Graffiti Art

Graffiti: a work of art or vandalism?
Graffiti represents an art form that is unrestricted, one that
rebels against conventional forms of artwork. Graffiti is
intertwined into human history, dating back to the Roman
Empire. They made political statements and satirize current
Modern graffiti achieves many of the same things – to state a
message that doesn’t necessarily fit into the norms of society.
Graffiti also known as Street-Art or Urban-Art has come a long
way from the simple cave-paintings of our ancient past, to the
amazing diversity of today’s graffiti.
The American History of Graffiti:
From subway to gallery
Keith Haring
Keith Haring was an artist and social activist whose
work responded to the New York City street
culture of the 1980s.
Haring achieved his first public attention with chalk
drawings in the subways of New York (see public
art). These were his first recognized pieces of pop
art. His bold lines, vivid colors, and active figures
carry strong messages of life and unity.
Keith Haring
drawing in subway
ca. 1981
Keith Haring
Harlem, NY
Jean-Michel Basquiat was an American artist. His career in art
began as a graffiti artist in New York City in the late 1970s,
and in the 1980s produced Neo-expressionist painting.
In 1976, Basquiat and friends Al Diaz and Shannon Dawson
began spray-painting graffiti on buildings in Lower
Manhattan, working under the pseudonym SAMO.
In June 1980, Basquiat took is art from the street to the gallery
by participating in The Times Square Show, a multi-artist
exhibition. From that moment on he became a widely
known Urban Artist.
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Hollywood Africans
Jean-Michel Basquiat
Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist,
political activist, film director, and painter.
Stencils are traditionally hand drawn or printed onto
sheets of acetate or card, before being cut out by
hand. Because of the secretive nature of Banksy's
work and identity, it is uncertain what techniques he
uses to generate the images in his stencils, though it is
assumed he uses computers for some images due to
the photocopy nature of much of his work.
c. 2003
c. 2007
New Orleans
Jose Parla was born to Cuban parents in exile in
Miami, Florida. He started painting in 1983 at age
10. In 1988 he began painting on city walls using
the name "Ease," following the tradition of New
York subway art.
His paintings incorporate calligraphy into pictures
that resemble distressed city walls.
Jose Parla
Jose Parla
Jose Parla
Jose Parla
Los Angeles, CA
Not only are there different types of graffiti;
there are also plenty of different lettering
styles used by graffiti writers. Many of them
were designed by graffiti writers in the
beginning years of urban graffiti, in the 1970s
and 1980s. They’ve been imitated, expanded
on, adapted and changed by graffiti artists all
over the world.
Bubble Letters
A lot of graffiti lettering is done with bubble letters. Bubble letters can
take many different forms, but basically they are fat rounded letters,
with or without a differently-colored outline, usually overlapping each
other. They’re normally easy to read and don’t have too many stylistic
Block Letters
Block letters are basically the same as bubble, but
without the fat rounded appearance.
Shadow letters are commonly found on throw-ups and in
more complicated pieces. They use either block letters
or bubble letters and feature a shadow behind each
letter, making the lettering appear slightly 3D.
It’s hard to classify most types of graffiti lettering. The styles develop
organically, with only loose foundations. Lettering styles can sometimes
be traced back to the person who originally developed them. Such is the
case with Wildstyle, which was first thought up and practiced by Tracy
168 and Stay High 149 in New York.
Wildstyle graffiti is complex and often difficult to read for people who
aren’t familiar with graffiti lettering. The style has taken off all over the
world and has evolved as it’s been passed from continent to continent.
Calligraffiti is a combination of calligraphy and graffiti invented by
Amsterdam graffiti artist Shoe. It’s a somewhat stylized but still
easy-to-read lettering style. It brings together the best parts of
calligraphy and graffiti by putting beautiful and artful letters into an
urban setting.
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