Graffiti From Outlawed to Revered

Learning Targets

  1. Understand how an art style can be illegal in some places, and revered in others.
  2. Create an artwork in the graffiti style.

What is graffiti?

From dark alleys...

To abandoned buildings...

Graffiti artists usually do not own the property they are painting on.

Because it is illegal to “tag” things that don’t belong to you, most graffiti is made quickly, with simple lines and few colors. The quicker a graffiti artist can finish, the less likely he is to get caught.

But sometimes graffiti artists are actually PAID to make their art....

A skate park might pay a graffiti artist to give their facility a grunge vibe.

A local government might hire a graffiti artist to beautify a city park.

And some graffiti is meant to be interactive!

These murals are part of a local “art walk”

Right here in Huntsville, Alabama!

Graffiti is usually made with spray paints, directly on walls, trains, bridges, and other publicly visible locations.

When too much spray paint is applied, you see “runs,” or dribbles that flow down the wall, like in this image from Spideman Into the Spider Verse.

Make your own (legally)

Don’t forget to put a placemat under your paper.

Use a pencil to draw box letters. I’m using my initials for this example - NCN.

If you want, add some runs by drawing dribble lines coming down from the bottom of each letter.

You can also round off the corners and make lines less straight. This makes it look like you were rushing to avoid getting arrested.

Trace your line work with a Sharpie to make those lines really pop!

Color with your favorite medium. I like to use blendable alcohol inks to make highlights and shadows.

Optionally, you can push the depth by adding a drop shadow under the letters...

And color the drop shadow with cooler, darker colors.

You can also push the depth even further by using a white gel pen to brighten the highlights.

Need more inspiration?

Created By
Noel Newquist


Created with images by TeroVesalainen - "success goal target" • James Garman - "Hozier Lane" • Jouni Rajala - untitled image • dimitrisvetsikas1969 - "wagons train old abandoned" • rspata - "lennon wall prague love" • jonathan Ford - "A graffiti artist in Leake Street Tunnel under the Waterloo station, London" • Edgar Chaparro - untitled image • Emiliano Vittoriosi - untitled image