Interest in graffiti as an art form is increasing within the community of Knox, Community Safety Officer from the Knox City Council, Samantha Spooner said in an interview last Friday.
“With the community embracing tattoo art, young women are interested in that as artists themselves as well in more substantial numbers and there has been a similar trend with graffiti writing and art, mural production,” said Ms Spooner.
Acting Coordinator Community Safety and Development from the Knox City Council, Lisette Pine said in the same interview, the Knox council have adopted using legal mural art to combat illegal graffiti which has been an ever present problem in the community. The mural on the tennis club wall at Windermere reserve has decreased the amount of tags on the wall.
“This tennis club wall was continuously tagged all the time… we engaged a mural artist to design a mural that was in keeping with what the pavilion was used for… since we’ve had that mural put up we’ve had about one or two tags in the past two and a half, three years,” Ms Pine said.
However, if murals were to be put up everywhere the purpose would be lost and tagging would increase, she said.
The Knox City Council doesn’t remove all graffiti. They manage graffiti on their property but encourage the community to report graffiti to their customer service team. Their website also offers graffiti management advice.
It costs Knox ratepayers approximately $170,000 annually to clean up illegal graffiti. By engaging with artist to create mural art, the community is saving thousands of dollars annually on clean up, Ms Spooner said.
Ms Pine and Ms Spooner said graffiti that impacts the community the most is offensive, defamatory, racist, sexist, foul language and particularly racial vilification that is targeted.
Constable Travis Forrest from the Rowville Police Service Area said in an interview on Tuesday, the graffiti that makes people feel most unsafe is “offensive graffiti”.
He also said “Youth are normally the ones that are targeted”. To reduce vandalism in the area, police “Target hot spots, heighten patrolling at schools in the holidays” and “make shop owners aware of the problem”.
To reduce vandalism amongst youth Constable Forrest said the difference between art and vandalism should be “implemented through school”.
19 year old, PJ Leitner was once a “tagger”. He said he started at the age of 16 to fit in with his friends and “it seemed harmless”. It was also partly out of boredom, he said. Mr Leitner stopped tagging at 18 because he realised it wasn’t worth the time or money and has found more beneficial ways to occupy himself when he’s bored.
Ms Pine, Ms Spooner and Constable Forrest all said the main reasons behind illegal graffiti are boredom, risk taking, experiential practice and sense of belonging to a group; however, most youth grow out of it.