The Graffiti Bridge would like to take this opportunity to give readers a sneak peek into the world of graffiti culture with a journey into the language of The Graffiti Bridge artists.
Modern day graffiti art has hundreds of words and phrases used to describe different graffiti fonts, styles, and aspects. For those of us who are new to the scene, here are a few phrases and descriptions you may find useful:
“Graffiti term ‘angel’ is most commonly used when referring to a famous or highly respected graffiti artist who has passed away. Graffiti writers who admire ‘angels’ tag their names with floating halos, make tribute pieces with their faces or write tags with the dates of their birth and death.
The term “King,” (or ‘queen’ for female writers) is a graffiti writer who is especially respected among other writers. Some people refer to different writers as kings of different graffiti styles. Typically only another king can give an artist the title of “King.”
In graffiti world, the term ‘married couple’ refers to two simultaneous train cars painted next to each other with a single painting evenly spread across both cars. Some graffiti artists cleverly twist the term by connecting the two paintings across the gap between the two cars, often in a humoristic or obvious way, in order to emphasize the marriage.
‘Heaven spot’, or ‘heaven’ in short, is a graffiti term which refers to dare devil graffiti pieces that are painted in places that are hard to reach, such as rooftops, overpasses, and freeway signs, thus making them hard to remove. Heaven spot pieces often pose dangerous challenges for graffiti writers to execute, but because of that, they increase an artist’s notoriety.
The graffiti term ‘piece’, short for masterpiece, is used to describe a large, complex, time-consuming and labor-intensive graffiti painting, usually painted by skilled and experienced writers. It is generally agreed that a painting must have at least three colors to be considered a piece, but ‘pieces’ often incorporate color transitions, shadows, and three-dimensional effects.
‘Tag’ is the most basic and the most prevalent form of graffiti. It is usually written with marker or spray paint and in one color, which is sharply contrasted with its background. Tag is a stylized personal signature and contains graffiti writer’s name, also known as a moniker. Graffiti writers often tag their pieces, following the practice of traditional artists who sign their artwork.
Back to Back
The term ‘back to back’ refers to graffiti that is painted all the way across a wall, from end to end. Similar to ‘back to back’ graffiti, trains sometimes receive ‘end to end’ paintings, often abbreviated as ‘e2e’, when a train car has been painted along its entire length.
‘Black book’, also called ‘piece book’, is a graffiti writer's’ sketchbook in which they draw and plan out potential graffiti works, but it can also be a book featuring a collection of tags written by other graffiti writers. Graffiti writers use their black books to perfect their style and save their ideas for possible later execution in public spaces.
‘Throw-up’ or ‘throwie’ is a widely referenced graffiti term, most commonly used to describe tag-like drawings of bubble letters designed for quick execution (we all know why), and usually consisting of artist’s name and only two colors.
And there you have it. A brief review of a few of the terms graffiti artist uses to complement, honor, and dis each other. The Graffiti Bridge hope you enjoyed this edition of Idioms and Lingo. If you did, please visit us at our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on twitter.