One of the most important design elements in graffiti art is the arrow. Arrows express movement and
energy. In her groundbreaking book “Tag Town”, Martha Cooper photographed vintage tags in her
Washington Heights neighborhood, still visible from the early 1970’s to 1980’s. Many of these tags
contained arrows (as well as stars, hearts and crowns). From studying the images of the early tags in
her book, we realized that the complex variations of arrows we see in today’s Wildstyle graffiti letter
forms originally developed from these simple, early tags. Wow!
WHY ARROWS ARE SO IMPORTANT IN GRAFFITI LETTERFORMS
An arrow is an internationally understood symbol that is used on signs to simply indicate direction, as in "Entrance" or
"Exit". In graffiti art, however, an arrow is a powerful, visual tool that is often combined with letters to give them motion
and energy. An arrow guides the eyes of the viewer in a specific direction. An arrow can project out from any side of a
letter, weaving in and out, backwards and forwards, and around in circles, across a two-dimensional surface, creating
depth and rhythm. Graffiti artist Ezo, once told us that every graffiti writer has his or her own arrow and it's true: the
variations and design possibilities of an arrow are endless. An arrow can be drawn in all shapes and sizes; thick and
chunky or long and spindly, pointy or squared, single or with multiple ends. An arrow can organically follow the flow and
direction of a letter, like a vine. Or it can blast off of the side from which it protrudes, like a missile, as in the artwork of
the RAMMELLZEE, which he called Gothic Futurism.
So, early graffiti writers incorporated simple arrows and other basic design elements into their tags to make them stand
out and command attention. From that simple beginning, the arrow has evolved into a complex and elaborate work of
art on its own. For example, graffiti writer and artist Mare 139 creates beautiful, 3-dimensional sheet-metal sculptures
that contain only arrows, with light and space as parts of his designs.
We think arrows are a fascinating and diverse element of graffiti letter forms, providing artists and students with
continuous possibilities for innovation and style. We totally love arrows.
Check out our new book to learn to draw your own graffiti arrows here!
If you want to be on our mailing list for free coloring pages and drawing lessons, fill out the contact form below.
|In these examples, you can see clearly how
the arrows were formed as part of the
letters themselves. The arrows flow
continuously from the ends of the strokes
of the letters.
|HOW TO DRAW GRAFFITI ARROWS
|To draw your own tag letters with
arrows, try this exercise below. Scroll
down this page to see
"How to draw a tag-style letter "M".
Then, let's take it one step further.
Choose a couple of "M's" that you drew
and add arrow heads coming off the
ends of the letters, following the
direction of the lines.
|MULTICULTURAL GRAFFITI ART
|How To Draw A Tag Letter "M"
Try this fun exercise if you are just starting out:
Scribble on a few blank sheets of paper to loosen up your hand. Then scribble the letter "M" a couple of times.
Then draw the letter "M" with a magic marker in as many different ways as you can think of. Lean it over to
the side, make it big and small, let the ends flair out, use your whole arm to write with, scribble some more,
keep drawing more "M's". When you've had enough, go through your sketches and pull out examples you
like. Now cut out the "M's", and arrange them on a large piece of paper or oaktag. Glue them down with white
glue or a glue stick. You'll have a tag letter "M" poster to hang up by your desk for inspiration.
STEP 1. Scribble on a couple of blank
sheets of cheap copy paper.
STEP 2. Draw the letter "M" with a magic
marker in as many different ways as you
can think of. Lean it over to the side,
make it big and small, let the ends flair
out, use your whole arm to write with,
scribble some more, then draw more
STEP 3. Go through your sketches and
choose examples that you like. Then cut
out the "M's", and arrange & glue them
onto a large piece of paper or oaktag.
|For a free hand-out of this
lesson, click on image to
enlarge and print
There is no right or wrong way to draw a tag letter. Tag letters come in all shapes and sizes. The
one thing they all have in common is that they are drawn freehand - no rulers or rules. Below you
can see some examples of tag letters we found on the internet. If you have never drawn a tag letter
and don't know where to start you can TRY THE EXERCISE ON THIS PAGE TO GET YOU STARTED.
|Examples of Tag Letter "M"
|© Graffiti Diplomacy 2009- 2018
All Rights Reserved
|LEARN TO DRAW GRAFFITI ART
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