Capping & Toy

There is vandalism, criticism, jealousy and insults within the street art scene. What do you expect? Peace, love and mung beans baby? It is the street and there is no control about what happens to the work on the streets. Accusations that another artist’s work is “toy” are a common insult in Melbourne. Happy made fun of this insult in a series of paste-ups of toys calling other toys “toy”.

Happy, Toys, Melbourne

Capping, that is tagging or painting on top of a work of street art. The question of damaged egos of street arts due to capping was raised at the artist’s talk at the Melbourne Stencil Festival 2009 (27/9/09). Capping and or other signs of disrespect tend to disturb the friends and fanes of the artist more than the artists. At the artist talk HaHa said he particularly enjoyed seeing one his robot stencils altered with his signature ‘HaHa’ painted over and the street number painted in. “I go with whatever.” He said with a big smile. Any attention after being noticed is just more attention for the artist.

Originally those who don’t think that they represent the core of street art will dismiss a writer as an amateur “toy”. At other times on the streets of Melbourne this insult is used by those jealous of the artist’s success. There is always someone who will attack an artist showing any sign of success.

Then there is the dumb vandalism of street art, where pieces crossed out or an aerosol line in an obnoxious colour wiggles across it. There are vandalism crews that use tags to obliterate graffiti. “More worrying is the ‘CTCV’ (or Cops That Catch Vandals’ vigilante campaign designed as a smear to Graffiti artworks and excellent pieces to dismay public interest in the artform. The rail operators and Victoria Police deny involvement; but the fact remain they are the perpetrators of such an insidious campaign. Somewhat like the person that went around tagging ‘Steve Beardon’; funny -but immature at best.” Rock the Boat commented on my entry Anti-Graffiti. Rock the Boat is not the first person to link the CTCV to employees of the suburban transport system or the police taking vigilante action where they couldn’t legally stop graffiti along Melbourne’s train lines. There are other common capping tags, but I don’t want to give them any fame for their vandalism. Is senseless destruction better or worse than destruction based on jealousy?


About Mark Holsworth

Writer and artist Mark Holsworth is the author of two books, The Picasso Ransom and Sculptures of Melbourne. View all posts by Mark Holsworth

2 responses to “Capping & Toy

  • Bert

    First of all nice post. Secondly, i think that without capping and slashing of art works graffiti would not have evolved as much over the past thirty years,or be as appealing to some artists. Capping a piece (of graffiti) for example creates a clean slate, anyone has the right to that damaged piece of wall after the previous artwork has been destroyed, this allows for other artists to show what they can do, and sticks with graffiti bieng an always changing artform.

  • Carey

    haha, ironic considering I took a photo highlighting the tagged pieces and came across your post. Well said

    No. You're toy!

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