The Best Graffiti Artists of the 1970s in New York City

The 1970s are generally accepted to be the start of and the most vibrant time of graffiti. Trains were their canvas and spray cans their medium to make themselves known and show off their artistic ability. I found some great information about the most notorious, or infamous, graffiti artists of the 1970s in New York.

Bil Rock – He grew up in Manhattan’s Upper West Side and was the leader of the Rolling Thunder Writers. This group became one of the most respected artist groups in the graffiti community.

Daze – Daze was one of the graffiti artists that actually made a career of his art as well. He studied at the LaGuardia High School of Art and Design and was a huge comic book art fan. His love for this art type led him straight to the subway cars to make his mark as a graffiti artist. He says that it was always a game of trial and error. Sometimes your plan worked and other times it didn’t.

Lady Pink – Lady Pink is the most iconic and respected female graffiti artist in New York. She was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens. She broke out from the ‘box’ that men had created for women and was just interested in being an artist and a writer. Her style was characterized by surreal, other-worldly themes.

Kel – He got his name from his love of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes. He grew up in the South Bronx and had to steal paint to be able to do his graffiti. He enjoyed hanging out with other graffiti artists at the Writer’s Bench. He called it a social network.

Jon One – This artist started his art by imitating his favorite graffiti artists like Zephyr, Quik, Futura, and Mackie. He saw their work on his way to high school everyday and he started training himself to write graffiti by imitating their tags. His work was often focused on bad politics and the side effects of angel dust.

These five artists were some of the best graffiti artists in the 1970s and modern-day graffiti artists still respect and learn from their legacy. Graffiti has become a business and is used in marketing and many other areas. These artists made that possible.

What are the Common Characteristics of Graffiti Art?

Graffiti has become an art form, whether everyone can appreciate it or not. Some graffiti artists are the most talented artists that you will ever meet. The graffiti art form has a lot of its own styles and characteristics. Let’s have a look at some of the styles and terms.

Tag – A tag is how graffiti got started. It is the most basic form of graffiti and is basically the name of the artist. It is the most common type of graffiti art. The tag is usually made up of a nickname and a street number or other type of number. It can also be initials or even carry some hidden meaning.

Throw-up – This type of graffiti is more about speed than art. The artist will do a quick outline and fill-in with two or three colors only. Clearly, this style is used when time is of the essence. This is not the graffiti that you would necessarily call art.

Piece – A piece is a more elaborate design of the artist’s name. It can include stylized block or bubble letters and facial features or cartoon characters. More colors are used and this obviously takes a longer time than the more basic styles.

Blockbuster – The blockbuster style is often about blocking out a piece of wall to prevent other graffiti writers from painting the same wall. Large block letters are used with contrasting colors and you can find this style almost anywhere.

Wildstyle – This is a style that many people will recognize simply because they find it hard to read. This style was invented by a well-known artist who was one of the first graffiti artists in New York, Tracy 168. It is characterized by interlocking or overlapping letter, arrows, and connection points. If you are not familiar with the style, you will find it difficult to read.

When you drive by a graffiti wall, have a look and see if you can identify any of these styles. It truly is art and some of those pieces are done in the span of a few minutes.

How to Draw Graffiti and Create Your Own Style

Today, I would like to teach you how to draw simple graffiti. I am by no means encouraging you to break the law or get in trouble. Let’s rather start the practice on paper. As with any other art form, it takes practice to draw well and to have your graffiti look the way you want it.

1. Draw the Outline

Decide what word you want to use and draw it on a piece of paper. Generally, bubble letters work best, but this is your time to be creative. If you have created a tag for yourself, practice with that word and try different designs.

2. Outline with a Marker

When you are happy with your word and its basic outline, go over the outline with a marker to make it stand out. You don’t have to use a normal black marker. You can use whatever color you feel like.

3. Add Splashes and Dots

Now, use your marker to add splashes and dots to the outline to give it an edge and some character. Splashes and dots can be added to the top, sides, bottom, etc. Play with it. If you like what you have created, you can stop at this stage and start another one.

4. Add Shading

If you feel your word needs more work, then add shading. You can do this by simply making the lines underneath the word a bit thicker. As you get more experienced, you will find other ways to create shading and create 3D words.

5. Add Color

The last step is to add some color if you want. You can color the whole thing or you can just add some coloring to certain parts. It is your masterpiece and your time to be creative.

Creating graffiti takes time, but if you are really passionate about it, you will keep practicing. You can use your art to mark your books, create invitations, or even one day sell it to marketing companies. Enjoy!