Deano, Nuber, and the tagging phenomenon

I was glad to see News 8 do a story on the tagging/graffiti phenomenom. It’s has been a problem in my West Campus neighborhood and every where else in town for a while.

Tagging is something I just don’t get. Is it considered an art form? I guess maybe the art could be in the sheer volume of tags, but that is being generous. Is it competition to see who can tag the most things? I’ve never thought of it as gang-related as the News 8 article suggested. I found this article that provides background on it.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how to stop it?

In my neigborhood, our green Grande service boxes became covered with tags. I called Grande up, told them we were having a neighborhood cleanup, and they in turn provided a group of about 8 volunteers, spray paint, and graffitti removal solvent. With their help, we cleaned up the neighborhood in a couple of hours. Grande was very generous with their time.

Since then I read where in NYC, they found the best measure is to have a 24 hour clean-up policy. If graffitti is reported in NYC, the graffitti will be removed in less than a day. They found that it became not worth it to many of the more casual taggers if it is taken down as quickly as it goes up.

11 Comments so far

  1. Grouchy NYer (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 9:18 am

    I live in NYC and there is not a 24 hour watch for graffitti. In some places it is said that graffitti is encouraged because it protects some elements(iron on bridges and other structures) from corrosion.

    I was born and grew up in Austin and I love to keep tabs on what is going on in my home town. But WTF?!? The concern over graffitti makes the town appear so whitewashed. Shouldn’t the town focus this energy towards congestion concerns.

  2. Tim (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 9:48 am

    I thought the article on News8 was horrible. Basically a “why isn’t my city neighborhood a gated suburb” story. That said there isn’t a lot of artistic tagging in Austin. Mostly just kids scribbling with markers. I don’t know what the solution is, and obviously it’s not a recent problem, as you can still go look at the railroad tressel at Barton Springs and South Lamar and see “Seniors ’50”.
    Perhaps we need outreach programs? Get more of the taggers to decorate the sides of buildings on SoCo and SoLa. Make them look hip and Austiny?

  3. steve odom (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 10:05 am

    If it was more artistic than I would not mind it as much. I like the stencil art that you see from time to time. There is this one stencil of a guy emblazend with a big anarchy ‘A’ and throwing a molotov cocktail that I particularly like. Or even those big stickers of fruit that popped up a year or two ago. But just signing “deano” everywhere seems unimaginative.

  4. M Sinclair Stevens (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 10:11 am

    I was going over to Cafe Caffeine this morning to indulge in some coffee and pastry as a research for a post on the transformation of the southwest corner of West Mary and South 5th. As I drove up, my heart sank. The building which also houses Moxie and the Compound and Grow has been vandalized with graffiti.

    I can understand the urge to tag abandoned and decrepit buildings. But to mar a building that people have invested time and money to improve is like throwing dog shit on my doorstep.

  5. ~Emma (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 11:24 am

    So News 8 says…

    “If you see someone spraying graffiti, call 911 to report it.”

    911? Does seeing someone spray graffiti really constitute an emergency?

  6. ttrentham (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 12:59 pm

    ~Emma, if they’re in the act and you can give a description, I’d say yes.

    I’m with Tim and Steve on this one. It’s one thing when it’s something colorful and artistic like a lot of the stuff that came out of NYC in the ’80s. It’s another if it’s just a sharpie of someone’s name.

    I think you have to crack down, but allow an outlet for it. Tagging existing businesses is destructive and totally not cool.

    Driving down I-35, it does seem like lately there’s a lot more graffiti, especially on the northbound frontage between 45th and 6th streets.

    I should’ve stopped and taken a picture, but Sunday night, I passed by Linder Elementary where Wickshire dead ends and noticed a huge pile of gravel stored there since they’re re-paving the roads in the neighborhood. Somebody had tagged the gravel pile. Now, that’s some serious dedication.

  7. wae (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 1:14 pm

    The city’s graffiti-removal hotline is 854-4125. Crews have typically responded within a few days to clean up tagging near Zilker.

    Graffiti doesn’t normally bother me, probably because the stuff I encounter is relatively innocuous and occasionally creative. There’s a line at which it becomes intrusive vandalism (store fronts, homes, etc.), but at this point it seems to cover mostly public infrastructure that would otherwise just be bland concrete and steel.

    Tags sprang up within hours of opening the new trail access bridges under Barton Springs, which was initially a little disappointing. Now I figure it gives a little character to our urban park. I occasionally hear some folks grumbling about “finding those punks,” but I think the graffiti usually looks better than a half-assed coat of paint slapped over the top of it.

  8. ~Emma (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 3:53 pm

    Sorry TTrentham, but in no way is tagging an emergency. Makes about as much sense as the woman who called 911 to get the number of a cute cop she’d seen.

    This town should get a grip.

  9. ttrentham (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 4:22 pm

    I disagree, but way to go to the extreme case to make your point.

    There are a lot of factors to consider before calling, but the News8Austin story specifically mentions to “call 911 if you see someone spraying graffiti”, not if you happen to see it on the side of the road after it’s been tagged and it bothers you. If it’s after the fact, you call the number that wae mentioned.

    If I were a business owner and someone were tagging my building, I’d want a witness to call it in ASAP to increase the chance of catching the culprit. Of course, whether or not APD responds in a reasonable amount of time is another story. As an example, the NYC mayor’s office recommends on their site to “dial 911 for crimes in progress”.

    I’m guessing News8Austin checked that one with APD, but feel free to e-mail APD yourself and get us an answer from the source if you like.

  10. ~Emma (unregistered) on July 26th, 2006 @ 4:58 pm

    Point well taken…:)

  11. ttrentham (unregistered) on August 12th, 2006 @ 2:19 pm

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