There is a Universal Human Context that can be tapped and empowered by the proper execution of iconic political urban graffiti. Here’s one stunning example that says it all without saying a single word: America is now more about bombing people than lighting the way to lead them to freedom.

Sometimes a word or two can enhance the icon. In this example, we see one stick figure ready to assassinate the other.

Only the trademarked “Capitalism” tag beneath the graffiti clues us in on the intention of the man with a gun.

In this graphic example of iconic political urban graffiti, we have the universally familiar “Coca-Cola” logo imprinted on a pill.

We get the memeing in the message: Branded Sugar Water and Caffeine are the New Addiction.

Effective. Iconic. Political. Urban.

Sometimes words are never enough and actually mess up the message. In this graffiti bit, “No Means No” is found painted on a wall.

Is this about sexual harassment and rape? In the USA, that phrase would likely be interpreted as fighting back against sexual harassment, but in this example, the wall is found in Ireland and “No Means No” concerns an upcoming vote on a treaty.

In a local context, the message has some meaning, but in the Universal Human Context, that sort of political graffiti is too limited to be effectively iconic.

Here’s another fail example.

We can see someone is being censored as a pasted smile fronts a concerned face — but there is no Universal Human Context beyond that message of keeping quiet — and that alone is not enough of a pressing to create any sort of infused momentum.

Locally, this graffiti might have several meanings that are a ripe call to action against an oppressive power — but without the Universal Iconic — the image is merely a curious entertainment and not a call for a specific demand.

If you live in the urban core, look around for clues others have left behind for you on the walls that encase your wants and imprison your desires. Recall the messages and think aloud if the art is iconic or merely amusing.


  1. I once saw a simple yet crass graffiti on the Upper West Side of NY — it had “9/11” followed by a smiley face. I was sad to see that.

  2. I will have to look for it, David. I think it’s on my computer at home.

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