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The Green Life: Clean Graffiti -- Is it Green?

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August 14, 2008

Clean Graffiti -- Is it Green?

Clean advertising could put Coldplay in hot water. Coldplay's controversial advertisements use "reverse graffiti," a process in which images are stenciled onto grimy sidewalks and walls using pressure washers or scrubbers. In other words, the art is cleaned onto the concrete. (Another form of reverse graffiti is the common practice of writing on a dirty windshield with one's finger. While we're most familiar with the classic "wash me" message, some artists have created masterpieces on dirty cars.) Supporters of clean graffiti tout it as a way to draw attention to vehicle emissions and urban grime, but some city officials aren't impressed. Seminal reverse graffiti artist Paul Curtis (a.k.a. "Moose") was charged in Leeds under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act, and Coldplay, who advertised their new record on Montreal's streets, could be facing a $200 fine for advertising on public property as well as a $1000 fine for breaking a "cleanliness" bylaw. While the fines shouldn't break the band's bank, the situation does beg some questions: Does cleaning a surface count as defacement? Is reverse graffiti a greener form of graffiti?

Tell us what you think!

To see reverse graffiti artist Paul "Moose" Curtis in action, watch the video below.

Sources:  Green Daily, WebUrbanist, Inhabitat

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