Stuck To It.

Something that usually only gets a passing mention in art history is that advances in art and technology are pretty closely linked. One of the most obvious examples is how the invention of the camera led to Impressionism although the invention of the field easel which made it easier for artists to work outside instead of in a studio also helped. It’s something I’ve always had in mind since I heard an art historian mention in passing that a lot of new inventions are first adopted by avant garde artists and then the work of avant garde artists is adopted by advertising. Although we can thank Pop Art, and especially Andy Warhol, for turning advertising into art and he made a mint doing it, causing counterfeiters around the world to slap their foreheads and say, “We were making copies of the wrong thing!” but that’s another story.


Anyway I’ve noticed an interesting thing: decals as graffiti. Most graffiti is painted–well, technically graffiti was scratched into a surface since the term comes from the Italian graffiato, meaning “scratched”, but the term has take on new layers of meaning. As far as I know no one has ever really studied how the development of spray paint led to graffiti as an urban art form which is another case of a technological innovation being adopted by artists. The decals, I think, are becoming prevalent because decal makers have gotten cheap and easy to use and it’s not hard to see the appeal: an artist can produce dozens of identical tags that can be stuck anywhere. Most are small but add a nice detail to lampposts that used to hold photocopied fliers for local bands, but I guess those bands are now mostly using social media platforms to promote themselves, another evolution that’s all part of the state of the art.

8 Comments

  1. Red

    Printing press advanced the art of writing a great deal. Just think if all those copies of Shakespeare’s plays were never printed en masse and sent to high school Lit classes throughout the English speaking world!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Yes! Gutenberg and Caxton get a lot of credit for advancing not just the art of writing but technology, our understanding of history, our way of communicating, and so on, although I understand the Chinese had a printing press a lot earlier so they deserve some recognition too.

      Reply
  2. Kristine @MumRevised

    I spoke to several Graf artists recently… I’m not sure they would call this art. Tagging, yes. It is probably more difficult to paint over it too which means “crap art”–their words not mine, stay around longer.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I can’t tell you how envious I am that you’ve been able to talk to some Graf artists. These decals may be “crap art” although they tend to be rather small and unobtrusive, and I really do like the multi-colored one which I thought nicely, although subtly, brightened up a lamppost.

      Reply
  3. giac mcley

    eh Canada, where dee cals are deckles

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Canada has given the world so much I’m happy to cut the Canucks some slack. Fun fact: the most generous blood donors down in Florida are the Canadian snowbirds. Reserves drop precipitously in the summer when they fly home.

      Reply
  4. Ann Koplow

    All your posts stick, Chris. Thank you.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      All your comments stick with me, and the smiles they give me stick around for a very long time.

      Reply

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