Dissertation Reflection (PDP)

When deciding on what to write about for my dissertation I did not know what to choose, I knew it had to be something I was interested in but also something that I did not t know too much about so it kept it exciting for me to research and learn about. I had always enjoyed graffiti in-particular the artist known as Banksy but never really understood how Banksy went from a no good illegal graffiti artist to a worldwide phenomenon and why some graffiti is praised by the public yet other pieces are frowned upon and removed straight away. As an illustrator graffiti fits in with what I do myself as I am trying to communicate through images just like graffiti artists attempt to do. I like to make my work eye-catching and graffiti is all about grabbing the public’s attention so I thought that this subject would be brilliant to help me gain a better understanding of how to make my own art communicate as best as possible. I decided that this topic would be perfect and decided that I’d discuss whether graffiti should either be considered as vandalism or whether it is art and what exactly causes different pieces of graffiti to be considered as one or the other. At first I kept it as a general discussion but after one of my dissertation meetings it was agreed that a main focus area would be beneficial and possibly more interesting to me personally. I decided to choose Bristol as my main focus as it is quite close to where I live and I know that their views on graffiti are quite interesting especially considering that Banksy is from there. Unfortunately for me Bristol’s graffiti policy was currently being updated and after contacting Bristol council I could not get my hands on the policy which would be a major talking point in my dissertation so I decided to focus on Cardiff instead.

To start off I decided to get as much research done as possible writing down quotes and areas of interest as I went. Knowing that these quotes would be extremely important for my dissertation I decided to not only put them all into a Word document but also categorize them using different colours so that I could find quotes a lot easier when writing certain sections. I started my research in the library where I found a lot of great material that fitted in perfectly with my topic, graffiti as a whole was very easy to research and gather information about, vandalism on the other hand was a bit more challenging and meant reading through laws and legislations. I have never been a big reader and knew that reading through the books would be quite challenging for me personally so I decided to get that over and done with first. I found that to really focus I had to lock myself away in my room with no noise as I tend to find it hard to focus whilst reading, this approach really helped me get through books quickly. After reading through some books I already had a great range of useable quotes but did not have much on Cardiff so moved to newspaper articles which were great as they had local news about Cardiff and surrounding areas. As well as articles I found a few videos that related to my topic which felt like a nice break from reading and meant I could chill out with a notepad and jot down a few quotes whilst watching them.

Throughout my research it was really interesting to read different opinions on graffiti from a range of different sources and it made me question what I thought about graffiti too. I have always been a fan of graffiti but after my research my opinions changed slightly,  I had always thought of graffiti as artistic graphics on walls but then of course random name scribbles and aerosol paint with no real meaning other than to destroy property would also be considered as graffiti. It was nice to discover that there are a lot of graffiti artists that take pride in what they do and create their art to brighten up places and make them look better, which I must admit I agree with completely. I have always thought that a plain wall could have so much potential in the hands of a talented graffiti artist.

After a lot of research was done I started to write my dissertation, breaking it all into different sections to help me keep track of what I was doing. I surprisingly found writing my dissertation a lot easier than expected, as I had a lot of quotes it was a simple task of slotting them in and expanding on each with my own thoughts and feelings. In my subject work I have always found it easier to break up my artwork into different stages so I can keep on top of it all and this same approach really helped me in managing what would have otherwise been a really big task.

Although researching was sometimes a struggle for me to get into, overall writing my dissertation has really helped me to understand just how important research is and has also helped me understand how to make a balanced discussion on a specific topic. I have learnt a lot about graffiti but more importantly writing my dissertation on graffiti has helped me understand that what may be considered as good artwork really just comes to personal taste and not everyone is going to like what I do, I think as an illustrator this is really important to remember although I will always try to make my work appeal to as many people as possible.

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