10 Graffiti Terms and Their Meaning | Widewalls (2022)

Top Lists, Graffiti & Street Art

October 16, 2014

Matt Randal

(Video) A-Z GRAFFITI SLANG // MUST KNOW WORDS for anyone getting into graffiti!!

Just like any other subculture, graffiti and street art have their own specific language and terms, with hundreds of words and phrases used to describe different graffiti fonts, styles and aspects. As it is the case with other jargons or colloquialisms, some phrases and words used in the world of graffiti are region-specific and they vary in different cities and countries.

Today, we take a look at ten most commonly used graffiti slang words. We have described the origins of each term, the meaning it has in graffiti world and its current application to the graffiti culture.

Angel

Graffiti term 'angel' is most commonly used when referring to a famous or highly respected graffiti artist who has passed away. Graffiti writers who admire 'angels' tag their names with floating halos, make tribute pieces with their faces or write tags with the dates of their birth and death. Featured is the photograph of Banksy's 'angel', a tribute mural piece he did in the memory of graffiti writer Ozone who was tragically killed by a moving train. It was painted on the same wall on which Banksy and Ozone had a small artistic dispute when Ozone painted over one of Banksy's pieces.

Find available artworks by Banksy on Widewalls marketplace!

King

'King' (or 'queen' for female writers) is a graffiti writer who is especially respected among other writers. Some people refer to different writers as kings of different graffiti styles,and the term is regionally subjective.Self-declared kings often incorporate crowns into their pieces but other writers tend to slash them out if they have not gained that rank in their eyes. Typically a writer can only become a king if another king has called him a king. Featured photograph is of a graffiti painted by Team Robbo on the piece of the London wall, which was the battle ground in a graffiti war waged between King Robbo and Banksy.

Married Couple

'Married couple' is an older subway term, originated from New York City and used to describe two subway cars which are permanently coupled, identified by their consecutive numbers and the shared single air compressor and electrical generator between them. In graffiti world, the term 'married couple' refers to two simultaneous train cars painted next to each other with a single painting evenly spread across both cars. Some graffiti artists cleverly twist the term by connecting the two paintings across the gap between the two cars, often in a humoristic or obvious way, in order to emphasize the marriage.

Heaven Spot

'Heaven spot', or 'heaven' in short, is a graffiti term which refers to dare devil graffiti pieces that are painted in places that are hard to reach, such as rooftops, overpasses and freeway signs, thus making them hard to remove. Heaven spot pieces often pose dangerous challenges for graffiti writers to execute, but because of that, they increase an artist's notoriety. The term 'heaven spot' also encompasses a double meaning, as writing on dangerous locations may lead to accidents and result in artist's death, thus going to heaven, or 'hitting up the heavens'.

(Video) 10 Types of Graffiti

Piece

The graffiti term 'piece', short of masterpiece, is used to describe a large, complex, time-consuming and labor-intensive graffiti painting, usually painted by skilled and experienced writers. It is generally agreed that a painting must have at least three colors to be considered a graffiti piece, but 'pieces' often incorporate color transitions, shadows and three-dimensional effects. The word 'piece' is also used as a verb meaning 'to write'. Featured photograph is of a wonderful piece by the graffiti artist Risk (ACT crew) painted in Sheffield, UK, which sadly does not exist anymore as the disused building it was painted on was demolished to make place for a new housing project.

Interested in graffiti pieces? Check out available works by RISK at our marketplace!

Tag

Tag is the most basic and the most prevalent form of graffiti. It can be treated as an essential answer to the question 'What does graffiti mean?', and it's certainly the most famous embodiment of graffiti culture. Graffiti tag is usually written with marker or spray paint and in one color, which is sharply contrasted with its background. Tag is a stylized personal signature and contains graffiti writer's name, also known as a moniker. Graffiti writers often tag their pieces, following the practice of traditional artists who sign their artwork. Since the beginning of tagging in the mid twentieth century, individual graffiti scenes have developed very different forms of tagging that are unique to specific regions. The word 'tag' is also very widely used as a verb meaning 'to sign', even in other, non-graffiti related types of occasions.

Back to Back

The term 'back to back' refers to graffiti piece that is painted all the way across a wall, from end to end. Similar to 'back to back' graffiti, trains sometimes receive 'end to end' paintings, often abbreviated as 'e2e',when a train car has been painted along its entire length. 'End to end' graffiti were used to be called 'window-downs', but this is an older expression that is fading from popularity. The meaning of this graffiti term can be expanded, as 'Back to back' is also widely used to describe 'throw-up' graffiti that are painted one after another.

