Young artists are putting down their spray cans for smartphones, and causing graffiti art to die off as a result.
This according to researchers at Manchester Metropolitan University in England, who said that as Instagram and YouTube have become more popular methods to share art, fewer young people are taking to the streets to make a name for themselves.
In other words, kids these days are less Banksy and more Selena.
Rather than reproduce their work in multiple locations and areas, the study found, artists are sharing pictures of a single painting and relying on likes and shares to spread word about their art.
As a result, overall levels of illegal graffiti in the real world are on the decline even as images of graffiti art are becoming more visible on social media sites.
“Contemporary graffiti writing is changing – it is no longer an activity that is played out in urban environments, but also on the internet,” researcher Nicola Harding told the British Sociological Association.
“Social media platforms offer a space for people to try out different identities.”
The researchers noted that the digital divide is still very much in effect, as the move to social media is largely being carried out by wealthy and middle-class kids who can afford the equipment. This, say the researchers, is also changing the profile of the typical graffiti artist to that of a wealthier, more tech-savvy individual.
“Graffiti has been a way for young men of low socio-economic status to take risks to achieve sub-cultural kudos. But now better-off artists are able to achieve this reputation more quickly by using their higher economic status to bypass the risk associated with urban graffiti writing,” said Harding.
“In this way the rich kids of Instagram have killed the graffiti writer.”