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.....


  1. These are fanastic! I, too, have struggled with taking such an edgy concept and turning into such a mainstream art class project! lol! But the kids really enjoy projects like these- I dod a Banksy-inspired stencil project that the kids love. I really like the creative solutions your kids came up with. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks for your comment! I checked out your stencil lesson over at your blog and I really wish my students were old enough to do something like that. My highest group is Grade 7, and I don't think most of them would have the skill or patience for it yet. Very cool to see what is possible with high school students, though! :)

  2. Agreed- I don't think I'd trust my Grade 7 class with x-acto knives! lol

  3. Hi Danielle-LOVE these tags! I did a similar project with my 2nd-7th graders and we used a photo of a brick wall for the background (it sort of gives the illusion that the tag is real). Love how your 7th graders created such great backgrounds for their tags. Thank you so much for posting! Mrs. P (check out my graffiti lesson at: http://createartwithme.blogspot.com/2013/05/graffiti-namesooh-edgy.html)

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