Official Graffiti


The parks department paints this graffiti, and no one tries to clean it up even when it is done badly, though time has a go at it.

I struggled to decipher these hieroglyphics, and like fragmentary archaeological pictographs, sometimes you need just the right place or piece for understanding to dawn on all the others.

The bottom of this series was that piece for me. I now understand that the meaning of these paintings concerns dogs not being allowed to hunt humans on wheels. Not only is this a profound insight into park culture, but it demonstrates once and for all that dogs are symbolists (meaning 2a:  One who interprets or represents conditions or truths by the use of symbols or symbolism).

Surely this is Nobel Prize material.







Canon EOS 5Dmkii, Canon 50/1.4 lens, ISO100, f1.4, 1/200th




13 thoughts on “Official Graffiti

  1. I am nearly lost for words, but there is a broad smile across my face. I am really quite surprised that an enterprising graffiti artist has not added a little droplet of white paint in the drop zone. I will leave the rest to your imagination.


    • Andy that is hilarious. The lack of additional graffiti speaks to the unwritten code for not marking up works of art. Though how they resisted I can’t imagine.


  2. Ah, this is an important insight. I have noticed such complex semiotic meanings in other parks signs. For example, we have parks signage locally that (if I recall the details correctly) clearly communicates that hunters are prohibited from shooting people behind small trees. Or maybe it was they’re prohibited from shooting small trees behind large people? I must go back and doublecheck my memory… But a wise rule in either case, I think.

    With regard to the quality of the signage aesthetically, sign painting is rapidly becoming a lost art. Except in some places, as seen in this video on street typography:

    Also, with regard to signs by and for dogs, are you aware of the signage created by the District of North Vancouver?


    • Hi Skadhu – those links are terrific, especially the street typography one which is completely wow. Thanks so much for sharing.

      Semiotics is something that one could spend far too much time contemplating, which is why I like to jump to quick and barely thought out interpretations. You may think that understanding semiotics from the gut rather than the brain is counter-intuitive, but plainly that would be wrong. And besides, I probably have more fun than the semioticians are allowed to.


  3. Students of iconography look for layers of meaning in art works. There is a second message here: people on wheels should not disturb dogs while they are relieving themselves.


    • I think they are not meant for humans to comprehend. I have never seen a person stop to sniff them, let alone cock a leg on one. This is dog graffiti, for dogs and as we are learning through careful analysis, by dogs.


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