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This book presents a classification system for graffiti styles that reflects the expertise of graffiti writers and the work of art historian Erwin Panofsky.

ISBN 13: 9781581808476

This innovative book is a valuable resource for anyone who wants to learn more about graffiti and for information professionals concerned with both the practical and intellectual issues surrounding image access. Image via nadib-bandi. Image via fatcap. Image via pintrest. All images used for illustrative purposes only. Old School refers to styles developed in the s and 80s at the beginning of graffiti art.

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Later they emerged from this underground cradle to take over the city and initiate the burgeoning of this art form. This style may be hard to decipher, but is visually equally, or even more engaging than others. Many consider it the queen discipline of the New York graffiti.

The convoluted and interlocked letters, arrows, spikes and other decorative elements merge into one another making it difficult to discern what has been written. The complex pattern of letters and other forms creates dynamic abstract images where letters can only be detected by professionals. The rounding of letters in classical throw-ups was the initial phase that led to the development of bubble style.

The letters are round, circular and often overlapping partially one another, creating an image that seems to expand and bubble-up in a way.

How to Draw a Street Scene Graffiti Style

Bubble graffiti can be done in two colors, where letters are sprayed in one color, and later outlined with another, creating a contrast, or multiple colors can be applied for a more exuberant effect. Relatively quick to execute once the initial design is settled, brush style stands for the use of brush or paint rollers which create a smooth final effect. Brush graffiti are devoid of unnecessary lines and petty details, but sometimes, brushes may be used for the execution of fine points, which creates a more painterly result.

In the example we selected to illustrate this style, graffiti artist Zilda made a reminiscence of Renaissance art on a wall in Naples. In abstract style the main goal is not readability, but the visual excellence of each piece. There is no message or writing that addresses the viewers. Instead, the emphasis in on the combination of visual elements that creates dynamic and balanced pieces.


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Following in steps of the painterly and sculptural abstraction developed in the 20th century, abstract graffiti similarly represent intricate formal arrangements, where color, shape, lines and organization of compositions are of the foremost importance. Featured image: Zard — Mural in San Diego, , detail. Blockbuster style stands for large murals made of sprayed letters that are done quickly, and sometimes with the use of paint rollers. The goal of blockbuster graffiti is to cover a large space in short amount of time.

Two groups are distinguished within blockbuster style.


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  • The first is block graffiti. The use of large square and rectangular letters distinguish this style, while the second group — wholecar — stands for sprayed art that covers whole trains, from left to right and from top to bottom.

    Street Scene: How to Draw Graffiti-style - AbeBooks - John Lee:

    Fat cap is a name for a special nozzle invented for graffiti art. The nozzle is put on a can of spray paint, and was invented in the late s by graffiti artist Supercool. It allows a wider stream of spray to come out of the can, creating the largest lines. It is particularly used for tags, throw-ups and fillings, which are, due to the width of lines, defined as a special stylistic group named fat cap. Perhaps the most popular style at the moment, stencil stands for graffiti style where shapes made of cardboard, paper or other materials are used for reproduction of images.

    The desired forms are cut out of these materials and applied with spray paint or roll-on paint on the walls and other surfaces. The use of stencils makes replication of images easy, and this also contributes to the popularity of this style, which has in recent years grow into a worldwide subculture. Featured image: Kurar — Stencil in Clermont, France, Cartoon characters, superheroes from comics or surreal motifs define the style widely known as cartoon. The style combines figures and motifs either taken from popular culture or creatives invent their own cartoon figures.

    Creating a surreal world of cartoon characters is the mission of Cof, an urban artist from Argentina, who we picked to illustrate this style. His inspiration came from the s Argentinian publication Fierro. Cof was inspired by the marvelous illustrations and stories in this periodical, which prompted him to create his own cartoon worlds on the walls of Buenos Aires. Image via buenostairesstreetart. As the name suggests, 3D graffiti create illusion of the third dimension in represented images.

    It is one of the main reasons why initial graffiti writings were heavily influenced by the New York graffiti scene. As the paintings on the west side of the Wall flourished, the east side was left with the blank, sterile wall surface, where free artistic expression on the one side became a marker of social and cultural differences of separate societies.


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    • All this changed after the fall of Berlin Wall in , when the city as a whole became playground for artists of both sides and street art scene thrived in the atmosphere of newly found freedom. The street art movement continued to develop after the Wall collapsed, with artists marching into Eastern neighborhoods like Mitte, Friedrichshain, Prenzlauer Berg and turning the gray areas of the city into vibrant art districts. Parallel to the spontaneous forms of artistic expression, which started developing in the city, one of the most significant mural projects was initiated on the remains of the Wall construction.

      The remains of the Wall, with over one hundred murals became known as the East Side Gallery , one of the largest open-air galleries in the world and the biggest memorial to the world piece. Not to mention one of the most important tourist attractions in Berlin.

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      The rich and versatile street art scene in Berlin is a result of various paradoxes that followed the evolution of the movement. Graffiti and street art had an essential role in shaping the identity of the city and when UNESCO proclaimed Berlin the City of Design in , there were no doubts that vibrant street art scene partially influenced the decision.

      This all lead to the paradoxical situation in which street art and graffiti thrived, using the gray legal area as their foundation. While in the eighties graffiti and wall painting developed in reaction to the sociopolitical atmosphere of the divided city, the years after the fall of the Wall were followed by the new direction. For street artists and graffiti writers, new mission was to reclaim the public spaces and the result was a plethora of versatile street art expressions.

      From numerous graffiti crews to prolific local artists working in various techniques from stencils to paste-ups, protagonists of street art scene in Berlin participated in the making of a truly diversified and exciting movement. Until the s, which triggered a street art craze on a global level, much of the work on Berlin streets was developing on a small-scale through spontaneous interventions.

      Besides proliferation of graffiti tagging, street art evolved through its own dynamics giving birth to a generation of prolific artists like Alias , XOOOOX , Mein Lieber Prost and El Bocho , who developed a unique set of recognizable characters, communicating with local audiences by remaining constantly in the public eye. After the s, the city saw an increasing number of large-scale mural projects, embracing what became the most sought after trend in street and urban art.

      With the abundance of graffiti writings, versatile street art expressions and monumental mural works made by many celebrated local and international artists, Berlin truly is a unique city that leaves no street art enthusiast indifferent. Thierry Noir painting on the Berlin Wall. Image via The Guardian. Berlin Wall graffiti on the west side.