All about graffiti art and how to use it in your designs.
What is graffiti art?
The term ‘graffiti art’ describes images, text, and illustrations that are painted on walls or the sides of buildings – usually without permission. Originating in the 1960s, the art of graffiti itself was initially considered vandalism, but it’s now more widely recognised as artwork.
Graffiti art samples techniques and methodologies from street graffiti and applies them to other mediums, which can then be bought, sold, and exhibited in different environments. Famous graffiti artists include Cornbread, Daze, and Banksy.
Want to know more about graffiti art? Continue reading this handy guide to get a better insight into the style and elements of this edgy craft. Use our free graffiti art templates to make your own graffiti inspired posters, flyers, invites and more.
Key characteristics of graffiti street and wall art.
Graffiti art is described as a radical contemporary art movement. It takes inspiration from other movements such as Pop Art, Abstract Expressionist and Surrealism, which are known for their loud, quirky nature, and bright colours.
If you’re wondering what’s the difference between graffiti and street art – graffiti is normally word based, while street art is more centred upon images. Graffiti art is recognised as an amalgamation of the two.
Graffiti is characterised by colours, intricate patterns, and is typically used to convey a political or social message. This art style tends to feature loud, bold, 3D letters. Tagging is a traditional form of graffiti, which involves artists using a single symbol, word, or series of letters as their personal signature. Images and illustrations are also commonly used, especially cartoons.
Examples of famous graffiti street art include:
- Balloon Girl by Banksy - Shoreditch, London, England
- The Giant of Boston by Os Gêmeos – Boston, Massachusetts
- The Purple Shall Govern by Shepard Fairey - Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa
- NorthWest Walls Festival by Pichi and avo – Belgium
- V-J Day in Times Square by Eduardo Kobra – Times Square, New York
How to make graffiti art designs with Adobe Express.
Want to have go at creating some of your own cool graffiti art? You can do all this and more with Adobe Express. Put together your own posters, cards, ads, or flyers and make them stand out with some jazzy graffiti.
Here are some top tips for creating easy graffiti art designs:
Give your work a message.
Graffiti is all about messaging and conveying a certain idea or concept through art. Think about the message that you want to put across and make this the focal point of everything that comes afterwards.
Whether you’re saying ‘happy birthday’ in a card, creating a brand social post that stands out on a newsfeed, or trying to present your business USP in an attention-grabbing logo, you can use graffiti to communicate information through words, images, illustrations, and designs.
Go bold with your font.
Bold fonts are a key element of graffiti art, so work these in where you can. Make one word bold and add some colour and designs around it or make a collage of bold graffiti art letters and words to really make a statement. You can even use 3D letters to show your creativity.
Match this with some striking colours and you’ll have all you need to make your project pop!
Create a sense of fun, movement, and energy,
The font and colours you use in your design will have a big impact. You should also consider where you’re placing them. Ideally, everything should flow together nicely, making a bold statement. However, avoid having too much in the frame, as this can cause visual clutter and take away from the main message of the text.
Choose colours that go together, like pink and orange, but don’t be afraid to add a pop of colour to create an effective contrast.
Merge shapes and text.
With graffiti art, you don’t have to stick to just letters and words. Add in some shapes and structures to take your project to a whole new level. This is particularly useful if it ties in with your key messaging. For example, a storage company creating a print ad with graffiti art could add in some squares to signify moving boxes.
It’s also popular for shapes to be integrated into fonts themselves. Do this by getting creative with edges and lines.
Graffiti art isn’t meant to be quiet and understated. It’s meant to be bold and impactful – something that people remember. One way to do this is by scaling up your design and going big.
You can achieve this by making the fonts and shapes bigger or increase the size of the overall project. Either way, adding some size to your design will help to make your key message more apparent. This is especially useful in ads, flyers, and logos.
Common graffiti art letters and fonts.
When it comes to graffiti and creating your own cool graffiti art designs, you’re encouraged to let your creativity flow and choose fonts and letters that best suit your messaging and theme. There are a few types of font and street art graffiti letters that are used more commonly than others, though. These include:
- Bubble letters – Great for creating a fun, informal theme.
- Wildstyle – Ideal for specialised audiences, as it’s often unrecognisable to the average spectator. It involves using complex font designs that are stretched, twisted, and ornamented.
- Stencils – Often used to communicate thought-provoking social or political messages, the font is especially suitable for flyers and social posts.
Here are some Adobe fonts to weave into your own graffiti art:
Graffiti art colours and patterns.
In the past, graffiti artists were limited with their colour choices, but things are totally different now. With platforms like Adobe Express offering a multitude of colours and patterns for you to use, you’ll never be short on options.
Colour is important in graffiti art, as it can help to emphasise the key messages in your text. Common hue combinations like black and white, blue and green, and yellow and pink are popular for graffiti art designs.
You’ll also need to think about how you use the colours and patterns you choose.
Common colour features include:
- Contrasting outlines and fill colours – This makes your messaging easier to read.
- High coverage colours – These are great if you need to create a design quickly.
- Use fading - Select various colours and fade them into each other to create an effortless gradient.
Useful things to know.
Is graffiti art?
Yes, graffiti is considered an artform, although it was thought to be vandalism in previous decades. Nevertheless, graffiti art has evolved over the years and is now appreciated as a form of human symbolic expression. Today, the popular style of art is used to convey everything from political messaging to brand promotion.
What’s the difference between graffiti and street art?
The terms ‘graffiti’ and ‘street art’ are often used interchangeably. However, graffiti conventionally has negative connotations as it was originally seen as illegal writing on public spaces. Street art, however, is a broader and more accepted term for publicly shown art like murals and sculptures. Both artforms are the inspiration behind contemporary graffiti art.
When did graffiti art start?
Graffiti art started in the 1960s, in the city of Philadelphia. Darryl McCray, also known as ‘Cornbread’, is recognised as the Godfather of graffiti. The artform rose in popularity during the 1970s in New York. Young people would use spray paint to create images and messages on public buildings and on the sides of subway trains.