What Should You Do If You Want to Create Street Art? [Video]


Street art is part of the culture in many cities. It ranges from common graffiti sprayed by vandals, to beautiful public art commissioned by building owners and cities, to advertising paid for by corporations.

Larry Bodine

In a video report, Lawyers.com Editor-in-Chief Larry Bodine discusses a wide range of street art and the legal issues that often arise.

About 80% of graffiti is “tagger” graffiti, sprayed on walls by suburban teenagers, according to Keep America Beautiful. Kids do it for fame, rebellion and self-expression – and it’s illegal. A city like Chicago spends over $6 million a year to clean up graffiti.

But public art is considered culturally enriching and socially desirable. It can include guerilla sculptures, sticker art and street posters too. Legal street art has made its way into the mainstream art, like the iconic “Hope” poster from 2008 Obama campaign, which was created by street artist Shepard Fairley. The works of the British street artist Banksy have been sold at auction for $600,000, and his artwork is sought by collectors.

What should you do if you want to create street art? For private property, get permission from the owner and make sure you have a written contract. Among other things, spell out who owns the copyright to the artwork.  You don’t want to find that prints are being made of your artwork and that you don’t own the rights.

Be sure that the city allows property owners to display art on their walls. In some cities it is illegal for landowners to allow any graffiti on their walls if it’s visible from any other property. In other cases you’ll need to obtain a permit.

Check with the local or state commission for the arts, and determine if the government is requesting proposals to create works for public places. You could get paid handsomely for artwork that would otherwise be considered a crime.

If you want more information on street art, check out Wooster Collective. The website is the best destination to find videos, lectures and lists of street artists, with links to their professional websites.


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