EGOTRIP. The influence of Social Media on Graffiti

Bachelor Thesis, 2016

89 Pages, Grade: A-


First of all, may Nord, Goma and Banc rest in peace, with all of my respect to them who
died in early December 2015 doing graffiti, and whose death had such an impact on my
I would like to thank Maya Oppenheimer and Mark Ingham, who have guided me through
this process of writing a thesis and showed support when I lacked confidence on my topic. I
would also like to thank Mig and Alien who had such a contribution and shared so much inside
knowledge with me over the last few months. I would like to thank Risko, Patrícia Gonçalves and
Lopes de Oliveira for their help and for letting me interview them, which interviews had a great
impact on this thesis. And lastly I would like to thank to Carmen Marina Contreras, who beside of
keeping me company through the long hours of library was always available to give me an
opinion whenever I needed one.

What is the influence of social media on graffiti? Through this thesis I try to answer that,
basing it on Portuguese train bombing, an illegal form of graffiti performed on trains and subway
cars. In order to explore this subject further I have looked at diverse fonts and forms of research,
conducting four interviews, reading books about the matters, watching documentaries,
exploring social networks and reading different articles.
At first, I explore the history of graffiti on a worldwide context and then in the Portuguese
context. The next two chapters explain what has social media given and taken away from
graffiti. Ending then in a brief analysis of everything I refer through the main body of this thesis
and speculating about the future of graffiti.

`Graffiti is not vandalism but a very beautiful crime'.
-Bando (1983)

Around August someone, who is
going to be kept anonymously, took me
to my very first experience with graffiti, he
wanted me to understand more about what
really is graffiti. So I walked alongside with
him to the spot. At first he left me behind
hiding and went to check and control the
situation around it and to make sure that it
would be ok to proceed. I had a million of
emotions at the same time, I can barely
describe it by words; it is a mix of feeling at
the same time, you feel a sort of excitement
but you also feel really sick, the whole thing
was, if I could say,
overwhelming. He then came back to pick
me up and he told me we could go, so he
silently prepared everything and shook his
cans hoping that no one could hear us, then
we started walking towards the train. Trains
never felt that big, you feel completely
minuscule compared to those massive metal
giants. So I just sat there, observing him
writing my name on a train for the next hour
and a half, I was fascinated by everything,
every little detail of what he was doing while
I could barely move myself, nervously
shivering to even the smallest sound. But he,
however, was so confident and even though
we were sharing the same physical space he
was in a completely different universe. So it
is when he finishes it and walks to me asking
me what did I think of it that I understood; it
was indeed a very beautiful crime.
A weird feeling of nostalgia then
absorbed me as I would most likely never
see that train again, and I was madly in love
with it. That was the moment I was
truly able to comprehend the importance of

documenting graffiti, I wanted my name to
be eternal on that train, and the only way I
had of being so was to have a picture of that
train. He explained me that he has strict
policies about having pictures of what he
does being shared on social media; so he
told me that I could not upload it on my
networks. I respected but when months later
I saw it being uploaded by other instagram
accounts I confronted him with it and asked
him why could they and I could not. He told
me that it could never be traced back to us if
was posted by other people, and then kept
very vague about it, not explaining fully how
did the whole thing work.
That whole experience left me
wondering what is the influence of social
media on graffiti, why do people share proof
an illegal action on social media and what
were their own rules about sharing content
online. Which motivated me to explore
it further, and at first I took it merely as a
personal research rather than looking at it as
a project. Being that curious and fascinated
about the subject, I decided to abandon my
first proposal for this thesis that was
something like: what was the influence of
the developments and evolutions of the
media, over the last 500 hundred years, on
the elite power; which I had by then
completely lost the interest on and
realized it was too big of a subject to write
on 10.000 words. So I decided to gave a
purpose to the research I had done by then,
looking at graffiti on social media, in
platforms such as blogs, Facebook, YouTube
and Instagram and take it further than that
point. So from all of that, I started working
towards the answer of `what is the influence
of social media on graffiti?'
In order to do so I have explored
different platforms on social media where
graffiti is uploaded and how do people
interact with this content, then I started
looking at the history behind graffiti and
from here, I read articles and books about
graffiti and about the media in order to
explore a rather theoretical part of the
matter. After this, I did four interviews: with
Risko, with CP, with Alien and Mig and lastly
with PSP:
Portuguese train bombing, painting from
1994 up until today;
and it is the company that runs most of the
national rail lines;
they agreed to be interviewed at the same
time as in a conversation rather than a more
formal interview;
By the time I was working on those
interviews three young graffiti writers died,
so the constant information and attention
on graffiti per part of the media has gave me
some research material and allowed me to
explore how do the `outsiders' react to graffiti
and plus, giving me access to information
that otherwise I would have to had struggled
way further to get.

