What’s the difference between street art and graffiti? 2020 experts’ opinion

difference between street art and graffiti in a painted train

The contemporary art industry is riding on the crest of the wave at the moment. There are modern art fairs organized all over the world. However, it’d be necessary to stop for a moment and think about its trends. What’s the difference that exists between street art and graffiti?

On one hand, you may see newspaper articles on the internet stating that Railway companies pay 25€ millions each year for restoring train wagons vandalized with graffiti. On the other side, did you hear what a private art collector paid for a Banksy’s artwork? 11€ millions!

Do people really understand the similarities and differences that exist between these two categories. These are the thoughts that 3 experts shared with us

Let’s see what do 3 experts think about it:

Street art vs. graffiti based on an urban artist opinion

street art photography
Picture by Ferdinand Feys/flickr Artists: Piet Rodriguez & Defo

According to a professional contemporary art artist and illustrator called ‘Rey de la Ruina’, those terms aren’t the same.

He believes there is a code in them. Graffiti is restricted whereas street art is open. There are only a few who understands what painting tags and throw-ups in the city mean, while the general audience could analyze the meaning of a street art decoration.

The difference between street art and graffiti could also be observed in people’s opinion. The majority of the population thinks that graffiti degrades the streets’ aspect. However, those same citizens have another point of view when asked about street art. They like it!

El Rey de la Ruina, Madrid based artist

There also exist an added value for each community, but it will all depend on which artistic scene you feel identified with.

Who is behind the street artist name ‘Rey de la Ruina’?

difference street art graffiti
Graphic design created by El Rey de la Ruina during the Coronavirus lock-down

You might recognize who this artist is if we mentioned the hearts drawn in metal shutters all around Madrid city. El Rey de la Ruina is a versatile graphic designer whose career changed dramatically.

He was diagnosed with enlarged heart disease in the past, and that’s the exact moment when he decided to step up. It was by that time that Ruina started drawing iconic hearts (1-2 meters tall) with spray paint. In addition, he included social and political quotes in their interior.

Firstly, Ruina belongs to the graffiti community. Later, he observed how trendy his drawings were and started innovating with patterns, colors and big size stencils. Did you know that he is particularly interested in hands and plants?

What does Javier Garcia, Cooltourspain’s CEO, think about the modern art industry?

the difference between street art and graffiti by Javier Garcia
Javier Garcia in front of the mural Okudart painted for Muros Tabacalera, Madrid

Before we offer you his opinion, here is a brief information that you should know about the company. Cooltourspain is a social, cultural, educational and touristic project based in Madrid. A group of local art professionals who offer street art tours and graffiti workshops.

Javier Garcia founded it in 2016 and the modern art community has partnered with him ever since. These are some of the activities he offers in town:

  • Street art tour in Lavapies, Madrid
  • Graffiti guided visit in Malasaña,
  • Alternative urban art bike route.

The difference between street art and graffiti

the difference between street art and graffiti in an art gallery
Urban art exhibition in Madrid, February 2020

According to him, the difference relies on the feelings that the artists use to create their artworks. It is not the same working illegally than legally. What’s the goal that exists for them to paint in the streets?

Graffiti has always been linked to the existence of no rules. That is to say, vandalism. For instance, painting train wagons, business doors or someone’s property. On the other hand, street art is observed as trendy, cool and it receives the general audience’s support.

Javier Garcia’s answer when asked about the difference between street art and graffiti

Investigation about the street art history. Where does graffiti belong?

graffiti letter
Graffiti ABC. Letter A. Professional level

Last artist interviewed in this article is Mark Zimmerman, also known as DMS1. His experience on the ground as both graffiti writer and modern art artist will show another point of view.

He believes that answering the question is completely biased. It will all depend on one’s prejudices and previous knowledge about the topics covered herein.

In order to analyze the terms we should rename the street art industry and call it from now on ‘urban art’. Mark feels more comfortable when talking about historical facts. He loves providing details!

The main difference between street art and graffiti relays on categorization. We would find urban art at the top of the family tree. Then, you would find several branches. For instance, we could see:

  • Murals,
  • Tags & throw (bubble like graffiti letters),
  • Stencils,
  • Stickers,
  • Tiles, sculptures and other 3D art installations

How to build a career as a modern art artist?

artists' point of view about the difference street art graffiti
Marz Zimmerman photographed in front of the mural he painted collaboratively at MOS

Based on Zimmerman’s thoughts, artists have to progress. He started as a graffiti writer in the early 90’s painting without permission in street walls. Later, he observed as the same people who always criticized this form of expression were interested in his talent.

That’s the moment when he observed the full potential within urban art. Since then, he produces studio artworks on canvas, either with spray paint or markers, for private collectors and friends. At the same time, he provides professional graffiti services for business owners interested in decorating their organizations.

Last but on least, he compares the difference between street art and graffiti with his own example. DMS1 is the urban graffiti artist and Mark Zimmerman would be his contemporary version.

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