Graffiti vs Mural Art: What's the Difference?

Learn about the differences between graffiti and mural art. Understand the history behind each form of art and how they are related.

Graffiti vs Mural Art: What's the Difference?

People observe art and appreciate it in their own way, but they may not be aware of the different terms used to describe a particular work or style of art. Many assume that murals and graffiti are indistinguishable, but in reality they are two unique forms of art, each with a rich history and culture. A mural is visual art that is applied directly to a wall. While most works of art end up hanging on a wall, a mural is an integral part of the wall and cannot be moved to a different wall.

It can be inside or outside, and its history dates back to ancient Egypt and Greece. The street art style, on the other hand, encompasses a wide range of works and media, and is still an evolving aspect of mural art, graffiti, and public awareness in general. Graffiti is mainly painted with spray cans, but it is also created with markers, paint rollers, engraving tools, fire extinguishers and other (bad) appropriate accessories. Usually, works are presented anonymously or signed with a pseudonym (the influence of graffiti is often reflected in the choice of names, with a focus on short, blunt words).

Much of modern street art is essentially mural work created for free. If you ask me what I do, I usually answer that I am an artist who often paints murals and public art. Read on to learn more about the specific characteristics of street art and the differences and similarities between graffiti and murals.

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