How to make the best of graffiti?
December 17, 2012 4:32 PM   Subscribe

Home project: revamping fence graffiti?

I'm visiting my parents for winter break, and on the side of their fence is this lovely, probably gang related graffiti.

It's been there for a few months now. It initially bewildered my parents- they don't live in the best of neighborhoods, but this hasn't happened before. But they refuse to paint over it themselves, just on principle. I was going to do it myself, but before completely painting over it, I'd like to write something witty, funny, or even just paint something just interesting over it. Potentially something that addresses graffiti, in a clever way. I've got a month at home, so I may be able to do a combination of ideas.

How can I make the best out of this, while it lasts? Is it even a good idea?
posted by flying_trapeze to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
Oh! A picture may help
posted by flying_trapeze at 4:32 PM on December 17, 2012

Why escalate needlessly?
As it stands, as soon as you paint it over, the fresh paint is likely to get tagged anyway.

Paint it over with cheap paint, buy a bunch more, and paint and paint and paint everytime it gets tagged.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 4:42 PM on December 17, 2012 [3 favorites]

I would turn every individual letter into a creature, complete with big googly eyeballs and buck teeth and maybe a mustache or something.

Don't spend too much time on it. It's not even good graffiti.
posted by phunniemee at 4:44 PM on December 17, 2012

I sincerely doubt the tagger who left that will understand 'witty' or 'clever': he's just a low-grade vandal with a can of spray paint --- just paint the fence.

As a general rule, it's always best to paint over graffiti as soon as possible; graffiti is like germs --- it multiplies like an infection, so you need to cut it off and clean it up early. Some communities even have laws that give a limited timeframe (such as 'x days') in which to do so. Also, depending on where your parents are, their community might even have a branch of the local government that will do that re-painting for them.
posted by easily confused at 4:46 PM on December 17, 2012 [1 favorite]

I would just paint it over with the original color. Trying to do otherwise may be asking for trouble.
posted by wongcorgi at 4:47 PM on December 17, 2012

Just paint over it. Do not do anything witty or clever with it, that could be interpreted as mocking or disrespectful. You do not know who the original tagger was. They could be a random vandal with a can of paint or they could be a gang member. Needlessly antaganizing them has the potential to escalate things. They may start tagging your parents house instead of their fence. Things may even escalate to violence.

Repaint the fence. If it's tagged again, repaint again. Do not let graffiti stay up for long. Repaint everytime it occurs and tell your parents to do the same.

(source - grew up in a not so great part of town, with plenty of tagging and have been actively involved in an official city anti-gang task force)
posted by Arbac at 5:15 PM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

I live in a neighborhood that has had a problem with graffiti. The way it is dealt with is by painting colorful murals. I know this doesn't seem like it should work--why should vandals respect a mural when they don't respect your property?--but it truly, honestly does. A blank wall, on the other hand, is asking for it.
posted by Violet Hour at 5:25 PM on December 17, 2012

I know this doesn't seem like it should work--why should vandals respect a mural when they don't respect your property?--but it truly, honestly does.

Unfortunately, it works usually but not always. Oakland is currently being plagued by a graffiti crew who ignore the usual "don't tag murals" rule and have destroyed at least three murals that I know of, including the iconic Oaksterdam mural.

Nthing paint over graffiti immediately. If possible, don't let the sun set on it without painting over it.
posted by Lexica at 5:32 PM on December 17, 2012

This is known as a "tag." A territorial marker. I can't say that I recognize who it belongs to (stereotypically, I think, that script is Latin Kings, but it's long since generic), but it is extremely amateurish. Painting over it with another thing that could be construed as a tag (or a "throw-up" which is a tag with more work put into it) could be construed as a territorial threat.

It's most likely to me that it's some idiot 8th grader, but you know the neighborhood better to gauge how likely that is and whether an idiot 8th grader is likely to escalate the issue in some way. Paint over it with flat paint or leave it.
posted by cmoj at 11:32 PM on December 17, 2012

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