Monday, June 2, 2008


Graffiti burst onto the streets of New York in the late sixties and early seventies not long before it was taken to the subway system.  It began with kids writing their nicknames and the neighbourhoods they were from across the city, everywhere they could ‘get up’.  Taki 183 was the first known graffiti writer in NYC, his ‘tags’ or ‘handstyles’ as writers refer to them became widely known throughout the city and have been recognized for introducing graffiti the world.

Graffiti evolved from these tags to throwups with more dimensions and colors and from there graffiti pieces were created on the streets and subway cars.  These pieces carried with them characters and imagery and the letters were manipulated to give them a certain flow.  However, without handstyles none of the elaborate graffiti you see today would exist.

Handstyles are the building blocks of graffiti, without a good handstyle a writer will never be considered a good writer or ‘burner’ by his or her peers. Tag styles have evolved all over world with certain regions being renowned for their specific styles.  The ‘Cholo’ style that originated in California, was introduced by Mexican gangs and is still replicated to this day.  Below are many examples of the ‘Cholo’ tag style as demonstrated by world-renowned artist ‘Mike Giant’ whose graffiti and tattooing skills have translated across into hugely popular fine art.

Tags are bold and very effective when done properly, a good handstyle is just as effective and holds as much artistic merit to me as an elaborate piece with 50 colors.  Tags are simple you only get one chance to get it right, they are done under pressure and must be placed well and done with a degree of respect.

Like with any art there is the good, the bad and the ugly.  A bad handstyle is not easy on the eye and generally is looked poorly upon by the general pubic.  The same goes for a poorly placed tag, it is not appropriate to tag certain things and often young or people who have no knowledge of writing graffiti or have just found a spray can defile private property and  this does not portray graffiti in a respectable light.  That being said the public is still unbelievably ignorant to the art of handstyles to which graffiti art on a whole owes everything.



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