and-glass lump from a carefully crafted and beautiful facade.
  13. Tony Parsons

    Tony Parsons Norfolk and Good


    I have a great respect for the works of Banksy (and others of his ilk) who combine social and political comment with humour - to me, this is street art of the finest order, the more so because it is not sponsored by Local Government, Big Business or any other conglomerate with an axe to grind. Thanks for the reference - I was once in the waiting room of a Government Building, and affixed to the wall was a varnished wooden plaque, within a carven border, upon which were inscribed the words 'It Is Forbidden To Write On The Walls'. Even in those days, it struck me as strange that money had been spent on such an item, yet was not available for other, more important uses.

    However, underneath and equally neatly, someone had carefully written 'Killjoy Was Here'.
  14. Actually, since you left out commercial use, you were misstating what’s written in copyright law.

    And ... Michael didn’t mention architects or buildings, so why respond to the issue of graffiti with a non sequitur?
  15. Yes, the Banksy story is an interesting one. His work reminds me that, while not everything is art, anything can be art, if done artistically. At a point in history, Stieglitz had to convince the art world that photography was or could be art. I agree with you that some and maybe a lot of tagging isn’t art, but disagree with the more broad brush approach that says, “tags do not qualify as art.” Some do qualify.
  16. "Tell that to the arrogant architects who try to prevent their buildings being photographed." Very few buildings in the US are "trademarked". There is one in Milwaukee, the Calatrava addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum. If the building is trademarked, you can still photograph it to your hearts content and sell any such images if: it is not the main subject of the photo ie., skyline/cityscape etc. You can take all the photos you want of a trademarked building if you are on public property and do not use the images in a commercial way. Our local photo group had a trademark lawyer spell out the facts to us in a presentation. Shooting grafitti or wall art is different because it is 99.9% sure that it is not trademarked. You would be pretty safe no matter what you did with the images and 100% safe if the grafitti or wall art is just part of the overall image and not the main element.
  17. Pebble Beach has a trademarked tree!
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020
  18. What about this? A photograph of a photograph of a painting.
    Fisherman's Wharf 12_Face Painter_1.jpg
    ericphelps likes this.

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