Why Graffiti is Important and How to use it in Your Home

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Art or defacement? There’s a fine line that divides the art world on this topic. Some see graffiti as the most powerful art movement as it gives insight to what’s happening on the street. Others see it as vandalism, which I guess you might if it’s your fence or garage that was tagged. The interesting thing about graffiti is that this art form has existed since ancient times. In the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, the very first example of graffetti is an advertisement for prostitution. It shows a heart with footprints and a number. Graffiti has always been associated with a subculture that rebels against authority. Many have used graffiti to push a political and social agenda. It’s only been in the last 20 years that graffiti has moved more mainstream and become more legit through hip hop culture and mass media commercialization. 

We’re seeing graffiti and street art infiltrating fashion and interior design. Street artists, or vandals, depending on your point of view, are turning their hand to illustration and design and their work is showing up in the most unusual places.

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Pamela Bell, ex Kate Spade partner, didn’t want to create a Manhatten ‘trophy home’ so she invited her daughter’s 7th grade class to graffiti her muslin sofa with fabric markers. It works because of its imperfections. It’s engaging because of its flaws. And it certainly can’t be reproduced. It’s not the look for everyone, but it plays nicely off the Persian rugs and the traditional piano.

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If you want to bring a little of the street scene to your decor, it’s becoming easier as this trend gains respectability.

Ames Tile has come up with a line called ‘Word Up’ that incorporates graffiti and street art. We did interior walls of a creative office using this tile for an edgy look. http://www.amestile.com/wordup

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Timorous Beasties is a fabric and wallpaper manufacturing company based in Glasgow.  They are known for their edgy take on toile de Jouy fabrics of Napoleonic France. Their designs display a chic irreverence that resonates with those that appreciate classic design with a kick.  http://www.timorousbeasties.com

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Photographer Chris Vanderwees makes street photography in Toronto. He has a doctorate in English Literature, is an adjunct professor in the School of Liberal Arts & Sciences at George Brown College, has published many academic papers, yet takes to the streets to find what’s real. http://chrisvanderwees.tumblr.com 

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Calgary’s own David Brunning – TheKidBelo – is best known for his graffiti art and abstract work. One of the goals of David’s work is to influence the public perception of graffiti art. He wants people to take another look at an art form that is sometimes dismissed. http://www.thesweatlab.com http://thekidbelo.com

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Many restaurants are embracing the graffiti/street art scene in their decor. It creates a laid back vibe that speaks of youth and rebellion.  It’s fun, large and messy. It’s impertinence means that you can’t take it too seriously.

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Even Calgary’s own restaurant scene is exploring this design movement. Market, located on 17th Avenue in Calgary, is known for it’s fresh ingredients and unique decor. Above the bar is chalk paint and sketches of just about anything. Even the bathroom doors carry on this theme. http://marketcalgary.ca

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Una Pizza+ Wine is a great little spot for pizza. We like that they feature different local artists on their largest wall. http://www.unapizzeria.com

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The legitimization of graffiti art is evident in the places it’s popping up. From ancient civilizations to modern times, graffiti has been the  art of youth. If you want to bring an edginess to your decor, this is a surefire way to do it.

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So what do you think of the graffiti trend in home decor? Even if  big bold graffiti’s not your thing, it’s fun to try something new. How about a little cushion with some doodling on it? It’s wonderful thing to be open to new ideas.

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Have a great week.





Karen Fron Interior Design is a Calgary based design firm. We believe that a well functioning and beautiful home makes life better. It's not about how much you have, it's about using what you have to create beauty.


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