In this paper we present an analysis of the differences and similarities in the spatial distribution of graffiti in two Sydney suburbs: Newtown and Miranda. The research examines the extent to which factors of surveillance, location and legislation affect the range, production and spatial distribution of graffiti. Through the application of conventional archaeological field methods to the contemporary landscape this study has shown how an archaeological approach can test, and thereby validate or refute, general assumptions and proposals generated through other disciplinary frameworks. Results show that the amount of graffiti across the landscape does not follow the simple distinction whereby high visibility locations have low amounts of graffiti, while secluded locations have high amounts. Rather, within each landscape, the intricate interactions of human intention, graffiti policy and the characteristics of the built environment differentially shape graffiti distribution. Furthermore, this study shows that the influence of local community approaches to graffiti management on the typology and distribution of graffiti cannot be underestimated.