The final week of Ideas from the History of Graphic Design was about different graphic design subcultures from the 1950’s and 1907’s. It was interesting to learn about how much design had changed. For our assignment, we were asked to talk about a more recent subculture and describe its characteristics, function, members, and a bit about its history.
I have a personal encounter with one so I chose to talk to discuss it –
Toronto’s Graffiti Alley
There is about a kilometer’s worth of wall space of graffiti not-so-secretly tucked away in the city of Toronto. Graffiti have existed since ancient times from writing, scratches, drawings on walls to the modern time’s rich colorful paints, spray paints and markers as used by graffiti artists. Graffiti art has created a subculture of artists who express themselves, their social and political messages, their beliefs through a colorful, unique illustrations in back alley walls. They usually are unknown or would like to remain private or anonymous. It’s a rebelious act because in some places it is considered illegal and considered vandalism. For Graffiti Alley in Toronto, however, the local community share this passion where building and store owners allow these artists to create their masterpieces on the walls of their properties or even complete bulidings. Ever since the interest in street art in the 1980’s, events were even held to support these artists who had been doing this generous work for years allowing this subsculture to thrive and become part of the city’s identity.
Graffiti Alley had become a destination for street art enthusiasts and tourists alike. Searching for these art works had become a thrill because they could disappear any time as artists both new and old paint over existing works of art. These works range from colorful and striking modern illustrations that usually tell stories of the past, present, or future – may it be political or social, or something personal, perhaps a remembrance to someone who had passed away. Characters in the illustration range from the creative, whimsical, strange to the familiar. Graffiti Alley also features works that are stylized letters often jagged and distorted letterings or contorted shapes that are also seen in musical genres like rock and hip-hop. Artists often use this style of lettering as signatures if not the main body of their work or message. This subculture created its own community, its own style, and even its own letterform.