Winning the Graffiti Fight

MINBID Co-Founder, Jamie Law, Talks to Metro News about Graffiti in YEG

METRO NEWS

City officials say the amount of graffiti is down in Edmonton, but one former street artist says efforts to wipe it out are futile.

“The war on graffiti will never be won,” said Jamie Law, who’s now a tattoo artist. “As long as human beings have been able to mark the walls that surround them or their bodies, they have, since the beginning of time and it will never end.”

The city’s Capital City Clean Up group’s 2015 audit recorded 977 ‘incidents’ of graffiti, down from 1,071 in 2014 and down 50 per cent since 2010.

But Law said he expects those numbers to go up next year due to the discontinuation of two free graffiti walls.

The city installed the walls in 2014 as part of the Open Source Street Art Pilot Project, but officials argued they were expensive to maintain and took them down at the end of March, saying they did not decrease graffiti in the surrounding areas as intended.

“It’s a place for people to do it and a place for the youth to learn in a safe environment under mentorship programs. I don’t know why a city wouldn’t embrace that,” Law said.

“Especially a city like Edmonton that can get down in the dumps about being pretty square and beige and dirty half the year, and frozen half the year. Come on man, let us be colourful.”

More than half the city’s graffiti was found in the neighbourhoods of Strathcona,downtown and McCauley – the latter of which actually saw a 159 per cent increase.

The audit blames 10 graffiti artists, known only by their aliases, for 20 per cent of all graffiti.

Capital City Clean Up manager Don Belanger said numbers are down thanks in part to better reporting by property owners and citizens, as well as city programs reaching out to young people in schools and community groups with anti-graffiti messaging.

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BY THE NUMBERS

81: Percentage of graffiti created on private property, versus 17 per cent on city assets and 2 per cent on government assets

93.3: Percentage of all graffiti found in the audit that was text only, with no picture

The audit observed 418 different taggers, compared to 400 in 2014

TOP 5 TAGGERS

Da es (accounted for 4.9% of all tags in 2015)
Rush (3.6%)
Case (2.8%)
Sem (1.9%)
Cake (1.6%)