Is it Legal for an Artist to Sell Photos of Graffiti?

free art school graffiti-7

In my last post I shared some pictures of some graffiti I found. I went back and took some more photos that I’m pretty happy with and I would like to sell. I haven’t finished researching the copyright issue but it’s probably a good idea to get permission from the artist before trying to profit off of your documentation of their work. I don’t know how I’d get a hold of the artist . . . maybe hang out around the area for a while and hope for a little luck.

I don’t want to take any chances though, because I really want to avoid legal issues. I’ll just share my favorite shots with you guys in the meantime. (I do see a signature on the Juicy Lips, and I’ve seen his signature on a mural downtown. I could probably find him.)


free art school graffiti-8

free art school graffiti-5

Jumping Cowboy

free art school graffiti-3

Sad Cowboy

I Found a Hidden Free Graffiti Art School



I was driving down North St. one day near the college, when I noticed this Octopi graffiti painted on the wall of a closed down fast food restaurant. I snapped a few pictures then I turned around and saw some juicy lips and the familiar “Nac Rats” rat.  Even the concrete had been painted. As I continued to explore I stumbled on a whole bunch of graffiti hidden in this little area.

I walked along the wall checking out this little art museum wondering how the people who live in the apartment feel about their view. Then I noticed a hole in the fence, a couple of couches, and the words “Free Art School” written on the wall in sharpie. Hmmm . . . I’m really curious who attends this free art school, but nobody showed up while I was there. Maybe I’ll visit it again sometime and run into an artist.

Should Graffiti be Legal?


Elaine Vilela Gomez, Morro da Providência favela, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 2008 by JR Pasted Photos

Spray paint art doesn’t just grab my attention on artwork that can be held in your hands. Walls make great canvasses too. Street art and murals have been gaining a lot of ground lately.

Some aren’t even done with spray paint . . . some are done by pasting photos like in the above street art from the series, Women Are Heroes by JR.

Recently on the summer olympics in Brazil, we got to see a little bit of Rio de Janeiro’s street art . . . where graffiti is legal.



Philadelphia is another town known for their street art. When we give artists an opportunity to express their creativity, we see that they make towns come to life with colorful and free and educational art for everyone. Instead of creating an opportunity for punishment. 




Don’t forget about the controversial British artist Banksy on the streets of England. If graffiti was legal, would Banksy’s artwork make the same impact?

Well, I could go on and on forever about graffiti, murals, and street art . . . But for now, I want to share a little guy I found in my town.

For many years, I’ve noticed this smoking bomb hanging out on an old gas station on Hwy 259. It looks like it was painted using Banksy’s preferred technique of stenciling.  



Smoking Bomb on Hwy 259


Recently, I was exploring my town with some friends when I found another smoking bomb.


Smoking Bomb Tower

He was hiding inside this tall brick tower at the edge of a sports field that I drive by almost everyday. Talk about hidden in plain view.

I’ve found 2 of these little smoking bombs so far. I wonder how many more are out there. And who is the artist?


Smoking Bomb inside Tower

I guess the smoking bomb is considered illegal graffiti and most people probably think it looks ugly. But, I think it adds character to my town. Some of these paintings have been up for years. And some are temporary. Some I’ve grown so used to seeing that I don’t see them anymore. 

Do you have any eye grabbing artwork on the walls of your town? Has your town legalized graffiti and street art? Get out there and capture some great art before it’s gone forever. And if YOU’RE a street artist, I’d love to see your stuff.