Black Book

'Black book', also called 'piece book', is a graffiti writers' sketch book in which they draw and plan out potential graffiti works, but it can also be a book featuring a collection of tags written by other graffiti writers. Graffiti writers use their black books to perfect their style and save their ideas for possible later execution in public spaces. Quality black book, made of thick pages so the ink does not run, is a must have for any graffiti artist, and can be bought for a fair price at art supply stores. As it can be used as material evidence in cases asking "is graffiti art or vandalism", the writers carefully guard their black books from the possible seizure by the police and city authorities.

Throw-Up

'Throw-up' or 'throwie' is a widely referenced graffiti term, most commonly used to describe tag-like drawings of bubble letters designed for quick execution (we all know why) of graffiti words, and usually consisting of artist's name and only two colors. More strictly, it's meaning in subway art is described as an outlined name painted quickly with only one layer of spraypaint, even though many consider it to be bubble letters of any sort. Featured image is of the famous Panic Room byTilt, meticulously painted throw-up intervention he did in the Au Vieux Panier hotel in Marseille, France. Another famous and highly representative throw-up graffiti artist is a New York City street art legend Cope2.

(Video) List of Headings | EASY METHOD | graffiti reading answers | How to do IELTS LIST OF HEADINGS @IELTS

Whole Train

The meaning of the term 'whole train' is quite self-explanatory in the graffiti world. It is used to describe train cars which have been completely covered in graffiti, from the first to the last car of the train composition. Being an extremely demanding artistic intervention, whole train painting demands a group effort and it is usually executed by multiple artists or graffiti crews. As in any other group activities, the diversity of styles employed by different artists yields wonderful results, and it is one of the most respected forms of graffiti art as it involves patient, time limited work and represents a great risk of getting caught by the police.

All images for illustrative purposes only

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FAQs

What is vomit graffiti? ›

'Throw-up' or 'throwie' is a widely referenced graffiti term, most commonly used to describe tag-like drawings of bubble letters designed for quick execution (we all know why) of graffiti words, and usually consisting of artist's name and only two colors.

What do graffiti tags mean? ›

Graffiti can describe any writings or drawings created on a surface in a public space. Tagging refers explicitly to writing the artist's signature (or their pseudonym name or logo) on a public surface. This distinct signature is known as a “tag”, and the artist is referred to colloquially as a “tagger”.

What does X3 mean in graffiti? ›

X3 translates to 13, representing M, the 13th letter of the alphabet.

What are the 3 main types of graffiti? ›

Types of graffiti.
  • Tag. Tagging is the easiest and simplest style of graffiti; it includes one colour and the artist's name or identifier. ...
  • Throw-up or a bomb. Sometimes called a "throwie" is a simple form of graffiti, sitting between a tag and a bomb. ...
  • Letters. Letters can be different styles. ...
  • Piece or character.

What does X4 mean in graffiti? ›

"X4," "4," and "XIV" = symbolic of the number 14 ("X" signifies the number 10) believed to come from the letter "N" as the fourteenth letter in the alphabet. Shorthand for the Norteños

Norteños
Norteños (Spanish: [noɾˈteɲos] meaning Northerners; Norteñas for females) are the various, affiliated gangs that pay tribute to Nuestra Familia while in California state and federal correctional facilities. Norteños may refer to Northern California as Norte Califas.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Norteños
.

What are the 7 types of public art? ›

Public art can include murals, sculpture, memorials, integrated architectural or landscape architectural work, community art, digital new media, and even performances and festivals!

What are the 7 types of painting? ›

Types of Painting Styles
  • Realism. Realism is a painting art style that aims to give the viewer a reflection of the real world. ...
  • Photorealism. You may also see photorealism referred to as hyperrealism or super-realism. ...
  • Expressionism. ...
  • Impressionism. ...
  • Abstract. ...
  • Surrealism. ...
  • Pop Art. ...
  • Oil.
22 Sept 2021

What does FTP mean in graffiti? ›

ACAB: All cops are bastards. BLM: Black lives matter — an activist movement as well as a slogan for protesters. FTP: F–k the police.

What does wasp mean in graffiti? ›

Apparently "WASP" is "White Anglo Saxon Protestant" Not sure about "CAMS". It seems to be almost a tradition in Portugal where, as I believe, the walls were used as communication during the carnation revolution when the dictatorship was peacefully overthrown.

What are mops graffiti? ›

Dauber markers, otherwise known as Mops or Squeezers, are markers with a squeezable body that allow for extra ink or paint to be pushed out of the marker nib while writing, the excess in paint or ink causes those fun graffiti drips.

