Graffiti art is not vandalism! How advertisers use street art and what happens to art in promotional culture

Outdoor advertising and graffiti are expressed through space and property, and are framed by ideas of creativity and innovation (Cronin and Hetherington 2008). Advertising is a form of ‘capitalist realism’ where athletics and its meaning portray not life as it is, but life as it should be according to the principles of capitalism. In promotional culture the hegemonic understanding of ‘life’ is oriented by the production of, and aspiration for, consumer goods. However, graffiti is usually identified for its portrayal of real life, the bitter truth with vibrant colours, text, and images (Banksy 2006; Cronin and Hetherington 2008; Pan 2014 and Robinson 1990). Graffiti generally acts upon principles of anti-capitalism or anti-consumerism. Analyzing outdoor advertising and graffiti, its evident that promotional intermediary acts as an agency. Intention and individuality which advertising attempts to suppress or channel for its own commercial benefits occurs through graffiti art. Hence, one my independent research essay examines how advertisers use art (graffiti) and what happens to art when it is incorporated in advertising. This essay focuses on two famous graffiti artists, Banksy and Moose (Paul Curtis) to analyze how promotional culture gives an altered meaning to art, particularly street art (Davis 2013).

            This essay demonstrates how promotional culture adapts values such as communication value, authentic value, economic value, aesthetic (artistic) value, and cultural value. Promotional culture inhabits these values from graffiti artists to promote brands. Thus the voice of street artists becomes treasured, because graffiti art is no longer a trashy art that sits on an abandoned wall. This essay also discusses how the public treasures graffiti for its powerful message and style, which then promotional intermediaries modify and purify graffiti artists’ styles and messages to promote brands with an optimistic vibe. Graffiti artists convey messages through their art to criticize consumer culture however; in promotional culture the values and styles of street artists are taken to construct brand identity, brand values, and social relations. This promotional cycle becomes critical when analyzing Banksy and Moose.