Grade 7 Graffiti Tags

Trying to find an art lesson that Grade 7s connect with (and think is cool) isn't easy, but graffiti projects really tend to capture their interest. It's tough, though, because I have to make sure that they don't think that making this art in class is an invitation to go out in the community and do this on buildings. But then I question whether or not it is too "fake" to take the rebellious element out of this art form and to make graffiti on paper? Hmmm.

But..the students do love the project, and take lots of pride in their final work, and I am teaching the principles of art and design through the project....so I think it's going to be a keeper.

First I show a slide show of some graffiti images (both tags and stencils) to get students interested. I often use Bansky images because he is the rockstar of graffiti art. (NB: I pick and choose what images to show because some are a little too risque for the audience.) I also play some video footage from his Bristol Museum exhibit footage, because his animatronics are just so cool.  

Then I print out some graffiti fonts and students practice some lettering in their sketchbooks. I also have them think about different symbols and designs that would represent their identity and they sketch those out as well. I talk about creating balance and emphasis at this point and I show them how to add a border around their lettering to make it stand out. Once they have a composition, they use a 12 x 18 thick white sulphite paper and sketch out their design. They go over it in black or coloured Sharpie. Up to this point usually takes about 1.5 hours.

In the next class, I talk about colour, and how students can use value in their drawings to create the illusion of 3-D letters (darker shading on the outside of the letters, moving lighter to the inside). I insist that students add colour to all (well, almost all) of their drawings.   

Here are the impressive results.....


Art Club's Sharpie Tie-Dye

I've done this activity twice now with my intermediate art club students. It's pretty easy to do, satisfying and successful for all my grade ranges (Grade 3s-7s), and looks amazing. I got the original directions from http://blog.sharpie.com/2008/11/sharpie-to-tie-dye-for/