Instagraff: How the rich kids of Instagram killed the graffiti writer

  • John Humphries
  • Nicola Harding

    Press/Media: Expert Comment


    Graffiti is now a feature of urban centres, music videos, advertising campaigns, art galleries, auction houses, and magazines. However, this has not always been the case. The saturation of images of graffiti in ‘mainstream’ spaces demonstrates that graffiti subculture has developed at a rapid pace since the birth of Hip Hop graffiti during the 1970s. This study examines the social and technological advances that have prompted graffiti culture to appear in the mainstream. Recognising the birth of Web 2.0, social media and user-created content, as a key cultural development; this study analyses images from social media accounts, relating the images to the works of Baudrillard (1970), simulacra and simulation, Goffman (1959) Presentation of self, and Burgess (2007) Vernacular creativity and New Media. Proposing that, within the liminality of cyber/space, the process of vernacular creativity as a mode of self-presentation promotes the replication of existing graffiti images to such a point, that cyber/space graffiti can be considered a procession of simulacra. This flattening of graffiti culture into simulacra dislocates contemporary graffiti from its subcultural deviant origins, including the associated risks, whilst simultaneously offering the subcultural rewards associated with traditional graffiti subculture. 

    Period6 Apr 2017 → 6 Apr 2017

    Media coverage


    Media coverage

    • TitleToday Show
      Degree of recognitionNational
      Media name/outletBBC Radio 4
      Media typeRadio
      Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
      Producer/AuthorJohn Humphries
      PersonsJohn Humphries
    • TitleInstagram kills off the graffiti rebel
      Degree of recognitionInternational
      Media name/outletThe Times
      Media typePrint
      Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
      DescriptionStealing paint, finding an unguarded wall under the cover of night and leaving a tag used to be an act of rebellion. Now the graffiti artist is being driven out by the rich kids of Instagram.

      Nicola Harding of Manchester Metropolitan University, who has spent years researching graffiti, says social media has attracted thousands of middle-class youngsters to street art.
      Producer/AuthorNeil Johnston
      PersonsNicola Harding

    Academic conference

    TitleBritish Sociological Association Conference
    LocationManchester University, Manchester, United Kingdom
    Period5 Apr 2017 → 7 Apr 2017