Graffiti is one of the most controversial art forms. Made most famous by vandals, it tends to be used mostly in a somewhat territorial defacing of property with motivations varying as much as any other art form, if not more. It is one of our most ancient arts, with cave paintings dating back at least 32,000 years, many of them less socially acceptable than the standard bison image that comes to mind.
Reverse graffiti is the art of removing grime or graffiti in such a way that it leaves a message behind. The artist can vary all the way from that kid who scrawls ‘wash me’ with their finger on all the dirty cars they see, to masters like Scott Wade (top) and Alexandre Orion (video below).
As you can see from the video, the legality of reverse graffiti is still leaving officials scratching their heads. Are they really going to arrest you for cleaning the subway? As with anything that irritates people or costs them money (£750,000 to (finish) cleaning the Wills Memorial Building in Bristol) expect them to manage to trump up some kind of charge if you get caught making a nuisance of yourself.
Graffiti writers are not real villains. Real villains consider the idea of breaking in someplace, not stealing anything and then leaving behind a painting of your name in four foot high letters the most retarded thing they ever heard of. -Banksy
Update: Here’s another good one: