Spray paint was invented in 1949 as a way to coat radiators—after receiving a suggestion of using a makeshift spray gun, like those used for deodorizers, Edward Seymour (a paint salesman) mixed paint and aerosol in a can with a spray head. By 1973 it was highly popularized, with over 270 million cans being produced per year in the US, and adopted for other uses.
Spray paint is incredibly versatile—it is used for graffiti, fine art, and home/furniture redecoration alike. It can make glass into mirrors, it can allow artists to access more area with greater speed (whether their intention is to vandalize, to protest, to create beauty, or all of the above), and it can transform materials. What began as a functional tool to coat radiators was adopted as an artistic and aesthetic one. I often use spray paint in my artistic work today, and appreciate its unique material quality. It’s amazing how an innovation meant for such a practical task (coating radiators) has had such a huge impact on the world of street art, fine art, protest, and beyond!