The art of graffiti writing is alive and well. It is a practice that spans throughout societies, cultures, communities, and peoples of all kinds and generations. The motivations people have for tagging vary. For some, it can be an effective way to communicate a message of a political or social nature. For others, it is simply a means of expression — a way to announce their presence to the world. Whatever the case may be, graffiti writing remains a common phenomenon all over the world. Rebellious youths continue to illegally tag walls and public spaces in their communities while professional graffiti artists create grand works of art for the enjoyment and consideration of the public.
There are all kinds of graffiti supplies out there on the market that taggers at all levels use to create their art. In addition, there are many taggers out there taking a DIY approach and creating their own tools of the trade as graffiti culture evolves. The main graffiti supplies taggers are using these days will be outlined below along with pricing and usage tips.
Spray Paint: What to consider before shopping for spray paint
The heart and soul of every tagger’s collection of supplies is their spray paint; it only takes one cheap can of paint to go out and start tagging. Of course, there are tons of options out there and it is best to think about a few key factors before deciding on what kind of paint to buy. First, what is the level of the tagger? For people just starting out, it is probably best to stick with inexpensive spray paint for the beginning, learning stages of graffiti. Second, for what kind of project is the spray paint being used? Tagging on brick walls and cement streets is one thing, but if the goal is to paint a specific personal object such as canvas or an automobile, higher quality paint will work best. Primer and sand paper are other investments to consider in that case, as using them along the way will make for a better finished product.
There are also different can tips or caps to be used on cans available to achieve different effects such as an extra wide or skinny spray. Caps are typically cheap; three for a dollar or a 25-pack for around $7.00.
Compare and Contrast: The different spray paint options on the market
Quality and price of spray paint for graffiti varies. Fortunately, it is pretty easy for anyone to get started, as there is inexpensive spray paint out there that will get the job done. From beginners to professionals, spray paint of varying price and quality can be found in most cities.
On the low end, a can of spray paint can go for as little as $0.99. Stores such as Walmart and KMart carry these cheapest options, which can range from $0.99 to $1.50, depending on geographic location. Such low budget options are a great way to get started without paying much money.
As for mid-range options, the tried and true brand of spray paint called Krylon is perfectly acceptable and is actually used regularly by many taggers. It is still quite inexpensive, ranging from $2.45 to $3.15 per can, and can be found in the hardware sections of big department stores such as Walmart and Target. Krylon is sold in many different colors and styles (translucent, flat, glossy, metallic). The paint goes on thick with great coverage, and is a solid option for taggers.
On the high end, high quality spray paint such as Valspar or Rustoleum can be found in caged areas at hardware stores such as Lowe’s or Home Depot, respectively. However, it is recommended to only invest in these for personal home projects.
Serious graffiti artists can shop online for the best tagging spray paint on the market. Brands such as Molotow and Belton carry spray paint in all different colors and shades with various tipped-cans to produce certain effects when painting. Their cans can cost up to $9.00 each, but will certainly perform well.
With so many spray paint options of varying prices on the market, it is best for taggers to try out as many as they can to determine their weapon of choice. In the end, it comes down to personal preference; the most expensive option is not always the best one.
Stencils: Taking graffiti art to the next level
While spray paint covers a lot of ground (or wall) and is a lot of fun to use, it can only take graffiti artists so far. When taggers want to take their graffiti art to the next level, they may turn to stencils to give them control and detail that is simply not possible with a lone can of spray paint. Stencils can technically be made out of any kind of paper material, so taggers’ techniques for creating them differ.
Regardless of the material used in creating stencils, a quality Xacto knife is needed to cleanly cut out designs and shapes. Xacto knives can be found at any hardware store or even CVS or Rite Aid for around $3.00.
On the low and inexpensive (read: free) end, cardboard can be used for stencil creation. Cardboard stencils are useful for testing out designs that are relatively simply to draw and cut out.
However, serious graffiti artists may use wax paper designed specifically for stencil creation. Graffiti wax paper, which is transluscent, holds up well after multiple uses and can be cut through easily enough. It is also thin enough for printing; this is key for taggers who wish to create their stencil designs using a computer program such as Photoshop and then print them out. Wax graffiti paper might be found at a paper store, but can definitely be found online at websites of graffiti supply stores. They are usually sold in bulk, for example: three sheets of 9″ by 12″ paper for $7.50 or six sheets for $11.50.
Markers: Filling in the blanks with ink and paint based graffiti markers
Markers go along with stencils as additional tools most graffiti artists have in their supply kit besides spray paint. There is a huge selection of graffiti markers on the market. Some are ink-based while others are paint-based. Like spray paint, it is better to try out different kinds and go with what is most comfortable and successful for the project at hand.
Like stencils, it is possible to take a DIY approach and actually create homemade markers. Some graffiti artists like to create their own materials; it allows them creative freedom to experiment with colors and marker types while keeping costs down. In-depth instructions and recipes can be found online.
Graffiti markers on the market vary in price, and can range from $5.00 to $9.00. Some are ink based, which means they can be refilled with ink and reused. Others are paint based. Markers of all kinds can be found at graffiti product websites such as http://www.bombingscience.com, which carries every competitive brand such as Molotow, Grog, Do’Em Dirty, and others.
Spray paint, stencils, and markers — oh my!
While fancy stencils and markers will help new taggers create more dynamic visuals, it will not give them inspiration or ability It is important to remember that graffiti is an art. All the expensive materials and know-how in the world are no good without time, dedication, hard work, and at least a little bit of talent. The best graffiti artists have always been able to do a lot with a little. They are the ones who take the tools they have and use them in unique and challenging ways the world has not yet seen. They all had to start somewhere, though — and it all starts with a can of paint.