Part three of a series on Detroit’s graffiti: names
In part one of this series on graffiti art in Detroit, I pointed out that the city has an incredible variety of stunning street art pieces on every imaginable surface from buildings to bridges. I also described many of the places where these fantastic wall writings can be found. In the second part of this series, I focused on the array of interesting design elements that make up many of the graffiti caricatures and distinct images I’ve come across while bicycling in Detroit. Some of these images include sinister, mysterious looking faces that reminded me of cartoon characters or an animated character found in an online video game. Some were simple one-color tags, while others were large, colorful caricatures, and a few were created using stencils.
In this entry, the third in a series, I’ll be taking a look at many of the artfully designed graffiti tag names found in Detroit…names like Kosher, Paid, Yogert and many others.
Unlike many of the elaborate caricatures I’ve come across, graffiti artist’s names (or logos) are more widespread and in plain view. They can be found on the sides of buildings along commercial strips, in downtown Detroit near the top of multi-story buildings and other highly visible locations throughout the city. Much different from simple one-color tags, the designs incorporate a variety of wide-letter styles that take many forms. These forms may include straight block and leaning letters and letters with softer, flowing curved lines known as bubbles. These wide-lettered bubble pieces are well-defined and usually easy to read. They also provide an interior palette within the letters for the writer to enhance their name through the use of a solid or contrasting fill color. In some instances this fill color gradates from a lighter tone to a much darker one.
In many of the stylized names or logos I’ve spotted, the graffiti writer(s) has filled the interior of the various letters with design elements such as starbursts, dollar signs and hash (###) marks. Other graphic treatments I’ve seen within the bubbles include circles, stripes, arrows and many other subtle touches, like soft contrasting colored polka dots. Hollows or outlines without any interior letter fill are also out there.
One thing I noticed about these writings and many others I’ve come across while bicycling in Detroit, are the small signatures that have been spray-painted above or below the finished pieces. As it was explained to me, those are crewmember signatures. A crew is a group of friends that are interested in graffiti and want to work together on wall writings such as a large multi-colored name or large complicated piece of work.
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