How To Create Your Own Tag
Design a unique logo, brand, moniker - it's easier then you think.
Graffiti is all about handwriting and calligraphy. Calligraphy is defined as the art of writing. In fact, graffiti artists call themselves
writers. Before you can learn to draw the big, fancy wildstyle letters,  you have to learn to "write", and that means you need to
create your own tag. Tags are those scribbles you see all over mailboxes and lamp posts (we are not suggesting that you write a
tag on anything but paper). In the 1970's, the insides of New York City subway trains were absolutely covered with them, layers
upon layers. It was crazy! This  iconic photograph of Lady Pink by Martha Cooper from the 1982 book, "Subway Art", pretty much
sums up what the city looked like back then
click here. That was the situation in those days. Nowadays the trains don't have any
tags, but you can see lots of tags on the internet.

Writers spend endless amounts of time and materials mastering their tags, and some tags are actually beautiful works of art, like a
carefully rendered Chinese character. So, what exactly is a tag? A tag is simply a signature. It is some form of nickname that can be
anything, a word that you like, your initials, letters and numbers, a secret code, or even a symbol. In a tag alphabet, letters tend to
bend or lean over to one side like
italics and are full of movement. You can find many examples of tag letters (fonts) on the net.
There are hundreds of different styles. What's really great is that you can type your name into a sample text box or preview box on
some of these font sites and see your name written in tag and graffiti style letters instantly for free. It's so easy.
Here's a few sites you can try. Click on links below:
myfonts.com
dafont.com
fontspace.com
urbanfonts.com
All of these websites have either graffiti fonts that you can buy or free fonts you can download to your computer.
Now, copy your starting point drawing on a fresh sheet of paper. Write it big.
Get yourself a stack of cheap, white copy paper and write it again. And again and again. You can even trace it in the
beginning, if you feel more comfortable. Put an empty box by your table and toss in the used pages. Try writing it different
ways. Make big curvy loops, if you like. Add an arrow underneath or at the end of a letter. You can mix up capitol and small
letters. Experiment, no one ever has to see your working sketches anyway. Draw a star or a heart as a dot for the letter "i",
or add an eye inside a letter. Try making one letter into an object, like a flower. Begin to experiment with interesting design
elements, such as one letter flowing into or attached to another letter. Try two letters back-to-back, or one lower or higher
than the rest. Make some bigger or smaller. Turn one letter side-wards or upside-down. Add quotation marks, a halo or an
exclamation point. Add underlines. Try to write the whole word without lifting your pen off the paper. The possibilities are
endless. Some people recommend starting your design on graph paper to keep the letters evenly sized. You can do that
instead of blank
copy paper, if you like.

Go back into the box and see if you like a detail from an earlier drawing that you want to use. Look at lots of examples of
graffiti on the web for ideas.  And just keep writing it. The idea is to begin to feel it get loose and get the letters to be
animated, expressive and have movement. I know it's not easy, but keep at it. I'd say write it at least 100 times. More if you
are ambitious. You can number the pages to keep track if you like. Numbering the pages also gives you a visual diary of your
design process (you don't have to do it all in one sitting). If you keep doing it, after a while it will begin to feel natural and
automatic. Something to do with neural memory traces in your brain, like a mouse memorizing a maze. Going through this
process will allow you to create a tag that is original and unique. Your tag will become your logo.

Here's a few examples from the series of sketches (embarrassing) that I did to get to my final tag. There's dozens more, even
worse than these, believe me. I did these when I first started learning graffiti, so they are a bit silly.
Click on images below to enlarge.
Now you are ready to create your own tag. To get
started, pick a tag name for yourself and write it out
on a sheet of white paper with a black magic marker,
using tag style letters.  Remember, it's really just like
any other kind of writing, but leaning over and more
exaggerated. Try it a few different ways. Pick one that
you like. That will be your template or starting point.
How To Create A Graffiti tag - Free Drawing Lesson
Eventually, you will get to a drawing that you are happy with and that will be your finished design (see #13 in the image
above). Next, thicken the lines a little like I did at #14. Just scribble over the letters to make them fatter. Then start to
neaten it up. Finally, switch to a wider marker or the side of a small piece of crayon and write it nice and neat. Or you can
tape 2 pencils together and write it with that, then go over all the pencil lines with a magic marker to thicken your lines. Or
you can trace it if you like, then try it freehand. These are not set rules, just a method that works for me.
TIP* Writing your finished tag with a chisel tip marker is the best thing to use, because it will give your lines varying
thickness, and make your letters more interesting.

Here's my finished tag. It's not too fancy, but you get the idea.  
It looks even better written with a drippy graffiti marker, called a mop.
How To Create A Graffiti Tag
I hope this has been helpful to you. E-mail me with any questions on our contact page or send us
your artwork to post on our community wall.
-LYSE
How To Create A Graffiti Tag - Free Drawing Lesson
To get an even better idea of what tagging is all
about, check out
Handselecta's YouTube Channel for
lots of amazing tags and
handstyles from legendary
graffiti masters.
Handstyle refers to the different
tagging styles of individual writers. As you can see,
tagging really is an art form. Find a tag that you like
and write it in the air several times to get the feel of it.
Try this exercise: Go to Mr. Wiggle's Tag Alphabets at his website click here.
You should see 3 lessons with 3 different letter styles.
Pick one and copy it from
A to Z several times for practice, freehand on a sheet of paper.

Or just copy the tag alphabets above. If you don't have a wide magic marker, just use a pencil or crayon. Don't worry
about making the letters perfect. I want to get you to start drawing. You can print and trace my 2 alphabets in the
beginning if that helps you. But then do it freehand.
You can have as many tag names as you like. Just follow the same formula and your next one will be even better.
The hardest part for me was seeing and thinking of letters as art objects, not just written text.
Once I made that mental shift, it got easier. Think of your tag as a beautiful ornament and work of art that you can
draw or paint on paper, your notebook, t-shirts, etc... It's your new logo. Scan it into your computer and paste it
into documents, personal stationary or e-mails.
Tag Alphabet - Free Drawing Lesson
Here's a sample tag alphabet. These alphabets are not perfect, just something to get you started. Click on image below to enlarge:
The Graffiti Taxonomy project by Evan Roth  is a fascinating examination of tag style letters taken from actual tags
around NYC. Take a look here
graffiti taxonomy. Set aside a few minutes to study this stuff. It's brilliant.
How To Create a Graffiti Tag - Free Drawing Lesson
Here is a video
on YouTube
that shows you
how to draw a
basic graffiti tag
alphabet.
tag alphabet
Tagging is a beautiful art form,
like Calligraphy, and should be
approached that way. It takes
lots of hard work and practice
to develop your skills to a level
you will be proud of.
Practice a lot and be patient
with yourself and eventually
you will get it.

IMPORTANT:
Only write your tags on paper.
graffiti tag alphabet
Now, try this exercise "How to draw a tag-style letter "M".
Click on this link for more free graffiti drawing lessons and handouts
Check out our new book "Learn To Draw A Graffiti Master-Piece" to learn to draw your own graffiti!!!
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