Street art has been for ages. Even cave drawings can be considered as street art, hence, been here for ages. People do it for a lot of reasons, one of them being, to tell a story without words. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so imagine what all the street art in the world can tell. Street art can range from basic spray paint projects to next-level projects that take days to finish and sometimes take more than one person to accomplish. In some countries though, street art is illegal due to the fact that it is considered vandalism. In Malaysia, it used to be illegal until 2010, KUL Sign Festival was introduced as a way to let artists exhibit their skills without law involvement, thus, being able to bring so many bring colors to the city that was duller back then. Nowadays, when you walk or drive around KL, you can see street art everywhere you turn. Even in smaller states like Penang and Melaka, beautiful and meaningful street art and be found anywhere. These street art projects can be photographed too with yourself standing in front of the piece or just the piece itself and be kept as sweet memories. Plus, in case of an error with your files, you could store those pictures in an Alpha backup system for safety measures.
Despite that, local law enforcers are still quite strict on who they let do any sort of street art. First of all, you’d have to have a permit, which is reasonable since the art might be done on private property. Thus, if you don’t have a permit, you will most likely be sentenced a fine. Not only that, law enforcers are very selective too about who they let have a permit or what sort of street art is accepted. Said law enforcers justify this by saying that street art should be safe for public viewing and also for children’s eyes, like something beneficial for society instead of one’s genuine style of art. That does not make it theirs (the artist) anymore. It makes it art for society, which is something totally different except for the artists who genuinely enjoy creating art as such. However, most street art artists are rarely the ones to be following rules or restrictions, and there are so many other reasons that street artists make street art. Some art that has been created and considered controversial or inappropriate have even been covered up with white paint, or basically whitewashed, by authorities.
The images above show how a mural was covered up by authorities because it was viewed as a widespread crime. The message was actually to depict how crime rates have increased at the time in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Another artist actually added a painting of a policeman behind the mugger to salvage the art from getting whitewashed, however, authorities still painted over it.
Street artists find that creating street art is actually a way to have a voice, saying or even shouting something to society without even using their voice but their skills, to bring awareness and to say things that people are usually scared to say. This is their way of speech. Their way to throw an opinion out about something taboo or controversial in our society.
Plus, some street artists prefer to keep their identities hidden. You might know some who are secretly creating street art on the down-low. These artists could even be working in the line of management accounting for local accounting services in Malaysia and be living the double life after working hours. Thus, this could also be one of the many reasons they create street art. To get away from the hectic work life and stressful workload. To have a voice other than speaking in meetings or during normal conversations. And at times, law enforcers get in the way of them to be able to create what they want to create.
Not to say that they shouldn’t care at all, but loosen the reigns a bit and let people create within reason. Creators in any field should have the freedom to create what they want, within reason, and not have it to be painted over. Both creators and law enforcers have to cooperate so we can continue making our country colorful.