Through my research I changed my thesis research question and structure multiple times,
at first I wanted to look at pros and cons of social media within graffiti, however once I started
researching more I came to realize that the definition of pros and cons depends on the observ-
ers point of view. So, at last I decided I wanted to take an analysis on the influence of social
media within the graffiti movement. However, the topic sounds a bit to big and therefore I
narrowed it down to base my thesis on Portuguese train bombing, one of the illegal types of
graffiti. I decided about Portuguese graffiti as I felt the need to relate my topic with my home
country, which would allow me to have more content and to write on a more personal level in
some matters.

In order to answer to my research
question I divided my thesis in three main
paragraphs: #GraffitiHistory,
#TrainBombing and #VandalsInControl.
Each of them demonstrates a gather of
information in an attempt to explain what is
and has been the influence of social media
on graffiti. The three chapters are written in
different perspectives and presenting the
reader with three different main points on
how has and is graffiti influenced by social
On the first chapter I present the
research I did on the history of graffiti. I will
first analyze the impact that the media has
been having on graffiti all through history
and then will introduce a short history of
graffiti in the Portuguese context. This first
chapter is mainly focused on how graffiti has
developed through the media and what has
been the impact of the media on the growth
and spread of graffiti all over the world. The
chapter then concludes on the most recent
events and important dates of graffiti and
the media to then narrate the second
chapter of this thesis.
The second chapter talks about what
has been the positive effect that social
media has brought to graffiti movement and
how different is graffiti nowadays because of
social media. The chapter analyses
communication and how social media is
present in everyone's life, which would not
exclude graffiti writers. On the first
paragraphs there is an analysis on how social
media has influenced the way that writers
can communicate and how social media
has provided them with a bigger audience
than the one that the pioneers of graffiti
could reach. The chapters after reflect on the
quantity of information that it is now
accessible to writers, how there is the
possibility to observe and explore graffiti
without a geographic limitation. Those same
chapters first analyse on how that has gave
endless sources of inspiration and creativity
to the writers nowadays, which allowed the
movement to develop certain styles in ways
that would not have been possible without
the access to this number of information.
After that I explain what are the most
common types of social media accounts
that one can access about graffiti, explaining
differences between them and what are the
differences between those who are
behind each one of them. I then conclude
the chapter analyzing the effects that this
has brought to graffiti, and how the same
content that gives so much to graffiti can
also bring downsides to it.
Third chapter then analyzes the
vulgarization of the movement through
social media, explaining that allowing
anyone to have access to information that
writers once tried to keep in secret can
threaten certain aspects within graffiti. It first
explores the access of that kind of
information from the part of authorities and
how that is used and ending then on how
does general public react to graffiti. The
paragraphs following develop on how
nowadays is difficult to create something

original, which applying to graffiti takes
away all the creativity and uniqueness that
once was so characteristic to certain aspects
of graffiti. The last paragraphs of this chapter
explore the current comparison to street art
and how it is usually associated with graffiti,
exploring what does that imply to graffiti.
Through those chapters I intend to
explain further what has been the impact
and influence that social media had upon
graffiti. Exploring through what has
social media given and taken away from the
movement, how has the movement
mutated over the last years in relation to
social media. To the conclusion there will be
a briefly and short analysis of all the content
I mentioned before and speculating on what
does the future of graffiti looks like in
I have inspired myself in Subway Art
for the design, trying to create a more
modern version with the screenshots that I
have displayed in some pages. The
typefaces I have chosen are inspired from
London Underground, Cabin that is a similar
font to the one used by London
Underground and Subway Ticker which
relates to the electronic display used in the
carriages to indicate the destination. All of
the design used is very related to graffiti and
trains, which is a big part of my topic,
including screenshots, which I believe it
makes a subtle connection between social
media and graffiti. I have designed the
table of contents to look like a subway map,
which was very inspired on the
infographic designed by GraffitiKnowHow,
All of my content has diverse inspirations
from classic books of graffiti.

Excerpt out of 89 pages


EGOTRIP. The influence of Social Media on Graffiti
University of the Arts London - London College of Communication
BA (Hons) Graphic and Media Design
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
18795 KB
Social Media, Graffiti, Trains, Portuguese, Street Art, Trains Bombing, Graffiti Writer, Art, Design, Graphic Design, Urban art, Instagram, Facebook, Underground, Vandalism, Media, History, egotrip
Quote paper
Joana Sofia Correia Dias (Author), 2016, EGOTRIP. The influence of Social Media on Graffiti, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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