How artists have turned abandoned buildings into graffiti canvases and what the city of LA is doing about it. 

In downtown LA, behind the shadow of Arena, there are two 40-story buildings filled with luxury condos that have become a canvas for graffiti artists. 

The unfinished buildings have become an eyesore for local residents in the area. While they have complained about the unfinished skyscrapers, the buildings have become a piece of art in the city. However, some may also argue that it has become a greater eyesore since the building fell victim to graffiti. 

The first signs of graffiti were seen in early February by local residents, now the towers have become completely covered in graffiti, just within a few weeks. 

Following the first few incidents of tagging, the Los Angeles Police Department began working closely with the manager of the abandoned skyscrapers to come up with a comprehensive plan to better secure the buildings. 

The LAPD Chief Officer, Michel Moore, stated on Feb. 13 during a press conference that they are working to stop the taggers and keep people from parachuting from the building. These efforts have already consumed over 3,000 hours of the LAPD. 

The LAPD are not the only ones attempting to put an end to the graffiti in downtown LA. On Feb. 16, the Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a nearly $4 million plan dedicated to removing the graffiti on these buildings. The money will not only go towards removing the graffiti but also securing and restoring the buildings to prevent a similar issue in the future. 

Artists have argued that this will simply be a waste of money. Aker, one of the artists who tagged the building, stated that “a $1 million fence will not keep people out.” He argues that they need to focus on finishing the building or demolishing it as a whole. 

When considering the enduring impact of the towers, DR1, an artist who was early to leave his mark, believes its legacy will endure regardless of future developments. “While they may remove the graffiti, they cannot erase the profound influence it left on the city and beyond,” he remarked

Graffiti, once seen merely as vandalism, has evolved into a powerful form of expression that leaves a lasting imprint on communities worldwide. Far from being scrawls on walls, graffiti has the potential to shape the social, cultural and political landscapes of neighborhoods, often sparking both controversy and admiration.

The recent tagging on these downtown LA skyscrapers has been argued to be an expression against speculative capitalism-which is enriching the finances of investors without thinking about the repercussions of their investments on communities. Artists have used their work on the building to show how speculative capitalism has continued to fail like how the unfinished skyscrapers have sat in the heart of Los Angeles for nearly four years now. 

If the city does not plan to finish the buildings or demolish them, artists will likely continue to find a way to tag the building.