Dublin’s Graffiti: ART or VANDALISM?

Graffiti in Dublin isn’t hard to find. However, a mutual opinion on whether Dublin’s graffiti is art or vandalism may well be.

Dublin’s Graffiti: ART or VANDALISM?

In Dublin’s Fair City, you can find graffiti varying from large-scale commission murals to underground artists’ tags around the city.

It is perhaps this broad definition of graffiti that adds to the contentious art versus vandalism debate that surrounds Dublin’s graffiti.

Whatever the opinion, it is undeniable that the city is home to some truly incredible street artists and artworks alike!

Dublin’s graffiti – the logistics

The logistics of Dublin's graffiti.
Credit: commonswikimedia.org

There are legal graffiti spaces across the city. Artists can find spaces and walls to create art and express themselves across Dublin. However, there has been criticism surrounding the accessibility of these facilities.

The graffiti of Dublin has become a tourist attraction throughout the city. Iconic street art locations across Dublin, like the colourful walls of the iconic Temple Bar, attract tourists, bloggers, and pedestrians from all over.

There have been many incentives by the council to transform supposedly ‘ugly’ parts of the city into something nice to look at.

For example, an incentive by Dublin City Council saw grey traffic boxes transformed into bright and beautiful art pieces by local talent.

However, illegal graffiti has cost the city a pretty penny. Dublin City Council reportedly spent €1 million in 2017 removing illegal graffiti, including public murals that weren’t commissioned.

Dublin City Council operate a ‘Report Graffiti’ service that promises to remove the graffiti within 48 hours of a report.

Recognised talent – one of the city’s most talented street artists

One of the cities most talented street artists.
Credit: Flickr/ lusciousblopster

Dublin graffiti artist ‘Maser’ has gained worldwide recognition for the provocative typography murals that he has been creating since he began painting in the 1990s.

Maser, infamous for his political ‘repeal the 8th’  mural, is also the genius behind the council-commissioned ‘U are Alive’ mural near Camden Street.

More than art? – a celebration of the city’s heritage

Is Dublin's graffiti more than art?
Credit: Instagram/ @shanesutton_art

Dublin graffiti artist Shane Sutton immortalised two of Dublin’s most renowned literary greats, James Joyce and Brendan Behan, via his large-scale, black-and-white murals of the two Dublin legends.

The Summerhill murals are often scrutinised as being obstructive to the area. However, supporters argue that street artworks like Sutton’s celebrate our culture and remember our past.

A contentious debate – the street-artist collective striving for new legislation

It comes with a contentious debate.
Credit: Instagram/ @bianca_gege

Subset is the collective behind some of Dublin’s most impressive and recognisable murals. Together, they are fighting for more accessible legislation for public artworks.

Like their beautiful and thought-provoking mural ‘Horseboy’ in Smithfield, their murals are created upon public and private property, which has caused tension between the artist, the city council and the property owners.

Subset has removed over 35 artworks due to legislation conflicts and Dublin City Council dropping a legal case against the collective only last year.

A call for reformation – the Public Art Mural Bill 2022

A call for reformation for Dublin's graffiti.
Credit: Instagram/ @William Murphy

Subset believes that graffiti is public art and not vandalism. Their ethos is that public art is “for the public by the public”. Thus, it shouldn’t be capitalised on by local authorities.

This led to them proposing to the Oireachtas the ‘Public Art Mural Bill’ that is currently in stage two of the eleven phase process towards being enacted.

Love the Lanes – a Dublin City Council’s initiative to brighten up the city’s alleys and laneways

Love the Lanes at Temple Bar.
Credit: @allen_vorth_morion / Instagram

The most iconic and beloved staple of this street art initiative is the ‘Love Lane’ in the bustling Temple Bar area.

In what used to be known as Crampton Court, you’ll find the romantic walls of ‘Love Lane’ dotted with romantic tributes between couples, poetry, portraits and plenty of lovely artworks.

‘Love Lane’ is one of the many authorised graffiti spaces that add character and charm to the city. It’s one of the best spots for incredible colour and graffiti.

A tagging endemic – underground graffiti artists or vandals?

Credit: Flickr/ William Murphy

Underground street artists are known to leave ‘tags’ upon walls, under bridges and upon overpasses overnight.

A large percentage of Dublin’s graffiti is tags, and lots of locals find these to be an eyesore. Furthermore, property developers believe that it depreciates the value of residential areas.

A ‘Don’t Tag’ campaign was introduced in the city in 2017, highlighting that the practice was a punishable offence.

You will find tags on almost every corner of the city. This results in a split opinion on the nature of street art in Dublin.

Graffiti in Dublin is often inspiring and uplifting and brightens up the city streets. However, you will also find graffiti in the form of ‘vandalism’ too. This is what fuels the debate about the nature of Dublin’s graffiti.

Whatever your opinion may be, we recommend you check out some of the wonderful public artworks that you can find across Dublin on your next trip there!

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