Tools of the Trade: Drips (Post 1)

Continuing my series on the influence of tools on lettering in graffiti and typography, my first topic is drips. Drips in tags are a really interesting example of the influence of tools in graffiti. While drips are undesirable in pieces or tags done with aerosol, as they show a lack of skill and experience in the use of the paint, they are created on purpose in some marker tags. In this case, they are created by homemade or commercial markers with tips specifically made or altered to put out large amounts of ink. In addition to the popularity of the way drips make a tag look, they also signify (at least historically) that the writer has a large supply of ink.


NEA and AVONE's drippy tags.

As the drips are created by the random and unpredictable flow of ink on the surface, they are fully a product of the tool. The writer can only control the amount of flow and speed of writing, both of which affect the drip pattern. However, the final result is dependent on the interaction of tool and surface. Although drips do not affect the basic shape of the letterforms in the same way as a broad tipped marker does, they do create a very recognizable overall look that can only be created with certain tools and techniques.

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