Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

Understanding What Is Urban Art Cultural Studies Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Cultural Studies
Wordcount: 3201 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

Reference this

Over the past few years I have taken an ongoing interest within urban art. The definition of urban art within the art establishment was used to collectively identity artists’ that were involved in street and graffiti art, therefore coming into one category of urban art. The term ‘urban’ means ‘from the city’ hence collectively identifying art created by artists experience within city life.

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

Urban art has become a vast expanding movement. The diversity of different styles and approaches are becoming a key factor within the design practice. In my opinion majority of urban art is influential, as it is an expression of an opinion/ ideal. Therefore as the opinion is self created it makes the work original. Within this discussion I am going to talk about the influences of urban art are changing the way we perceive work, from an individual viewpoint and a corporate view point.

The argument

Within this discussion I am going to write about how urban art can be seen as a parallel to my work through the messages I want to portray. The exploration of the style, setting and use of surroundings will help me justify my work is original and relevant. I am going to analyze an specific artist that has evolved with the times or urban art. There are many different styles with the practice. This gives the practice a lesser constraint to how you work I feel, through the work on the streets to subjective stencils on the comer or a wall. The ever changing influence of urban art allows work form freelance to a corporate level to be original and revenant. Another parallel link from urban art to street can be seen through the arts movement expressionism. How this movement is so similar to the ideals or the modern day urban arts, also this can be seen as foundations to both movements. To show this I am going to discuss certain aspects of the design practice, how certain artists have contributed to the modern evolution and influential styles of urban art. How certain artists have embedded their ideals in their own way.

The main issue is that, is all urban art original and irrelevant? In my opinion I personally think that urban art decrypting a meaning or a message, is original. My decision about his can relate to how society perceives art and so forth. This is mainly from the basis of how urban art can form many opinions and messages. The irrelevancy part of the images depends on the agenda of the art piece itself, mainly urban art was born for radicalists to portray message against the government and political issues.

When it stoped being orgional,

Political activism


To show my work is original and relevant to the current design practice, I will explore the ideals and messages of the urban arts culture and be decrypting an artist that has achieved a high success within urban art.

Also the parallels of how my work and be seen as breaking a new trend for conservation messages, through the production, feelings and association of my self-directed study.

The historical background and ever changing urban art

The start of Urban Art

The start of the urban art movement can be first signified from the 1980’s through the upcoming of graffiti culture, and use of branding identity from the ‘train pieces’ of NYC. Other culture scenes from Hip-Hop were very brand and street culture related. Seeing as the Hip Hop scene were very identity aware wise, their objective was to almost make a name through brands and not to make profit. Therefore bringing around the idea for artists to see themselves as a brand name. However these were not the only two factors to play a part is the uprising of urban art. Punk was the first DIY music culture which brought around a whole new area of creativity. It represented that passion and dedication could produce your own brand. From reading into the background you can see there were many small factors combined that contributes to this movement. A prodigy from the 1980’s can be seen as ‘STUSSY’, Shaun Stussy ‘s own branding. He used his signature from his handcrafted skateboards. Then applied this to t-shirts to make a street branded label. This brand was adopted by many street cultures, and this has become a part of a popular culture within today’s society.

Use of environment

A main aspect is how urban art has evolved through the decades, involving a younger generation of a more city based approach. It has also an extended approach on styles, messages and mediums, this is therefore changing what exactly urban art itself is and what it represents through messages. Through this many ever changing styles and variations of work are produced, and leading towards a new generation producing more and more distinctive and clear works. There also many forms of street art has come about through evolving. They include:

Traditional – These are paintings of murals on public or private property.

Stencil – A homemade design which the majority of the time is produced in cardboard, from this the image can be easily reproduced.

Sticker – Are homemade, and most of the time usually promote political agenda, or an certain issue.

Mosaic – The creating of large images through the use of smaller images.

Video Projection – The use of projectors to project an image onto a surface.

Street Installation – The use of 3-D within everyday objects, to create a new image, this strays away from the conventional street art paintings.

Street art has been classed as a modern day movement, however it can be classed as anything on the street, walls and surroundings. Many believe that every era in history has their own sense of urban art.

“Graffiti can be anything from simple scratch marks, to writings in pen, or large wall murals with paint”

This meaning that graffiti can be marked back to the dawn of time, from the cavemen’s simple markings on the wall. The cavemen drew images on walls in their home that would describe a story of a battle, or themselves, almost like a personalization or branding. Graffiti has been found within ancient Greece, preserved in the ruins of Pompeii.