What does 12 graffiti mean? ›

Here's a guide to what some of the acronyms and slang mean: • 12: A reference for police. There are conflicting accounts about where it came from. Some believe it references the police drama “Adam-12” that ran from 1968 to 1975.

What are the 4 R's of graffiti? ›

It's one way to send the message that gangs are not wanted. 'There are four 'r's' we try to remember with graffiti. You read it, you report it, we record it and we remove it,' he said. 'We want to do those things swiftly because we want to get that advertisement for that gang out of that neighborhood.

What do halos mean in graffiti? ›

angels. Famous or respected graffitist who have died. The people who admire them tag their names on a wall with halos above them or make tribute pieces with their faces or tag with the dates of their birth to death.

What does MSK mean in graffiti? ›

Speaking with the Original MSK — Manhattan Subway Kings — in Inwood.

What is a 27 gangster? ›

Known as the men of blood, and the most violent of the Numbers, the 27s are the most secretive members of the secretive sub-culture of the prison gangs. The 27s monitor and enforce the laws and codes of the Numbers, and may negotiate and mediate between the 26s and the 28s.

What is graffiti in simple terms? ›

graffiti, form of visual communication, usually illegal, involving the unauthorized marking of public space by an individual or group. Although the common image of graffiti is a stylistic symbol or phrase spray-painted on a wall by a member of a street gang, some graffiti is not gang-related.

Who is the father of graffiti? ›

It is quite possible that there would be no graffiti history as we know it, for Darryl McCray, who was given the nickname Cornbread while in a juvenile corrections facility, is widely regarded as the father of modern day graffiti.

What is the easiest graffiti? ›

The easiest and simplest of graffiti styles, tagging is where it all started. It is essentially the artist's name or identifier in written form and uses at least one colour. It is considered disrespectful to write a tag over another's artist's tag or work.

What does X3 mean? ›

"Cute face" is the most common definition for X3 on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok. X3. Definition: Cute face.

What does 4B stand for? ›

AcronymDefinition
4BMortuary Procedure (police incident code; New Zealand)
4BFour Binary

What does 1 up mean in graffiti? ›

1UP are one of the most well-known graffiti crews in the world. Hailing from Berlin, their name is an acronym for "One United Power", and they're known for their uniquely ambitious acts of vandalism—like painting abandoned ships outside of Athens, for example, or entire carriages of the U-Bahn train system in Berlin.

What are the 63 arts? ›

They are:
  • Geet vidya: singing.
  • Vadya vidya: playing on musical instruments.
  • Nritya vidya: dancing.
  • Natya vidya: theatricals.
  • alekhya vidya: painting.
  • viseshakacchedya vidya: painting the face and body with color.
  • tandula-kusuma-bali-vikara: preparing offerings from rice and flowers.

What are your 7 elements of art? ›

ELEMENTS OF ART: The visual components of color, form, line, shape, space, texture, and value.

What are 4 types of art? ›

Some view literature, painting, sculpture, and music as the main four arts, of which the others are derivative; drama is literature with acting, dance is music expressed through motion, and song is music with literature and voice.

What are the 8 themes of painting? ›

WHAT ARE THE 8 THEMES OF ART?
  • Personal expression. . ...
  • Religious. . ...
  • Stories and History. . ...
  • The Natural World. . ...
  • Politics and social order. . ...
  • Scenes of everyday life. . ...
  • Fantasy. . ...
  • Conflict and Adversity. .

What are the 4 main types of paint? ›

Emulsion, satin, gloss and matt paint are often water-based and are great for interior walls, windows, doors and painting skirting boards.

What are the 5 elements of painting? ›

Traditional way of looking at art, namely the visual arts, suggests that there are five basic elements of an art work – line, shape, color, texture and space.

What does PW meaning? ›

pw is used especially when stating the weekly cost of something. pw is the written abbreviation for 'per week'.

What is WSP in slang? ›

The most common WSP definition is “what's up,” and it's used in texting and social media. “What's up?” is an informal way to ask how someone is and what they're doing. Typically, the appropriate response is “nothing much” or “not much,” which can both be abbreviated to NM.

What is PSD in slang? ›

Summary of Key Points. "Photoshop Data file" is the most common definition for PSD on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

What does queen WASP mean? ›

What is a queen wasp? The queen wasp is essentially the leader of the nest, and her main role is to lay eggs. She has bright yellow and black stripes, with a triangle-shaped head, a distinctive 'waist' and a sharp pointy sting.

