One of the principles behind Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) is the concept that human behavior can be modified by the environment they are in. For communities that are experiencing problems with graffiti, public art may be part of the answer.
Taggers and graffiti artists tend to look upon blank surfaces such as walls, dumpsters and telephone junction boxes as blank canvases just waiting for their spray cans to transform them into calling cards for the local gangs. The solution, in many cases, appears to be placing designs or murals on the surfaces before the tagger can. It seems that, psychologically, taggers have an innate sense of “professional courtesy” regarding other people’s paintings and tend to leave them alone. Well, that and the fact that it is too much work to completely paint the wall to then add their own art may play a factor in their decision on where to paint.
For years, the recommendation to communities experience tagging has been to paint over the tagging within 24 hours to discourage the practice. Unfortunately, many business owners have done so only to return the next morning and find new tagging on their freshly painted wall. A longer term solution seems to be adding a mural or other design to deter further tagging. Nature (and graffiti artists!) abhor a vacuum so filling that void with public art often eliminates the problem.