Graffiti & typography

c_acker's picture

Cholo hand styles... To Daniel's comments this style has its history in Southern California Mexican gang graffiti. Artist, Giant (above in this thread) is really good at this style. I'll look for some examples

Z Boys
This flick is from the movie DogTown/Z Boys. Anyone see that. Brilliant!

And an interpretation of that same handstyle by a New York writer with a typographic alias.
serif

hrant's picture

> i just thought it would be fun

My own apportionment of illegal activity leaves no room for graffiti at the moment, sorry. :-)

> lets not get too theoratical.

?

> give me an example of a rule in graffiti.

How should I know? But that doesn't mean I can believe there are none. For example, isn't "coding" broad a rule? Sure, it can be broken, but that's true in any field. Then there's the stylistic rules mentioned.

> were do you think graffiti and typography DO overlap?

A nice theoretical question. :-)
They overlap at the level of individual black forms. But typography is different because of its abstraction - like "default" spacing; while lettering is different because of its contextualization - like doing something special when you have an "LA" sequence (although increasingly typography is engulfing this). And what lettering and calligraphy share (which typography doesn't have) is that the forms are "heuristic", not predetermined*. Calligraphy and typography share very little. And there's something else: of the three, only typography can be truly immersive, the other two are essentially display-centric (although in some instances -like a well-penned manuscript- it's hard to see that).

* "Random" fonts are deceptive - because of what Johnny von Neumann said.

> do you think a typographer can become better in typography after seeing graffiti? and vice versa?

Yes.

hhp

c_acker's picture

But Hrant, all early tyeface designs were based upon calligraphy. I've heard some historians claim that all type had origins in calligraphic forms well up until Bodoni really abstracted the forms toward a new direction of what design has become with the early moderns. Garamond is obviously based upon calligraphic forms. Transitional faces became more intelectualized maybe but the forms still have root in the way one writes a Latin majuscle and all italics of this period are based in humnist miniscule. Surely you can't deny a link, even if we have ventured farther from it as time has gone on.

hrant's picture

Not only is calligraphy (better: "chirography") at the source of virtually all historic type designs, it's still the largest "school of thought" in contemporary type design! I'm certainly not denying its relevance (and usefulness in terms of formal analysis), but I do think that in the realm of theory the actual overlap is minimal. Gutenberg for example imitated scribes in order to "trick" readers into buying his stuff. To me that says nothing about the true nature of typography, of what it needs.

hhp

c_acker's picture

Ok, I'll take the bait, what does typography (type design) need?

hrant's picture

That's the big question, isn't it? :-)
I certainly don't know - but I do have one big conviction: that it's to serve the reader. But of course that's a multi-faceted thing itself. I think the important thing is not to get too wrapped up in your expressive abilities/desires, otherwise you're moving towards selfish art.

hhp

as8's picture

The essence of Typography is communication.
The essence of Aereosol Art is an extra coded form
of visual communication, it is on another semantical
level, and behaviors are different too, so it is also
pragmatically different.

> here's is a good question-
> were do you think graffiti and typography DO overlap?
Why do you like to take photos of your pieces?

> if a writer started designing fonts,
> would his graff career help him?
No, I don

c_acker's picture

>I think the important thing is not to get too wrapped up in your expressive abilities/desires, otherwise you're moving towards selfish art.

Oh Hrant, you disapoint me, we were so close and you seemed to have made an abrubt left turn. I thought you were starting to see the value in graffiti. Selfish is bad art for sure, but all art starts with a personal interprative starting point, even design, even typography. No matter your opinion on Carson, he champions an important idea- Legibility does not equal communication.

My wife is an actress, and one of the similiarities I find between our training and our professions is that we are both communicators. For sure, the audience must be able to understand our message, but to move your audience as an actor is more than just speaking loudly and clearly, I feel the same for my work as a designer. The appropriate choice of type within a given project is like an actor being able to convincingly speak in a given accent. It can add great depth to the audiences' perception of the content, or it can ruin it.


> you have to study what people have done
before and you can

hrant's picture

Well, I am sorry to disappoint you. But I wasn't leading you on or anything.

I just think that most people benefit more when a person uses his abilities to improve communication between others (like in typography) than when he merely shares his personal expressions (like painting his name on a wall). But if a graffiti artist lends his skills to expressing some important social commentary, then I personally think that's great.

Now, I do believe that Art is an integral part of life, and no human can or should try to supress his expression, but when that becomes the objective, the world gains very little. It's wasteful. On the other hand, people have different natures, and you can't force somebody to be very useful to many other people, at least not without making him miserable - and misery is contagious.

> Legibility does not equal communication.