What does calling a woman a WASP mean? ›

According to Urban Dictionary WASP stands for White Anglo-Saxon Protestant. The word WASP often refers to affluent people living in the New England area, and is used mostly to poke fun of those who fall under the WASP definition.

What does Waspy mean in slang? ›

waspy (comparative more waspy, superlative most waspy) (slang) Like a wasp (white Anglo-Saxon Protestant), a member of the dominant American upper-class culture.

What does a crown in graffiti mean? ›

Crowns - king (professional, or widely known graffer that has earned a tremendouse ammount of respect and has aquired imense skill)

What is flow in graffiti? ›

How To Graffiti : FLOW - All You Need To Know - YouTube

What does Mrs MOPS mean? ›

Mrs Mop in British English

noun. informal. a cleaning lady. Collins English Dictionary.

What are some good words for graffiti? ›

graffiti
  • defacement.
  • doodles.
  • cave painting.
  • scribbling.

Does 5 Points graffiti still exist? ›

Just across Newtown Creek in Long Island City stood an abandoned industrial site that many considered the world's greatest treasury of graffiti art. Tragically demolished in 2013, the world-famous Five Pointz consisted of twelve factory buildings ranging in height from a single story to five floors.

What are the unwritten rules of graffiti? ›

  • Don't snitch. ...
  • Don't write on religious buildings or war memorials. ...
  • Don't write on houses. ...
  • Don't write on cars. ...
  • Don't go over someone who's been in the game longer than you. ...
  • Throw-ups over tags, pieces over throw-ups, burners over pieces. ...
  • Never paint over a dead writer's work. ...
  • Never paint over a tribute piece.
16 Jun 2022

What does FTP mean in graffiti? ›

ACAB: All cops are bastards. BLM: Black lives matter — an activist movement as well as a slogan for protesters. FTP: F–k the police.

What does wasp mean in graffiti? ›

Apparently "WASP" is "White Anglo Saxon Protestant" Not sure about "CAMS". It seems to be almost a tradition in Portugal where, as I believe, the walls were used as communication during the carnation revolution when the dictatorship was peacefully overthrown.

What is a graffiti person called? ›

One who produces graffiti is known as a: graffitist.

What does X4 mean in graffiti? ›

"X4," "4," and "XIV" = symbolic of the number 14 ("X" signifies the number 10) believed to come from the letter "N" as the fourteenth letter in the alphabet. Shorthand for the Norteños

Norteños
Norteños (Spanish: [noɾˈteɲos] meaning Northerners; Norteñas for females) are the various, affiliated gangs that pay tribute to Nuestra Familia while in California state and federal correctional facilities. Norteños may refer to Northern California as Norte Califas.
https://en.wikipedia.org › wiki › Norteños
.

What is the oldest piece of graffiti? ›

The earliest graffiti was created prior to written language and the first drawings on walls appeared in caves thousands of years ago. “Cueva de las Manos” (The Cave of Hands), located in Santa Cruz, Argentina, offers one of the first fascinating ancient graffiti. The painting dates from 13,000 to 9,000 BCE.

What does a crown mean in graffiti? ›

Crowns - king (professional, or widely known graffer that has earned a tremendouse ammount of respect and has aquired imense skill)

What are the 4 R's of graffiti? ›

It's one way to send the message that gangs are not wanted. 'There are four 'r's' we try to remember with graffiti. You read it, you report it, we record it and we remove it,' he said. 'We want to do those things swiftly because we want to get that advertisement for that gang out of that neighborhood.

Is there a graffiti language? ›

Modern graffiti is a language largely developed in urban centers like New York City, starting in the 1970s. During that time, funding for arts education in public schools was down. Kids started tagging walls and subway cars as a form of self expression. “Media called it graffiti, but we called it writing.

What is the simplest type of graffiti called? ›

The easiest and simplest of graffiti styles, tagging is where it all started. It is essentially the artist's name or identifier in written form and uses at least one colour. It is considered disrespectful to write a tag over another's artist's tag or work.

What does PW meaning? ›

pw is used especially when stating the weekly cost of something. pw is the written abbreviation for 'per week'.

What is WSP in slang? ›

The most common WSP definition is “what's up,” and it's used in texting and social media. “What's up?” is an informal way to ask how someone is and what they're doing. Typically, the appropriate response is “nothing much” or “not much,” which can both be abbreviated to NM.

What is PSD in slang? ›

Summary of Key Points. "Photoshop Data file" is the most common definition for PSD on Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok.

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