Montreal has the distinction of being the most “bombed-out” graffiti capital. “Bombing” in the graffiti world refers to the act of vandalising property with one’s signature or logo. “Bombing”-type graffiti can manifest itself in many different forms, but always happens illegally. There are basically three forms of graffiti: 1. Tagging which is the simplest and earliest form of modern graffiti, a tag consists of a stylised signature – commonly executed with spray-paint or markers and its sub-category, scratching – markings on glass. 2. Free style, elaborate letterings and images with bright, intense colours. 3. Political Statements.
The art is driven by the young, mainly-male hip hop and rap generation. Energetic and colourful, the jagged thrusts and complex signature-like images echo throughout the works. Although there are municipal fines if one is caught, the desire to create a mural overrides the penalty. One graffiti artist I interviewed said, “ some people just go and do stuff during the day and no one gives them trouble because they assume it’s all legal..other people go at nite because it’s harder to be seen..” I also asked him about equipment and speed and he said, “sometimes you can carry stuff in your pockets.. sometimes people show up in cars that are packed so they can do huge murals..”.
Montreal has six free walls – walls on buildings designated by the city as legal graffiti spots. However there is a general negative reaction against “illegal” graffiti, in particularly, tagging and scratching – which is costly to merchants and residents. Recently, the City of Montreal has launched a million dollar anti-graffiti campaign to clean up the walls and this to be finished by the fall of 2005. Excluding tagging and scratching, considering the quality of the images found around the city, the money spend on this purge seems rather excessive. What we see in the following photos is not just scribbling on walls but an art form.