The death of local styles

Particularly in segments of the graffiti community, there’s a concern that the proliferation of street art and graffiti photos online has led to the death of local styles. It’s a concern that has been around even from the early days of graffiti being online and something that Caleb Neelon touched on in his essay about graffiti on the internet from 1994-2004. These concerned writers have a point. Traditionally, styles were developed at a local level and passed down between generations of graffiti writers, but the internet has led to the disappearance of some local styles. Instead of looking at the kings and other elders in their own backyard, writers are looking all around the world for stylistic inspiration. New styles of graffiti are no longer nearly as tied to particularly geographic regions because they can spread around to the rest of the world almost instantly.

That’s not always the case though. One reason that certain styles and techniques are still somewhat tied to local tradition is that every city is different, and different styles and techniques suit different locations. Atlanta is never going to have nearly as much sticker art or sticker-based graffiti as Philadelphia has seen over the last decade because Atlanta is a driving city where nobody is going to see stickers, whereas people see stickers when they walk around Philadelphia and many walls that might otherwise be prime locations for larger street art or graffiti are covered with public art arranged by Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program. Artists in Atlanta can adapt to their surroundings by going big and making work that can be seen even if you’re driving by in a car. Graffiti writers and street artists still have to make work for specific environments, and so some local irregularities will still exist, or at least they will if the artists in those communities are smart enough to pick up on how to best work with the architecture and style of city they are in.

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