“Evidence of random writings on walls structures that back between the 1st century BC to 4th century AD have been found in what is now modern day Syria, Jordan and Iraq. These writings were on topics of religion, politics, romance”

From this I decrypt that even though in the past 30 years street art has seen to be a more of a political, controversial movement, it seems that a similar trend was used. I feel as though there is a collective originally through a background of collective identity. The juxtaposition of it all would be seen as we are now branding an individual identity were they were branding collective identity’s.

The nature of urban art, relies on the environment, the art utilizes the surroundings to make a piece of work individual. The surroundings give an extra feel and evokes emotion within certain urban arts pieces.


The art movement expressionism can be linked to urban art though the sole meaning behind it. It was formed for artists that wanted to express their emotions and feelings through pieces of work. I want to explore the similarities behind the parallels from expressionism and urban art. They both something to portray/ interact with the viewer.

As the urban arts movement has evolved, it has mostly become more a trend/ brand rather than artist messages. This can be seen through the commercial of certain street artists like Banksy, Paul Inset, ect. From the rang of different styles and messages street artists have used, wouldn’t this then make political awareness with the urban arts too saturated.

Political awarness

Many people would disagree with urban art being a distinctive 20th century movement, and see the whole style as vandalism, destruction of property. This has become one of the largest debates associated with urban art. Some debates run from ‘Glorifying art or vandalism?’. Leading from this others believe that all types of street are mainly vandalism due to graffiti tagging from gangs to mark their territory and so on.

“While some people see street art as vandalism, others see it as a form of free creative expression”

There are many views on this topic, some against and some for. The whole debate is wide open, and formed from the society’s opinions. This ongoing debate is internationally spread and ever changing through new work and so forth.

The influence of Shepard Fairey

Who is Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey rose to fame from 1989, with is ‘ANDRE THE GIANT HAS A POSSE 7′ 4″, 520 lb’ sticker campaign, this particular campaign is fused with street art and viral marketing. The design started out an random stencil when he was still studying, but it has become known all over the world. From this point of his lifeline no one would have guessed that he would have become such a major influential part within the modern urban arts movement. Due to copyright and plagiarism laws, the campaign has now changed to ‘OBEY GIANT’. The style used to create the imagery were stickers, stencils and paint slogans. He is often spoke about of being the most important benefactor that has shaped the way urban art is.

Find Out How UKEssays.com Can Help You!

Our academic experts are ready and waiting to assist with any writing project you may have. From simple essay plans, through to full dissertations, you can guarantee we have a service perfectly matched to your needs.

View our services

Obama Campaign

Another campaign which Shepard Fairey is known about is the ‘Obama Hope’ campaign. The image produced itself is appealing and attractive.”… achieved the rare feat of becoming a visual emblem of a moment in American history.” (Iggy Pop, 2010) Iggy Pop here describes as how the campaign has become almost to say a patriotic symbol of the American culture. The style of the work makes the work clear and inspiring, through the use of colours and position of key elements.

Leading on from this is how messages and how influential the piece has become, still on the political theme, the main ideals was to radicalise the way Barak Obama was seen to the nation. “I wanted to make an image that deracialized Obama, where he’s not a black man, but a nationalized man.” (Shepard Fairey, 2010) The poster has become one of the most expanding viral pieces, also decrypting Obama in an urban stylistic fashion.

How he has influenced society and me

Form the nature of designs to the meaning each portray, Shepard Fairey has produced some majorly iconic work. Even so his work is praised by the masses of being the most influential pieces of work we have seen in decades.

“Shepard Fairey has made two artworks that have literally changed the world – or at least, substantially affected public discourse, That’s two more than most artists can claim.” – (Ben Davis, 2009)

The catalyst movement from the first campaign to the Obama campaign provides such an impact on today’s society, the scope of the force within society now has an impact for future generations. As stated from the quote, not many artists can say they have an impact on world issues through their work. This as a sense provides a radical movement, which is still ever changing.

The use of street art to raise awareness/influence

Shepard can be seen as the first catalyst to the urban arts movement, however there are many more artists that can rain in the spotlight. As Shepard is seen as an brand identity other street artists cat under individualism, artists such as Banksy. Starting out with controversial messages and stencils on the streets, Banksy can now be seen as society owned brand, through the influence street art has on younger generations.

“He’s a good friend and a tremendous source of inspiration; he’s The Great Communicator of our time, and the most important living artist in the world.” (Shepard Fairey, 2008)

This quote is based on ‘Banksy’, I agree with the statement as he has become a communicator and almost an educator for younger generations. I feel this applies to myself in a broad scene, as I was influenced by urban artists, especially ‘Banksy’ as his work always seemed to have a meaning, a message to portray.

From this research process I feel as urban art is another way to express yourself, by using buildings and surroundings to create new meanings.

