The 13 Basic Styles of Graffiti

Graffiti is everywhere; some say the drawings on the pyramids are graffiti, others say modern advertising is graffiti. Even if you disregard those, graffiti  is globally present on the streets from Los Angeles to Tokyo. Whatever you consider to be graffiti, all graffiti falls under a few basic styles. Here are 13 of them.

(Disclaimer: These are not all of the styles, only a few.)

1) Tag

A tag is the quickest and easiest style. It’s one color and usually one word, most commonly an artist’s name.

Graffiti tag Source: widewalls

2) Throw-up

Similar to a tag, a throw-up is a word. Unlike a tag, it has two or more colors written in a bubble-style. (A tag with more colore and style).

3) Blockbuster

A blockbuster is basically a large throw-up, usually done in blocky lettering. (A large throw-up).

Blockbuster graffiti Source: panoramio 

4) Wildstyle
Like a throw-up, wildstyle has numerous colors but tends to take more time to complete due to the complexity. Having decorative accents such as interlocking letters, arrows and curves, wildstyle is usually hard to read. (A complex throw-up).

5) Stencil
This style is done by creating a cut-out (stencil) and spray painting or paint rolling over it. It is an easy way to make a complex pieces quickly and reproduce it even quicker. Thanks to the fame of Bansky and Shepard Fairey this style doesn’t need to much explanation. (A lazy throwup).

Graffiti stencil style Source: fatcap

6) Paste-up
Like a stencil, a paste-up is something that is done at home and quickly put up after. (A pre-made throw-up or image).

7) Sticker

A sticker can be as simple as a tag or as complex as wildstyle, but it is pre-made like a past-up. (A mini paste-up).

Graffiti sticker style Source: fatcap

8) Ignorant Style

Ignorant style displays an unlearned element of graffiti. It is the intentional product of adding non-harmonic or random deformations or neglecting technique such as fill-ins or misused caps. The oxymoronic lack of style being a style in itself.

Mtn-world describes its use as a homage to primitive graffiti, stylistic restlessness, humor, and rawness.

Ignorant style graffiti  Source: mtn-world

9) Bubble style
This style developed from the rounding of letters in throw-ups. The iconic features of the style includes round letters that often overlap each other. Much like a throw-up, bubble style can be done in as little as two colors or more.

10) Abstract

In abstract style the visual effect of the piece comes first. In a reminiscent echo of the abstract art of the 20th century, color, shapes, and dynamic composition represents the quality.

11) Cartoon

Defined by the pop-culture-esque characters this style combines known figures and motifs to create a unique piece.

Cartoon style graffiti Source: fatcap

12) 3D 

Self-explanatory, 3D graffiti creates an illusion of reality with realistic dimensions. (Edgar Mueller, Julian Beever and Kurt Wenner.

13) Sharp

Sharp style is the exagerated stretching, thinning, and morphing of letters painted angular forms, often portraying an angry or aggressive mood.

Sharp style graffiti Source: fatcap

Which style is your favorite and which one do you see the most?? Let us know in the comments!!

Sources: mtn-world, graffeur-paris, widewalls, fatcap

(Editor’s Notes: This post was originally published in June 2017 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.)


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