Friday, May 10, 2013

Graffiti Names...ooh, Edgy!

Here in southern NH we aren't exactly urban or edgy. Our town is more "quaint" and "quiet" and is best known for its Colonial feel. Graffiti can be seen here and there, but it is looked upon as vandalism. Probably for a couple of reasons: 1. It appears in inappropriate places such as on street signs and, 2. For the most part, it isn't very good...Sorry!

I am not crazy about the swear words or anatomy lessons that sometimes appear on the underpasses. It's always lovely to have your emerging reader sounding out four letter words he has seen as you make the trip to Grandma's house! That's not the kind of graffiti I'm talking about. I'm talking about the artform in which artists use spray paint to create images and lettering in a colorful, concise way in a public setting. This is a type of artwork I cannot do (at least in spray paint), but I highly admire. The colors are out-of-this world! The way the artists combine text and image is amazing and creative. So, I needed to do this with my kiddos and see what they could come up with.

This student is in 3rd grade.
I did this project with students in 2nd-4th grade and then again with 5th-8th graders and both groups of students took to the project easily. I love the creative results and would highly recommend this project! A site that I found VERY helpful when planning the project was of visuals and handouts and how-to's. Another great take on this project can be seen at Art Room With a View. Danielle's 7th graders created graffiti tags but then went above and beyond with the backgrounds--you have to go check those out!

Graffiti Names

Supplies Needed:
  • Lettering Sheets (examples of the alphabet in different styles of graffiti--bubble, tag, etc.)
  • White copy paper
  • Pencils with erasers
  • Sharpies (I had fine point and ultra fine on hand)
  • Colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Glue sticks
  • Print-out of a photo of a brick wall

1. Choose a word, nickname, or your name to use for your tag and sketch out a few ideas for your tag. 

2. Choose a font for your tag. Are you going to use bubble letters or a more edgy, linear font? Draw or trace the letters for your tag on the white copy paper.

3. Thicken the letters in your tag, if desired, and then retrace your letters so that they touch one another.

4. Make your letters 3D, if desired.

5. Add "bits" such as shiny highlights on the letters, a crown, hearts, bubbles, or arrows.

6. Add a "forcefield," or two to hold it all together. The forcefield is the cloud around the letters.

7. Ink pencil lines with Sharpie. Erase any extra pencil lines.

8. Add color with colored pencils. Colors can be bright, you can use complementary color combinations for "pop," the letters should be different than the forcefield for readability, use effects such as gradients, textures, patterns, etc. 

9. Cut out the finished tag. Glue to the printout of the brick wall with a glue stick. Re-outline the tag with Sharpie, if necessary.

Have fun with this artform and make it yours! Don't worry if your first try isn't exactly perfect--just try again! Try using your tag as your homescreen on your phone or iPod or putting it in a tee-shirt. So cool!

This student is in 5th grade. 
This student is in 5th grade.
This student is in 2nd grade.

This student is in 7th grade.
This student is in 5th grade.
This student is in 3rd grade.

This student is in 2nd grade.

This student is in 2nd grade.
This student is in 2nd grade.
This student is in 5th grade.


  1. Cool project! I am going to try this with my middle school art kids. Did you make your own brick background, or did you find it someplace?

    1. Thanks, Kristine-I just did a search for brick wallpaper and used that. They printed out nicely--I was surprised! Good luck with the project!


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