Breaking the trend

Shepard Fairey has almost broken most the ideals to set up this modern day urban arts movement. His main objective can be seen as art that can be seen anywhere that is objective to advertising. Thus this an be seen within the ‘ANDRE THE GIANT HAS A POSSE’ campaign. The art work was originally produced within his hometown as a joke to the other skateboarders. When people see this work around they think its an advertisement. Making it a bizarre piece if art that is ironically places within different parts of the city. Shepard Fairy has managed to invoke the viewer, to question their reality and feelings.

With the examples of his work I feel that Shepard Fairey has revolutionised a new meaning of the movement. “Fairey reverses a revolution achieved by Warhol, along with Roy Lichtenstein.” (Peter Schjeldahl, 2008) Throughthis quote we can see how he is compared to iconic artisits throughout the world.

Self directed module and exploration of my style

Awf, link to self directed ect

My professional practice was spent at a conservation site in Tenerife with the Atlantic Whale Foundation (AWF). I gained an insight in how illustration and graphics are used within certain areas and also abroad.

The experience was priceless and the knowledge gained helped me thing about awareness issues around the world. From this I wanted to produce artwork that raises different questions and form many different opinions, this has been my basis. Through this the influence of urban artists have made me realize that there are many different forms of art that can be used, not just the obvious spray paint and stencils. I like to think that urban art can evolve to a higher plane, maybe through an technologic approach.

When it came around for me to give an idea for the self directed module, I decided to base the brief on where I went for work placement within my second year, at the AWF (Atlantic Whale Foundation). I set myself the task to raise awareness of the messages the AWF are trying to convey. Through research into the charity I found that their main objective is to raise the message of marine captivity, their main site is based in Tenerife where volunteers come and go. I decided to based a series of 2 sets of 3 posters that portray the message itself in a witty, bold, intricate and also an involvement way.

I thought the best way to raise awareness of the work would be to relate an urban and controversial style. As the majority of the urban scene is artist conveying the messages they want to be heard in a radical way. Within this project I wanted to create a poster pack that would involve the audience more than just looking blankly at an image

Exploring street art (inspired by Shepard Fairey) link back …

Through the design process of the project, I have used urban art an influence for the foundations of the designs. Looking through certain imagery and pieces of urban art, some were inspiring, where as others to me didn’t make much sense. However this is the general broadness of urban art, as its generates multiple different opinions and feelings.

I took a particular interest into Banksy and Paul Insect campaigns, as they have a huge sense of involvement and creativity, also a broad statement. Through this research I learnt how impactful simple stencils can be. For example the analysis in (put in sub chapter reference here), __. Other artists the I took a particular interest too, were ‘Shepard Fairey’ and ‘Mr. Brainwash’.

The process of developing ideas

The ideals of the brief were to design a series of posters that could either be mass produced on a limited run, or generally flyers that can be posted around to raise awareness for the charity. I wanted to keep clear away from images of deceased marine animals. Thus I came to the idea to create stencils of the animals in dark scenarios. I came up with certain designs, the first one was a dolphin hanging itself in a noose, and the second one was an marine animal that has been dressed in a jail outfit.

I decided to follow a traditional route for my designs, from creating each poster aspect. I created stencils for each design I had, some of these didn’t turn out the way I hoped for them to. As the images on their own are striking and carry bold statements, I felt the need to create a contrasted background that’s creates a dynamic feel. At first I had street walls, billboards, however these weren’t striking enough. Therefore I went with a more cheerful sense of imagery for the backgrounds, and having the stencils on top.

To further develop my designs I thought about composition, layout of the images within the environment, and detail. Most urban art styles are widely intricate, but I wanted to do the opposite and also have the same impact without over crowding the image.

Evalutaion of my owrk – does it work/message portrayed

Overall with the work, I feel the messages work, as it creates mixed feelings. The main agenda was to create the sense of marine captivity in a striking way. I feel I have proved this through the nature of the work. The images give the viewer a disturbing scene of reality and contemplation.

Within the end the work I had produced was detailed and obscure. By this, the artwork has invoked different feelings and emotions, and almost to question the piece itself.

The objective of the poster campaigns was to invoke emotions with the viewer. Seeing as most conservation charity messages are given a blind eye, or the images being exhausted through the media. We tend to phase out certain images almost like a mind set. The decision to have a urban styled approach helps the conservation charity to have a fresh outlook on the messages. The work provides the option of something new to raise awareness of ideals and goals.



Summarise what you have achieved.

I will summarise my work, saying the pros and cons, has it developed into a unique style and if not, why? This will also be linked to the evidence I gain from the analysis of the artists which I feel are relevant to my own style. I will also have a general idea of how work of this style is acceptable within today society. I will also have a clear visual if there still is room for my style.


Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: