For the many who think that street art is vandalism, plain and simple – consider reverse graffiti.
Reverse graffiti (aka clean tagging, dust tagging, grime writing), is a method of creating art in public spaces by removing the dirt from its surface. Early forms of reverse graffiti include writing and pictures drawn on the dirty windows of cars and shops. In the last several years, a more advanced method has emerged where art is created by cleaning dirty surfaces with stencils, detergent, and a high powered pressure washer.
Reverse graffiti does not make use of paint or ink so it is difficult to call it vandalism. In fact, in many areas, it is considered legal and is known as “streetbranding”. Streetbranding has been used by corporations such as Smirnoff, Microsoft, and others in their advertising campaigns.
UK artist, Paul Curtis (aka Moose), is a pioneer of reverse graffiti and has been working for the last ten years to perfect his craft. In 2008, Curtis teamed up with Green Works to make San Francisco’s Broadway tunnel a little more beautiful (see the video below).
At times, Curtis has been in the press for being a vandal but no one has ever been able to make a case against him because as he says, “No one owns the dirt.”
For more information about Paul Curtis, visit the Reverse Graffiti Project online. For more information on reverse graffiti, visit the Environmental Graffiti website.