Bay Area Street Art Explained

Experts talk about the difference between graffiti and street art

By Sajid Farooq
|  Wednesday, Aug 5, 2009  |  Updated 7:11 AM PDT
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Bay Area Street Art Explained

unaesthetic on Flickr

San Francisco Street Art gets placed on a window sill in the City.

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Some of the best street artists don't need to create a piece for a presidential campaign, like Shepard Fairey, to do what they do. They do it for the love of art.

Just ask Steve Rotman and Chris Brennan, authors of "Bay Area Graffiti" and "San Francisco Street Art." The people at the I Heart Street Art blog did and found out how San Francisco's scene ranks and what exactly the difference between graffiti and street art is.

"Graffiti is something that's done on the spot, with the traditional tools," Brennan said. "Street art is generally premeditated. It's done in the studio and brought to the street, or it's done with the intention of being installed, and it's not so much concerned with the fame and the game that goes along with graffiti."

The two street art experts tagged the San Francisco scene as bold for its willingness to try different things and its use of pop culture in its pieces.

"There's a little more of a quirkiness here," Rotman said. "And risk taking with what people are willing to put up. People don't get clowned on as much if you do something weird. So that's kinda neat, 'cause you see more variety."

And while San Francisco commissions some artists to come out of the dark and get paid to tag vacant storefronts, the experts have an idea on why there has been a recent rash of crackdowns on street artists.

"There are plenty of people out there that just assume graffiti is gang related in some way, or it's the same people that are out there robbing people, or whatever," Brennan said. " Probably has a lot to do with what's-his-name running for governor."

We're pretty sure he is not talking about Jerry Brown.

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