Of course. But ignoring legibility is anti-design. Carson for example is an artist. I think the world needs more "servants" now, not more looking in the mirror.

hhp

c_acker's picture

>I just think that most people benefit more when a person uses his abilities to improve communication between others (like in typography) than when he merely shares his personal expressions (like painting his name on a wall)

I can respect that, and in most cases agree. However, I have been speaking to the value of graffiti as a practice of creating letterforms, not necessarily the act of defacing public spaces.

>I think the world needs more "servants" now, not more looking in the mirror.

I agree, and think this is great idea, but it will obviously manifest itself in different ways, as we are all artists to some degree. You can embrace that. You don't have to use that word with such disgust :-)

Nick Shinn's picture

>the funny thing, nick, is that ive met some writers who think alot like you. they belive that graffiti should be legible all the time.

Itay, if they think that graffiti should be legible at all times, they are most definitely NOT thinkin glike me.
I was merely pointing out that graffiti and typography are very very different.

Remember you started the thread with:
>i think graffiti is a peak in typography and caligraphy's history.

I'm just saying that graffiti has nothing to do with typography, and to claim that it is a wonderful part of typography is absurd. In fact, it's the opposite of typography!

As many people have pointed out in the thread (Alessandro most eloquently) they are differsnt -- graffiti is more like WORDMARKS and LOGOs.

Typographic design is about a system of glyphs that can be combined in different sequences.

Calligraphy has this in common with type: both used for long text.

You would be more accurate to claim that graffiti is a peak in PAINTING's history -- it's more Jackson Pollock than Matthew Carter.

However, I can imagine that in the future, digital type could enable more fluid, bio-mimetic forms of expression which would bring it closer to graffiti, and allow for that influence.

For instance, Frank Jonen's type with "bit depth", enabling the tonal variety of calligraphy, fused with some kind of LettError datastream-driven Knuth meta-font, could better capture the vitality of graffiti, which is presently killed by the media at the typographer's disposal.

kennmunk's picture

On what rules there are in graffiti, you guys have mentioned one of them yourselves: Style, when you do something in a certain style, you follow visual rules of the style.

I meant that typography (setting one chunk of word after another) doesn't have anything to do with graf. Type design, on the other hand has loads to do with graffiti.

Well, Itay K, I'm in on this challenge, how would you go about it? I suggest a new thread.

seg's picture

kenn, you can join a handstyle battle in the 12oz forum.. (?)
http://www.12ozprophet.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&postid=1687107#post1687107

Kyle Talbott's picture

Howdy Y'all,

Christian has been doing a great time holding it down for HANDSELECTA... I'm on vacation so I haven't been a part of the discussion.

COPE2 was the one arrested. Very interesting if ya know anything about him. He also just had a book-signing in Williamsburg, Brooklyn about 2 weks ago. I wonder if that has anything to to with why the Vandal Sqaud has made their move now, were they tipped off about Cope being in the yeards?... But that's another story, another thread on another website... like 12oz... Here's a link: http://www.sohh.com/thewire/read.php?contentID=5818 I haven't asked around for more info, bc, like I said I am on vacation...

To my knowledge, Os Gemeos (trans: the twins) are from San Paolo, Brasil. Check out http://www.lost.art.br/osgemeos.htm

When I get back, I promise to both Christian and all Typophile users to do my homework, read the posts and be involved.

Kyle Talbott
HANDSELECTA

jyoung's picture

> or maybe its rap? :]

On a related note (athough a really late response) the new Beastie Boys record has a typographic reference...

"So watcha' want, so watcha' need, I got the fonts, you wanna read."

Only the Beastie Boys would boast about something like that... I love graffiti. But I actually find that it loses a lot of character when its all spruced up for a publicly sanctioned project. There are a lot of those in DC. And while quite wonderful, I always imagine the artists just trying to get it over with... Sort of like when a band such as Green Day puts out a record that is supposed to be "punk", but it sounds too good to be anywhere near the vicinity of punk. Let alone the fact that their records are deemed "appropriate" or "acceptable". Well, I suppose one could say it's not really graffiti anymore when it's commissioned...

Anybody know the origin of the word "graffiti" ?

hrant's picture

According to John Ayto's "Dictionary of Word Origins", it doesn't come from the Greek gr

as8's picture

From Latin "graphium" ('graffio' in Italian), "scratch";
from Greek "graphion" (meaning the stilo to cut the wax tablets).
Related to hard nib and the scratch sound.
One of the best Italian hip-hop dj is DJ Gruff.

as8's picture

He hee! Funny that McGruff doggy mascot!

Have a look to this site, http://www.jardingalerie.org/
A web site dedicated to showcasing children's art
across cultures and highlighting art's essential
role in development, education and communication.
Take a look at the work below from the past three
years we've been on-line. Our website consists of
two parts: Exhibitions & The Galerie.

seg's picture

>it's the plural of the Italian "graffito", which means scratching!
on my vication to NYC last year i saw alot of scrachitti on the trains' windows. some local ex-writer called UN told me that now that they dont do trains in york, they started doing scrachitti on them.

