A Lismore graffiti artist who goes under the name JONES works on a new piece of art on the legal wall under the Ballina Street bridge in Lismore.
A Lismore graffiti artist who goes under the name JONES works on a new piece of art on the legal wall under the Ballina Street bridge in Lismore. Jay Cronan

New laws target graffiti artists

NEW laws that may leave graffiti artists without a licence to engage in their passion will only “add fuel to the fire”, a local artist believes.

NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell this week announced tougher penalties for graffiti artists, who were costing the state $100 million a year.

The anti-graffiti laws mean offenders could appear in court for graffiti-related offences.

The courts will also have the power to extend the amount of time an offender spends on their provisional or learner licence or suspend their licence altogether.

The laws will also allow the courts to order graffiti offenders to clean up their damage.

Mr O’Farrell, in announcing the tougher penalties, referred to crime statistics that showed most graffiti offenders were under 18 years of age.

Despite the government’s tough stance on the nuisance crime, a Lismore graffiti tagger, who asked only to be identified by his artist title JONES, said it would not stop the tags.

JONES discovered his passion for graffiti art four years ago and admitted to leaving his tag on various pieces of public infrastructure.

“I was also working with canvas and experimenting with a lot of different mediums,” he said.

“A lot of the best writers had that start, it weeds out the boys from the men.

“A tag is pretty much the backbone to a piece.”

JONES said more experienced graffiti artists grew to respect private ownership and personal property.

But the 24-year-old said the new laws didn’t add up.

“What has your car licence got to do with, and I hate to use this term, malicious damage?” he said.

“They are not at all connected. It may impact the younger generation, but there is a whole bunch of people that use public transport.”

From what he has seen, a large proportion of graffiti artists are past their teenage years.

“A lot of the teenage boys burn out early,” JONES said.

“The older, more established adults, they are the ones getting up to the most mischief on council property.”

JONES was recently accepted into a mentorship program with Arts Northern Rivers.

Clarence MP Steve Cansdell endorsed the new laws and was confident the possibility of loosing their driver’s licence would serve as a deterrent.

He said making taggers clean up their mess madeobvious sense.

“Graffiti offences are mainly committed by teenage boys, for whom driving is very, very important,” he said.

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