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Poster Boy… Graffiti artist or Graphic Designer?

How far can we go to translate an artwork as a graphic design piece, rather than as fine art? In the subways of New York City, a graffitist known as Poster Boy has recently been dismantling the posters and advertisements that litter the walls of the subway. Unlike other graffitists, Poster boy does not create obscenities or vulgar graffiti, rather he takes the graphic design work of others and rearranges them as he sees fit. Since he goes against the norm and creates a more “respectable” form of graffiti, many people look past the fact that what he is doing is vandalism and they see Poster Boy’s work as a strike against consumerism. Rather than creating normal graffiti, Poster Boy’s work has a deliberate purpose behind it; which makes people recognize and respect his work.

Understanding this, it’s clearly plausible to say that Poster Boy’s work cannot be simply “grouped in” with normal graffiti. Though his work is an act of vandalism, I believe that Poster Boy’s work can be considered as graphic design. Poster Boy’s goal as an artist is to target consumerism, and to do this he turns consumerism’s own tools against itself. What better way to attack consumerism than to fight fire with fire? Many may argue that his work isn’t graphic design, that all he’s doing is cutting and pasting pieces of paper, but what exactly is graphic design? What factors determine a piece of artwork as graphic design, fine art, or even graffiti? A strict definition for graphic design is an artwork that is compromised of symbols, images and text to communicate visually/commercially. Since he is clearly destroying advertisements to complete his own artwork, doesn’t that mean that he is using the same types of components to create his own artwork?

Not only does he uses other advertisements for his own work, he also rearranges the text in his pieces to convey his own personal message. Anyways, because of this, I believe that though Poster Boy’s work may be graffiti I also believe that it can be considered as graphic design.

One Comment

  1. Kha Tu Nguyen wrote:

    I honestly don’t feel that what this guy is doing can be called graphic design. He might have had a different idea than the artists who created the subway posters, but the original idea was not his. He simply was doing an art craft thing by tearing other people’s posters to make a different creation. The creation is solely using other people’s photos, with no idea of his own, except for the concept. I don’t think poster boy can be called an artist. Maybe someone creative, but not an artist. In modern society today, the world of art has totally changed. Modern art should not mean that you can do abstract art or something beyond that and get credit for being an artist. There should be a line between what is art, and what is just pushing the line and trying to justify it. If you say what poster boy is doing is called graffiti art, I might somewhat agree, but not even completely. Even graffiti artists use there own hands, and materials to create it.

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009 at 2:00 pm | Permalink