As the French semiologist Roland Barthes wrote, “the wall, as it is known, attracts writing.” This is to say that, since the concept of the wall has existed, graffiti has also existed.
Paint markers with their bright colors have certainly not always existed, but the writings and drawings on the walls have never been lacking: just think of the Upper Paleolithic graffiti found in Qurta, Egypt, or in Val Camonica, or the famous Caves of Lascaux.
On the walls, therefore, people have always written, and not even a little. However, it is certainly not possible to locate the birth of Street Art in the caves near Montignac, nor in Renaissance Florence.
Know the modern street art
The starting point of this long journey could therefore be identified in the first half of the nineteenth century, not in the United States, where the phenomenon of writers has spread, but in the heart of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and therefore of Europe.
It is certainly no longer that movement of urban ghetto boys born between Philadelphia and New York. Seen from the outside, by those who do not practice it and do not know it, today Street Art could even be summed up in the name of Banksy alone. But around him there are thousands and thousands of artists who, with their sprays and their markers for Street Art, continue to give voice to the primeval nature of the movement.
Think of the Berlin Kidz, a bit artists and a bit street agitators, or the reckless – probably too much – Pixadores of Sao Paulo, who challenge the heights of the buildings to make their grafitti (which remain illegible to the public anyway).
Here, this is Street Art
Starting to practice it without knowing where this form of art comes from makes no sense. Could the world have done without Kylesak and Tracy 168 tags? Of course, but those were the necessary and indispensable roots to have Haring, Basquiat, Banksy, Fairey, the twins Os Gemeos, JR, C215, Faith47 and many others like Alec Monopoly’s paintings who, with their stencils, their cans and their markers, have given new life to cities and their citizens.
Well, now you are ready to buy your Street Art cans and markers and follow in the footsteps of all these great artists.
Get out of the house and buy a sketchbook
This will become your Bible, always use it before trying anything. Secondly, find a nice name, nothing stupid like Ghost, Anger etc. and try to make it unique. Alternatively, buy some papers and always carry them with you.
Pick a name and stick to that
Remember to look around to see if anyone uses the same name as you (words like face, ghost, king, demon, flame, extra, etc. are all common names). If you really want to be original, find a longer word that is both intelligent and possibly related to you or your work.
Look for inspiration in your city and on the internet, but don’t directly copy anything you see; or you will be stigmatized as a kid (meaning a new artist who doesn’t deserve respect) for a long time.
This practice is also called “biting”, and is a slang term for someone copying someone else’s work. Biting is fine for your first graffiti until you take credit for it.
Perfect your style. Many want to go directly to the wildstyle and the murals. It does not work like this. Start with the round letters and then move on.
After weeks or months of practicing and sketching, buy permanent markers or make your own, and start tagging.
Meet other artists of your level or higher. In this subculture you can learn from the most experienced and help your peers.