Chris Rugen's picture

>it's the plural of the Italian "graffito", which means scratching!

Ha! Interesting etymological connection to one of the other four elements of hip-hop, DJing.

(the 4 being: MCing, DJing, graffiti, breakdancing)

timd's picture

As far as my faulty memory goes, graffiti was the
scratching of political slogans, election promises and
general advertisements on public buildings/tombs in
Rome. Guess that the hook reference comes from the
tool used for the job. Still it would be frowned on by the
patricians (the rich class in Roman society) mainly
because the tombs were their family members (plebs
being thrown into the Cloaca Maxima, Tiber or dungheap).
Tim

as8's picture

You have a good memory Mr. Tim Daly!
How old are you? :-)
http://www.estovest.net/tradizione/yinyang_en.html

+

These (graffiti rupestri) are also called "graffiti",
but as you know they are from thousands years before:
http://www.cun-italia.net/dipinti-graffiti/dipinti-graffiti.htm
http://www.bresciainvetrina.it/bresciaturismo/valcamonica_arterupestre.htm

Like this path "la strada megalitica," for instance,
by the the sea near Genova (it was relaxing warm and fresh).
Anna found a very nice stone.
That path is special, it was a magic path, it leads to a bunch
of stones used to do something, he hee, what an explanation! :-)
Well, those stones face a small mountain, the path is about 2400
years old and it is related to 21 June (funny posting!), this day,
when the sun sets, the rays are straight on the path.
I got to know that Indians had this form of art where they made
a path on the ground and from the sky above you can see that those
lines/paths are in a form of an animal figure.
Scientists say that when the indians walked along those paths
they could "see" or comprehend or feel the animal it was...
horse, whale etc.
So walking along a path is also a spiritual experience a way
we can make ourselves to relate to the nature, universe and ourselves...
I wish la strada megalitica my spiritual path...
La Strada Megalitica

dezcom's picture

...as you know they are from thousands years before:
http://www.cun-italia.net/dipinti-graffiti/dipinti-graffiti.htm

Alessandro,
This one looks like things from Von Danighan's(SP?) book "Chariots of the Gods"

ChrisL

timd's picture

Alessandro, not quite old enough to know any of the culprits.
I missed the solstice celebrations at Stonehenge

http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism/festivals/summer_solstice.shtml

Somewhere I have some pictures (as usual I cannot
find them when I want them) of scratched figures on a rock
in the Saudi desert of hunting scenes and human figures.

Tim

crossgrove's picture

Hey, it looks like there are as many people
photographing graffiti as there are photographing
lettering/signage. Could Typophile host an online
graffiti gallery too? I have more and more photos
every year; there are some very talented underground
letterers here in the Bay Area.

Personally I find there's a huge range of quality in graffiti: some art, some dog-pee. Not all of it is criminal or destructive.

Maybe some of us who
relish theorizing about graffiti could get together at
TypeCon and try it out on some warehouse walls.....
Put a spraycan where your mouth is! ;)

crossgrove's picture

Hey, it looks like there are as many people
photographing graffiti as there are photographing
lettering/signage. Could Typophile host an online
graffiti gallery too? I have more and more photos
every year; there are some very talented underground
letterers here in the Bay Area.

Personally I find there's a huge range of quality in graffiti: some art, some dog-pee. Not all of it is criminal or destructive.

Maybe some of us who
relish theorizing about graffiti could get together at
TypeCon and try it out on some warehouse walls.....
Put a spraycan where your mouth is! ;)

Joe Pemberton's picture

Moderator's
Note:

If you add a
return into
your post it
will wrap
nicely and not
require people
to scroll end-
lessly.

Of course,
the alternative
is to crop your
images to a
nice 600px
wide. But
that's too
late now.

Joe Pemberton's picture

To counter Gerald, I have to say that there are definitely
occasions (in some parts of SF's Mission District to name one)
where graffiti is the only urban renewal an area can hope to get.
There is even sanctioned (commissioned may be the wrong
word) graffiti in these areas with the hope that people won't
tag over it.

The real difference is between graffiti and tagging. Tagging
is usually scrawled quickly and is very often ugly. For example,
the stuff posted by Christian Acker on Saturday, June 12, 2004 -
11:35 am is tagging and is interesting to study, but only makes
the urban landscape ugly.

The stuff posted by Itay K on Saturday, June 05, 2004 - 11:28 am
is the stuff I'm talking about.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Carl, regarding the Bay Area, I dig the PERCEPT stuff. It's everywhere and it's always different.

A quick googling yields: http://www.pushby.com/tomas/img/photos/percept-mission.jpg

And: http://www.monkeyview.net/id/357/graffiti/percept.vhtml

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