Graffiti is a Crime

The objective
The outcome
Graffiti is a reaction to society, and Banksy's work has always been a prominent voice. The objective was to find patterns in the themes and subjects in Banksy's graffiti as a reflection of our societal landscape.
A narrative and visualisation of our struggles through the graffiti of Banksy, across
7 global cities.
2016 · 2 weeks · National institute of design
The final outcome was a visualisation of Banksy's street art, its themes and subjects as a visual narrative of the socio-political struggles of the different cities and countries where he was most active.
Tracking Banksy & collecting data
One of the biggest challenges was recognising authenticity and calling out fakes while going through the large volume of Banksy's work.
In order to collect and understand Banksy's work, an exhaustive volume of articles, underground blogs, news reports, websites and archives was curated for secondary research. The data collection method was crucial in order to identify genuine data from trusted sources, for the accuracy of the visualisation. There were several stages of cross-verifying to make sure each artwork collected for data set was created by Banksy.
The image data set
Image as 'data'
A set of 151 graffiti artworks, after proper verification, were used as the data set for the visualisation. The themes and visual elements of these were then studied. The artworks spanned across 7 cities.
Using images as data has certain nuances, specially when visualisation is tied to the interpretation of the image. Through thorough reading, the most widely accepted thematics were chosen to keep the interpretation unbiased.
Organising and evaluating the data
· There were 10 predominant themes recorded.
· The themes were then filtered against the city they appeared in.
· The visual graffiti elements in the artworks were also recorded.
The artworks were carefully studied and assigned theme-based keywords. These keywords were
re-evaluated several times to arrive at the most diverse and inclusive set of themes.
The ten themes
The artworks were categorised into ten diverse themes relating to society, politics and humanity. These were the subjects Banksy was most vocal about in his graffiti.
REcurring graffiti elements
The focal elements that appeared over and over again in Banksy's work, across the different themes.
Concept development
After finalising and organising all the data content, it was extremely critical to come up with an apt visualisation method that would capture the 'data stories' and give meaningful, and sometimes surprising insights. It should also capture the sentiment and the context of the data and make a visual impact.
'The buzz' as a visual metaphor
Why a 'buzz'?
The themes are represented by a visual metaphor of a 'buzz' around a circular grid. More the height of the buzz, the more number of artwork of that theme and hence is a more relevant the theme in that city.
Banksy's graffiti is a voice against the biggest problems of our society today. Whenever a new graffiti is found there's always a buzz and a great deal of discussion around it.
The buzz represents the collective public reaction to provocative street art.
The seven cities where Banksy has been most active in, and which contain the largest number of his artworks.
Final visualisations
The final outcome of this data visualisation project consisted of visualisations of the seven cities where Banksy most active. The 'buzz' across the various themes indicate what subjects are most addressed in the respective city.
When the visualisations are compared, it starts telling a compelling data story about the most prominent issues across these cities.