By Nuntida Sisavat

Stockton is rated the eighth most dangerous city in the United States.

When coming into Stockton, especially downtown, visitors may notice it isn’t as lively as one would hope.

However, would you believe me if I said “vandalism,” also known as graffiti, is one of the only things brightening up this town? Graffiti is only legal in two places in the United States — Venice Beach and Queens.

This is forcing artist’s in Stockton to hide from the consequences of expressing themselves.

“I think Stockton definitely does need a little bit more, there use to be a lot more but, in the past two to three years the cities have been cleaning up a lot of it. Not only like whats on the streets, but they’ll come to secluded spots like these where it’s walls that no one cares about, and they’ll start cleaning up our graffiti. Spots where there will be pieces and murals that have been there for years by legendary graffiti artist that came before us. They just start white washing everything we had, it sucks because they are destroying our culture,” said Eatbrainz, a local graffiti artist.

Art isn’t always on a canvas. People assume art is only created to be put into a gallery, or it has to mean something.

“It’s street art from that point. It’s just whatever laws are in place in your city that kind of tell whether it is like, for example, this type of stuff like letter styles and like folks that go out and write it can kind of be viewed as like this is going to be more seen as graffiti. Whereas like if someone is using like characters or like more imagery then it would be like a lot more closely looked at as art. It validates it at that point,” said Garrett Daniells, a community activist.


People may look at graffiti and describe it as the ugliest thing they have ever seen, but they don’t know and understand why these artist’s do what they do. Not everyone can make a jump shot from half court, or sing their hearts out and not everyone’s passion is the same. Some people sing, dance, play a sport and some people create art.

Graffiti is constantly overlooked and seen as destruction. Although, in some case graffiti should not be permitted on private buildings.

What about the walls that are in secluded areas, and no one can see?

As a community we should fight for those who can’t, these graffiti artist aren’t bad people. Yet people have this preconceive notion of anyone with a spray can. These artist’s love what they do, they don’t do it for anyone but for themselves. Not everyone is lucky enough to find what brings happiness to their lives, and these artist’s have found it. Why would we want to rip away the reason they wake up in the morning.

Graffiti is not something everyone can understand.

If people would just look pass the spray can and see what these artist’s are trying to communicate through their work, I full heartedly believe that their judgement on graffiti will change.

“What inspires you?” is the question I asked all the artist, they all answered by saying “Stockton!”

In the eyes of Stockton residents, we see it as beautiful. We see the homeless people pushing around shopping carts as beautiful, the diversity as beautiful, and everything about it is beautiful. Looking at Stockton from the outside, you may disagree but this is the city we live in and love. Looking at Stockton from the outside, “beautiful” probably is not the word one would use. However, these graffiti artist’s take what they get and they don’t complain. They accept the real Stockton and dedicate it into their pieces.

“I spent a lot of time by myself, so I would just walk around or skate around and explore. I would walk along the train tracks and along the creeks and I would go to these secluded places, that normal people won’t got to. I would find all these cool walls, with all these beautiful pieces and murals. It always made me happy, it’s something that I could always go out and do by myself,” said Eatbrainz.

A lot of graffiti artist’s comes from either broken homes, or poor communities. Not every family in Stockton is fortunate enough to have access  to art galleries, so for some kids that really big and bright tagging on the wall are masterpieces in their eyes.

“It’s the first thing the kid in the hood is going to see,” Garrett Daniells.