This is a really interesting and fun site to play around with. Look through tons of tags and compare letters. It shows each one as a black and white isolated tag with a letter highlighted in red, then as full color photos after you select it individually. It could be a great reference tool as well.
On April 8, 2011 I worked the Sticker Phiends show at Cartel Coffee Lab in Tempe, AZ. It was a great show with some amazing work by street artists, graphic designers and graffiti writers. It made me feel a bit better about the Phoenix art scene, although it’s still no New York , of course. I guess like everything else here, it’s not that good things (art, food, etc.) don’t exist, it just takes a lot more effort to find them. But enough of my homesick ranting, I loved that the show was such a great fusion of street art, writing, and graphic design (and I got free stickers!). I stayed pretty busy all night and didn’t get to take any photos, but there are some good ones on the Sticker Phiends site http://www.stickerphiends.com/
As I haven’t actually posted any of my work so far, I thought I’d post some pictures of some of my canvases. These are all from a few years ago, I’ve been focusing on my graphic design work for awhile, but I’m finally getting back to doing canvas pieces. I also got a pack of On The Run paint markers for Christmas, so I’ve been looking for places to use them. These pieces were done with a combination of aerosol, acrylic, and paint markers, and most of them are pretty small. The series with single letters was meant to be part of an entire alphabet. If I can find the same canvases again I will probably complete it at some point. Unfortunately, some of them were damaged a little while I was transporting them. I will probably be posting more as I unpack my stuff from New York, and as I complete more pieces.
So, I haven’t updated in awhile. This blog was started as part of my thesis at Pratt Institute, but unfortunately after I finished the project I kind of abandoned it. I got a bit burnt out on the whole thing and wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with it, or what direction I wanted to take it in. I also felt a little restricted by the goals and requirements of the project, but now I’m free to take this blog in whatever direction I want. I also moved from Brooklyn back to my hometown of Phoenix, Arizona a few months ago. While I’m trying to make the best of my time here I really miss New York and I’m hoping to move back at some point. So for now I’ll be talking about type and graffiti related subjects from a slightly different perspective.
Just so this post has something other than me talking about myself, here’s a recent photo from downtown Phoenix. I’m not sure who this writer is, but I’ve seen a lot of his work around and I like it. There’s a photo of another of his pieces in my earlier post about Just Blazed.
Marian Bantjes does these amazing lettering pieces and illustrations. She uses a wide variety of media in her work (even creating letters out of sugar). Her beautifully elaborate scripts and ornamented letters remind me, if not in style at least in concept, of graffiti pieces. See more on her website: http://www.bantjes.com/
Handselecta is a type foundry that turns graffiti handstyles into typefaces. The founders both have backgrounds in graffiti and are working with other writers to turn their work into typefaces. They seem to be some of the few people making quality graffiti typefaces, and taking the idea beyond novelty fonts. As they say on the “Thesis” page of the Handselecta website,
Our intent is to intelligently extend the art form of graffiti into the world of typography and graphic design…Just as calligraphy was the inspiration for type designers of generations past, today’s urban glyphs are the inspiration for a new typography of tomorrow.
I’m interested in what others from the type and graffiti communities have to say about past and present “graffiti fonts,” please post a comment if you have any thoughts.
I’ve been a fan of Revs’ work for awhile. He started in the 80s and has been an influential figure in the graffiti world. From his roller letters and subway tunnel journal pieces to his graffiti sculptures, his work always stands out. Although I like the variety of styles and media he uses, I think his sculptures are some of his most interesting work. I really like the idea of sculptures as graffiti, as well as the way he has turned the letters of his name into 3D objects.
I recently discovered this artist’s website and found that his goals sound pretty familiar. He is a fine artist whose work is influenced by both graffiti and typography. According to his website:
Armogedon’s work is a collaboration of typographic elements and exploration with the formal structure of graffiti . By looking at graffiti and studying typography’s visual commonalities as lettering, much can be discovered and revealed. As graffiti matures and diversifies, more and more of it’s aesthetics filters into contemporary art. It has gained acceptance in popular culture at large and now comfortably accepted as a contemporary mode of communication. Graffiti has mass appeal due to its illegality and excitement. Typography is omnipresent in today’s PC-based information society. Armogedon is Striving to blur the line of typography and graffiti striving to find relationships between the two forms of communication.
I find Armogedon 2057’s pieces very interesting (in a good way) especially because he seems to be using shapes and colors of a contemporary three-dimensional looking style of graffiti without necessarily using letters. It’s great to see that there are other people out there with similar goals to mine using different approaches.
You can see more of his work on his website: http://www.armo1.com/home.html
Here’s an interesting typeface from relatively recent history. Beowolf is an experimental typeface that’s an exception to the rule of standardization in typography. Each printed letter’s outline is randomized, making it different from others of the same letter.
PostScript allows the designer to build a font program that modifies, changes or switches letterforms. Beowolf is the first font (1989) we build with a randomisation routine. All points on the contour of a (fairly) normal typeface are given a space in which they can freely move. So instead of each letter having one fixed form, the shapes move and wobble. Every single letter this typeface will print will be unique. If characters are repeated in a text they will have different shapes.
It’s an interesting example of intentional irregularity in a digital typeface. One of the biggest differences between graffiti and typography is the standardization of the letters. While Beowolf’s irregularity is computer generated rather than handwritten/painted, it is an important exception that crosses one of the usual boundaries between graffiti and typography.
Ambigrams are words that can be read from multiple angles, generally they can be flipped and read as the same or another word. They may not really be type in the same way as a typeface, but because each letter is designed as part of the specific ambigram, they share some interesting similarities with graffiti pieces. As in a piece, the letters must be consistent and work in relation to each other only within the word they form, rather than as an entire alphabet. While I’m not aware of any graffiti ambigrams, it seems like there is the potential for them.
John Langdon is one of the most well known creators of ambigrams, and his site has some great examples. http://www.johnlangdon.net/ambigrams/