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. Of course we are not suggesting that you write
a tag on anything but paper - we are talking about tagging as an artform only. In the 1970's, the insides of New York City subway
trains were absolutely covered with tags, 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. It's a beautiful picture. That was the
situation in those days. Subway riders were pretty upset and the mayor of New York City, Ed Koch, went to war with the graffiti
taggers and cleaned the trains. So now-a-days the trains don't have any tags, but you can still see plenty of them on the internet
and in graffiti art books! Our book
Why Write When You Can Tag has an excellent collection of authentic tags from the East Coast.

Writers spend endless amounts of time and materials mastering their tags, and some tags really are 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 and are full of motion. They can be curvy, square, or angular. You can find many examples of tag letters (or
fonts) on the internet. 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 websites and see your name written in graffiti tag style letters instantly for free. It's so easy.
All of the websites below have sample boxes you can try, with graffiti fonts you can buy or free fonts you can download to your
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. Make the letters sharp and
angular. Make them square and boxy. 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 sideways 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. It will only happen with repetition. 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. Please be advised, you don't have to do it all in one sitting. You can come
back to it and continue anytime. 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 a long time ago when I first started learning graffiti, so they are a bit silly. But you
can learn from them, so I am posting them anyway. 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 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. Use whatever
tool you want to thicken your lines. You can trace it or draw it freehand. These are not set rules, just a method that works
for me. #16 shows the finished tag all neatened up.

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, but it's not essential.

Here's my finished tag again below. It's not too fancy, but you get the idea. It looks even better drawn with a drippy graffiti
marker or mop (see some examples of drippy graffiti tags drawn with mops
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.
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 that you can draw or paint on paper, canvas, your
notebook, t-shirts, etc... You can even scan it into your computer and paste it into documents, personal stationary or
e-mails. There is no end to the fun you can have with your own, personally designed, original graffiti tag!
Tag Alphabet - Free Drawing Lesson
Here's two sample tag alphabets. These alphabets are not great, just something to get you started.
Click on images 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
tag alphabet
Tagging can be a beautiful art
form just like Calligraphy, and
should be approached that way. It
takes lots of hard work and
practice to develop your skills.
Practice a lot and be patient with
yourself and eventually you will
create a graffiti tag that you will
be proud of. You can use it as a
logo and put it on all of your stuff.

REMEMBER: Only write your tags
on paper.
graffiti tag alphabet
Now, try this exercise "How to draw a tag-style letter "M".
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Graffiti Diplomacy
If you are interested in learning to draw more graffiti, go to our graffiti lessons page and explore the wide assortment
of free techniques we offer to help you create your own graffiti letters.
Check out our new book "Learn To Draw A Graffiti Master-Piece" to learn to draw your own graffiti!!!
or our even newer book "Why Write When You Can Tag" to learn to draw your own tags!