Graffiti is a form of expression through spray paint. It is usually characterized by being almost illegible and by carrying messages of protest or criticism. It takes place in urban areas or alleys.
This art takes its basis from the drawings captured from the time of the Roman Empire, which had messages of protest. Being an urban art, we can find many types of graffiti.
The message is never usually direct, it is only transmitted through the interpretation given to it by the reader.
What are they?
The word graffiti has two origins. On the one hand, the Italian “graffiti” stands out, which means “flat scribble” or “drawing on the wall” and on the other the Greek “graphein”, which means to write. Both highlight their bases since it is about making paintings and writing on the walls.
Graffiti art has two aspects, on the one hand, the legal one, and on the other, the illegal one. Artists can create spectacular works with the approval of the law and on the other hand, they can follow the path of “Anything Goes” where graffiti is done on subways, trains, posters, street walls, and any suitable surface.
This is taken to such an extreme that we can highlight the American artist Cornbread, who put his signature or tag on a zoo elephant.
Graffiti is an art form of free expression against the system and its rules.
Types of graffiti
There is a wide variety of types of graffiti in the world, that is why we will mention only the most used and well-known types.
Graffiti can be divided into three types according to its current:
It is associated with the hip-hop culture of the 70s and 80s in the United States, it presents abstract motifs such as tags, recurring messages, abstract colors and shapes.
They appear in the city and reiterate political messages, some satirical and rude, seeking to send a message to the masses.
It is poorly elaborate, rude and tasteless graffiti found in public bathrooms and transit spaces, whether on doors, elevators and trains. They can be about confessions of love, complaints, poetry or stories.
Next, we present the types of graffiti according to their style:
Graffiti Wild Style
It is a kind of wild style with messy lines and strokes. It is characterized by having an arrow that provides movement. The strokes not only contain letters inside, but are part of them. They include circles, lines, spirals and a variety of shapes.
Graffiti Model Pastel
It is similar to the previous one, it seeks to capture attention due to its complexity, since the artist seeks distinction. He integrates complex three-dimensional shapes into the drawings by using different colors or changing the angle from which they are viewed. This mixture causes a loss of attention to the message while it is captured by the entire drawing itself.
He is the father of graffiti, also known as signatures, he uses a simple and quick drawing technique. It emerged before the birth of styles and was used for the artist to leave his fictitious name on different surfaces. The purpose of it is to be easy to read.
Graffiti Tags con Outlines
This type of graffiti was born from the previous style. It uses the same letterforms and techniques, but the artist adds a fine border to everything , as if he wanted to frame it.
Wrong lines or elements with irritating colors are seen in the drawing . Some artists who want to show that they know how to draw often add correct designs to demonstrate it.
Graffiti Bubble Letter
They include drawings of letters that look like bubbles , as if they were filled. They are usually large in size, with a black border.
Graffiti Throw Ups
This technique seeks to place a large amount of drawing in the largest possible space in a short time . That is why the spray streaks are noticeable in the drawing, because this way it can be filled in using less paint.
Graffiti Block Letter
Use large letters and thick lines. It is a type of graffiti that can be read from a distance.
It is easier to retain icons or images than words, so the artist creates icons to represent an idea. Use images with bright and original colors.
The artist creates characters from the letters that make up the graffiti. Some authors come from the art of comics, so they give originality to the drawing.
It resembles abstract spray art . It includes abstract images, so interpreting it can be complicated.
Among the numerous characteristics of graffiti we can mention:
- It is carried out on high or visible walls.
- It is usually visual street art considered illegal.
- It is carried out on large surfaces in urban spaces.
- It can have more or less abstract illustrations, written messages and more.
- It is done with a stencil or spray.
- It comes from satirical inscriptions in public spaces made during the Roman Empire and which were known as graffito.
- the countercultural hip-hop movements and different urban tribes used it as a form of expression.
- In the case of repressive governments that censor the press, graffiti is imposed as a means of protest.
- It is sometimes considered a form of visual pollution.
- Sometimes it is done as a method of marking territory or as a competition against other artists, demonstrating that bold spaces can be conquered before the police can discover it.
- If found in public spaces, graffiti is not very durable.
History of graffiti
Graffiti has a very ancient origin, with cave paintings, the first paintings made by men on the walls of caves. Some we can find in Lascaux, in France, or also in Calafate, Argentina.
The walls were painted with bones or stones, but then technology advanced and they designed a kind of spray. The caveman blew a hollow bone filled with colored powder on the walls.
A large amount of graffiti was found in the excavations of Pompeii. Graffiti was also found in public spaces of the Roman Empire. They included messages of love and satire.
Another famous graffiti was that of Jack the Ripper, written in blood on a wall in London , its message, enigmatic and probably anti-Semitic, was erased by the police to prevent the population from becoming alarmed and starting an anti-Semitic outbreak full of violence.
It was in 1942, during World War II, that graffiti would begin its career of anti-establishment protest. The resistance group La Rosa Blanca expressed its rejection of Hitler through graffiti and pamphlets.
An entire legend also stood out from this time, “Killroy was here!” (“Killroy was here!”) message that was accompanied by a puppet leaning out on a wall. This graffiti was found by Allied troops while they toured Europe to free it from the Nazis in World War II. It started in Tunisia and then found itself in Italy and France.
The Nazis also used graffiti to express their hatred of Jews and dissidents.
After a few years, the student protests held in France featured banners, posters and the pochoir technique, the precursor of the stencil and therefore, of a technique for making graffiti.
It was not until the 1970s that current graffiti began to develop in New York, and could be seen on the walls and in the subway stations of Manhattan.
Today graffiti has been reinvented, it can be seen in galleries, museums and art fairs, on canvases, installations and sculptures, it is part of contemporary art.