Graffiti is often associated with gangs, guns and crime. But it's important to understand why. Graffiti is used by gangs in Mexico, L.A. and other large cities the world over. It's used to mark gang territory in specific areas. Often gangs will spray their tags over an enemies tag to provoke violence and retaliation. As such, graffiti has built up a bad reputation and has come to be associated with the more negative aspects of culture and society.
It doesn't have to be so. In my town, for example, one primary school started a small, low-budget project and allowed all the children 'Graffiti' over the walls of the school and neighbouring park. Not only did this create an amazing piece of art at virtually no cost, but the children felt proud of their work. Instead of vandalizing the school they now wished to protect and preserve their creation and as such a small sense of community was built up. This is the inverse of what most people generally conceive graffiti to be about. Instead of being destructive vandalism and degradative to the community, in this case it did the complete opposite.
That said, I hope I have opened your mind up enough to warrant your interest of how to graffiti. This article isn't about the arguments concerning vandalism, nor to highlight its many comical, religious and often political uses, nor the controversies. No, this article is to urge you to learn how to graffiti. In doing so you open your mind up to the world of graffiti and its many branches and history (Yes, graffiti has a history!) Here are some simple steps to get you to begin learning just how to graffiti.
How to graffiti step 1 - Observation
In learning how to graffiti as in learning any new concept is all about observation. Find existing graffiti and copy it somehow. The best and most fun way to do this is take a walk around your city. If you live in a small town or village, take a trip into a city and spend the day hunting for street art. You're guaranteed to find some in most larger towns. Take photos and draw sketches while you're there. This will give you some basic hands on, up-close experience.
You can also obtain some great resources while learning how to graffiti online. Google images and other sites have large lists of some of the larger and cooler looking works as well as the basic stuff.
How to graffiti step 2 - Experimentation and Creativity
The next step is experimentation. 9 out of 10 graffiti artists started out with their tag. A tag is just a way of identifying yourself amongst the vast array of other artists out there. Usually it'll be your nickname or a variation of it. Using the photos/sketches and downloaded images you've collected, experiment with applying those styles to your tag. Use marker or pencil on paper at first until you've got the hang of it. Once you have some basic sketches you feel comfortable repeating, you can think about taking it further.
How to graffiti step 3 - Taking it further
If you're serious about graffiti as a hobby or maybe even a profession then you'll want to stock up on supplies and information. Get yourself a couple of books on the subject to copy and learn from. Shell out some cash for canvas, paints, card-boards, a respirator (very important) and of course spray-paints! Practice, practice, practice! This is a luxury a lot of people don't have because of the expense. But by buying cheap or discount paints and using your own spray system you'll elimate much of the cost. This will allow you to practice on selected canvases and in certain areas.
Eventually you'll want to take it onto the street. While some will advocate graffiti in public places illegally, this really isn't a wise idea. There are often places in major cities specifically for graffiti artists to experiment and practice their work. Search for such things in your local area. If you can't find any then don't worry. There are MANY ways to get your work out there legally. Often, after you have established yourself and have a means of proving your work, people and businesses will want to hire you for projects. Keep in mind that they wont hire you if you have a criminal record!