Everthing you wanted to know about tag graffiti in less than 5 minutes read

tag graffiti in the street walls

According to EuropaPress, the Spanish public railway operator RENFE spends 15.7€ millions every year cleaning what writers paint in their wagons. Furthermore, tag graffiti might be observed as a problem by many institutions. However, what are they doing to prevent what they consider vandalism?

Where are the limit boundaries between what is considered art and what’s not? How is it possible that institutions from all over the world spend these amounts of money while street art gallery owners benefit from it?

Today’s article will bring you a clearer image of what urban art is. A group of experts will inform you about what’s not and what does the general audience think about.

  • Definition
  • People’s opinion
  • Tag graffiti history
  • Different styles

What is a tag in graffiti?

tag graffiti observed in Madrid
Tags painted over a metal door

We define tagging as the act of writing your tag graffiti name in the street walls, metal shutters or any other surface with spray paint, markers, chalk or any other commonly used product.

In the same vein, we would identify those people who tag in the walls as writers. There is no current pattern that they follow. Artists always carry a half-full spray can or any other spare element in their bags. If they see somewhere appropriate where to paint, they do it. Any time of the day/night is good for it!

These graffiti writers follow ethic codes and share ideas, styles and techniques all over the world. Moreover, they are connected. Every time one artist visits a foreign country, he/she contacts fellow friends in order to find the best spots in the city they are travelling to.

What’s the global population opinion over the graffiti movement?

removing a tag in NYC
City council worker removing a tag in New York city

In general terms, there exists a profound negative mentality towards tag graffiti. Societies from the 5 continents observe ‘tags’ (graffiti names written on walls) as a filthy art expression. Likewise, writers are prosecuted.

The Spanish Civil Code penalizes them through the articles 1.902, 1.903 and 1.904. Similarly, articles 50, 116, 263, 264, 625 and 626 in the national Penal Code blame graffiti artists who act without permission from business or building owners.

It is also interesting to mention people’s point of view when talking about street art. They love it. Citizens from all ages think that these kind of artworks embellish the city and offer a colorful perspective in the urban landscapes.

How many styles of a tag graffiti does there exist?

painted vehicle
Many different graffiti tags painted in a vehicle in Madrid, Spain

The art industry has observed as the tag graffiti movement evolved from its beginnings. Artists started using low quality materials and paint manufacturers improved the products that writers use in a daily way. Nonetheless, they believe in the same core values.

In addition, the styles that we are talking about to you today are spread all over the world. Similarly, shops focus on selling dabbers, markers, spray paint from different brands. We could differenciate between European and American elements.

What’s the history behind ‘graffiti tags’?

The first tags observed in modern history correspond to a writer named Cornbread (Philadelphia, US – 1965). Despite the fact that there were others who painted before him, none of the them made it to the news and remained unknown.

The movement travelled from one state to another. Soon, there were other tags which appeared in New York city. Artists copied the same tagging technique, ‘bombing’ one of the most famous capital cities around the world. Please note that the term ‘bombing’ is not related to terrorist attacks, but a series of tags painted in a short period of time.

Taki 183, Cay 161, Papo 184, Barbara and Eva 62 were some of the names that Francisco Reyes, a Spanish Phd graffiti professor at Complutense University in Madrid mentioned in his doctoral thesis.

1-. Brodway Elegant

It was the year 1967. Young kids started tagging on walls their names, plus the number of the street they lived in. The artist Top Cat 126 moved from Philadelphia to New York city. We consider him as the pioneer for this tag graffiti style.

‘Broadway Elegant’ was born. It was also known as Manhattan Style, because it marks the first typographic wave within New York City graffiti history.

This specific style featured long slender letters, which often had platforms on the bottoms of the stems. Broadway Elegant was named after the famous New York City Broadway boulevard which bends from Brooklyn through Manhattan al the way up to Yonkers.

You have to imagine that graffiti styles also differentiated crews/gangs from closeby neighborhoods.

2-. Brooklyn

Similarly to what happened in other districts in NYC, Brooklyn based tag graffiti writers developed their own style. As you may be aware, it was the beginning of an artistic war. Young kids tried to create better lettering than the rest.

How did it differentiated from the rest? Artists used arrows, circles, spirals and even hearts to decorate their writing style. Letters were separated from each other and it was easier to recognize the person who tagged.

3-. Bronx style

phase2 bronx graffiti NYC
Image courtesy of Rob Larsen

A logical response to the sensual thin lines of the Broadway Elegant style was the introduction of Bronx Style, also known as bubble letters. We consider the artist Phase 2 as the pioneer of this unique tagging style.

Lonny Wood was the name behind Phase2. Why did he use that tag graffiti then? It was because of the success of a graffiti styles meeting that he organized. Observing that there was a second chapter, he decided to start ‘bombing’ the streets with that given alias.

It was in the corner of 149th and Grand Concourse where all writers met after/before high school. They could easily observe trains passing by. It was the beginning of train writing with bubble lettering.

Cooltourspain opinion about the tag graffiti

Last but not least, Cooltourspain team members wanted to share with the internet community our thoughts about tag graffiti. We believe that if the city council would allow and promote graffiti in each different neighborhood, vandalism would decrease.

Is that difficult for city majors and their cultural government members to allow some walls where people could just paint without being prosecuted?

Help us sign the petition to paint the walls in our neighborhood!

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