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Photo Essay: Graffiti and street art

By Eric Watson on February 20, 2013

Today we present a short photo essay on shots of Ottawa graffi by Eric Watson, a local photographer and future blogger  (he is working on site where on photographic theory and the socio/cultural influences behind his photography). According to Eric, in some ways Ottawa is a relatively friendly place for street art.

“These shots are from the House of Paint and the  Slater Street Tech Wall.  I think they give a cool glimpse into the degree in which graffiti is tolerated and to some extent appreciated in Ottawa. Initiatives like this allow for urban artists to harbour their talent and even attract outside talent as is the case with Spanish Artist Dulk who threw a piece up on the Slater St. wall.”

Eric does own printing and framing and will be selling pieces through the site soon. You can see more of his work on his flickr page.


  • I wonder if Eric will be giving attribution to the artists he is selling photos of. They are protected under copyright, so he might want to consider that first.

    By all means, the writers welcome you to take your family, wedding and group photos at tech wall, and down at House of Paint (the only 2 legal walls in Ottawa compared to the 33 across the river in Gatineau and Aylmer). BUT if I took a picture of one of your pictures and sold it as my own…I am not sure how many photographers would appreciate that kind of ‘support’.

    Also, if anyone is under the impression that Ottawa is “relatively friendly place for street art” they may want to consider current by-law legislation makes it nearly impossible for urban artists to make a living as a legitimate outdoor mural artist in this city. As long as that law is on the book, we will never see spectacular feats such as this:

  • I’m not completely buying into the idea that graffiti is protected under copyright law. Being that graffiti is public, it might be considered much the same way as statues etc. At least that might be a sound argument and in theory at least, the laws are open to interpretation.

    I do however feel that all artists should be given credit for their work and that if possible the photographs should name the artists.

    I think it’s unlikely that he’s making any money off them simply because photography is an incredibly hard sell.

    It’s been rare but I try to locate and contact any artist if their work ends up in one of my photographs and to ask permission.


    Rick Carroll

  • Eric

    Hey Debby,
    Thanks for the concern! The prints I will be selling through my website are of my own photographic creation and do not feature a direct representation of another artists work. If there is some graffiti within the image of a landscape or other public space than I believe this embodies pastiche and as such takes on a new dominant artistic element dependent upon the photographic viewpoint. As indicated in the “purchase prints” page, I will be selling prints of photos contained within my black and white and colour portfolios from the website – not prints shown here in this photo essay. These photos of graffiti are editorial. The ethos of this photo essay was to showcase, as you mentioned the only two legal sites, rather than the artists who have complied the walls. Kulture Burn is a nice blog! I also agree that changes need to be made to allow for Ottawa to become home to some really technical and eye-catching pieces. In the mean time I do think it is important to acknowledge what locations we do have in Ottawa where urban expression can flourish with out fear of imminent apprehension by authorities. Hopefully by showcasing the talent and how the aesthetic of these walls influences the environment and artistic progression we can see more of them pop up!

  • Rick – just to clarify – I don’t think Canadian Copyright law is open to interpretation on this. I was part of a successful challenge on this issue several years ago in Toronto – here’s a link on what happened, as well as information on the relevant sections of the law –

    While Ottawa does manage to stifle creativity in many ways, there are a number of good murals around the city, many done as part of the city’s Paint It Up program. They serve to show people that a city can be more than blank cement walls, it can also feature art. Art by the young local artists.