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Ten Top…Graffiti Styles

In the context of an art form, Graffiti has developed in a relatively short period of time. But that hasn’t affected the incredible range of styles used for creative expression. Below we look at 10 styles most commonly adopted by graffiti artists around the world…

10. Tags

The easiest and simplest of graffiti styles, tagging is where it all started. It is essentially the artist’s name or identifier in written form and uses at least one colour. It is considered disrespectful to write a tag over another’s artist’s tag or work. SNAKE-I, TAKI 183, KIKO and DESA were some of the earliest taggers in New York, who covered the Subway system in their work.

9. Throw-ups

Although it can still be done quickly, a throw-up is a slightly more sophisticated version of a tag. It incorporates more colours and is usually done with bubble style writing.

8. Blockbuster

A Blockbuster is an upgrade on a Throw-Up. It is much bigger, often covering a large area, but still in a relatively short period of time. The lettering is usually in a block style (using rollers to get the angles and save time).

7. Wildstyle

This is the more elaborate take on a Blockbuster. Whilst it is visually very appealing, the convoluted and interlocked letters, arrows, spikes and other decorative elements merge into one another, often making it difficult to work out what has been written.

6. Heaven or Heaven-spot

The aptly named Heaven style refers to artworks that have been placed somewhere very difficult to get to e.g. tops of buildings, bridges, roofs etc. Artists who manage this gain credibility from their peers.

5. Stencil

It is arguably the Stencil style that played the biggest role in taking graffiti into the mainstream. Considered by some artists as lazy, it involves making shapes using paper and cardboard and then applied with spray paint or rollers. As such, it is easy to replicate images and also easy to put them up quickly. The infamous Banksy gained notoriety for his fondness of the stencil style.

4. Poster (aka Paste-Up)

Posters can be made at home and then pasted up quickly and easily. Many artists use wheatpaste (a mixture of wheat flour and water) as it is notoriously difficult to then remove the artwork from surfaces.

3. Sticker (aka Slap)

Stickers are similar to posters but smaller and eliminate the need for paste. Some are simply tags drawn onto sticky labels while others are more elaborate.

2. Piece

Short for masterpiece, this is the style that changed the perception of graffiti from a crime to an artform. Painted by freehand, using at least 3 colours, they take much longer to paint. Traditionally, producing these works scored artists respect from their contemporaries as standing in an obvious place painting on walls where graffiti is illegal is a great risk.

1. 3D

3D graffiti pieces create an illusion of the third dimension. Besides the walls, making 3D graffiti on pavements and roads is also popular. Edgar Mueller and Kurt Wenner are some of the most famous artists renowned for adopting this style.


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