When you hear the word "graffiti" in the context of art and design, the names Banksy and Shepard Fairey probably come to mind right away. But only knowing those names is equivalent to only knowing the name Frank Gehry in the context of architecture! The modern street art scene is just as diverse and creative as the architecture scene. Here's a brief rundown on types of "graffiti" and some of my personal favorites.
Tagging has bad connotations in most cities due to its associations with gangs and gang violence, but tagging is the basis of the street art scene. Many graffiti artists get their start tagging and some continue to push the boundaries of putting life-size typography on a wall.
Stenciling involves cutting out the negative image of a design from paper, cardboard, or even metal, then using spray paint to fill in the holes. Stencils can be as small as a business card or as large as a building. This is a great way to transition for many artists and also one of the most fun, as the image can be repeated multiple times.
Wheatpasting is all about using wheatpaste glue, a mixture of flour and glue, to permanently adhere posters to walls.
Stickers are brilliant, little pieces of artwork commonly found on mail boxes, parking meters, and street signs. Easy to make in larger quantities and even easier to apply, stickers are a culture all of their own.
Street Art comes in many forms, from sculptures left on a street corner to painted electrical boxes, and from air vent balloon animals to crosswalk art. This may be considered the purest intersection between graffiti and classical art.
With the advancement of the street art movement has come advancement in materials as well. Krylon is no longer the paint of choice; instead, graffiti-specific brands like Ironlak and Belton are taking the graffiti world by storm.
Additionally, there are now dozens of spraypaint caps to choose from: thin, thick, special effects, and mixing caps.
Graffiti and street art can brighten up your day or challenge your thoughts about the current state of the world. The movement has always been at odds with authority, so the risk of removal gives graffiti a wonderful fleeting quality—here today, gone tomorrow. But a wall sand-blasted clean is just another new, blank canvas.