Reverse graffiti is a form of “temporary graffiti” where the art or message is written into a temporary medium, usually dirt or dust coating a surface such as a wall, sidewalk or car. The paradigm example is when you see a dirty, dusty car and people have made handprints or messages such as “WASH ME” in the dust. It can also be more elaborate–for example, in Portland, Oregon, the tile-covered interior of the Interstate 26 tunnel is typically washed only once a year, and reverse graffiti made in the dust with chalkboard erasers becomes more and more detailed as time goes on. Reverse graffiti is regarded by some as an art form, and is environmentally friendly because it’s temporary, uses no paint or chemicals and can change over time. There are even companies that use reverse graffiti as an advertising medium: for a fee they will etch your company’s logo and message into a stencil and use a pressure-washer to clean a sidewalk or wall in the shape of the stencil.
Reverse graffiti is an art form that uses existing dirt and paint from highly soiled and/or vandalized tunnels, walls, etc. to create art by removing the dirt and paint in patterns rather than using more paint. In the past, cities have battled unwanted graffiti by inviting local artists and communities to create murals. Reverse graffiti, sometimes referred to as environmental graffiti, is different in the sense that the art is crated through the strategic removal of existing materials rather than the addition of new ones that merely cover up the old, unwanted canvas.
Check out the links below for more information about cities that are promoting reverse graffiti, as well as an informative YouTube video about an English reverse graffiti artist’s contributions in San Francisco.
Reverse graffiti is also known as clean graffiti, clean tagging, grime writing, clean advertising, and dust tagging. It is where designs–words and images–are created on dusty, dirty surfaces. The dirt and grime is removed to make the designs. Some businesses are even using to to market themselves and their products, such as Microsoft. It’s kind of become a new way of advertising.
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