Tools of the Trade: What’s In a Graff Writer’s Backpack

Good Gear

You don’t want to be caught in sagging pants and untied shoes when you see red and blue, and trust me, it will happen to you eventually. It is critical that your gear be practical, and you must be able to run quickly in it. Climbing and scrambling will often be necessary in order to get to hard-to-reach places, so be prepared for that as well. In order to reach the best spots for graffiti, you have to be limber and daring, and clambering up to the spot will take some care and risk; you have to be able to rely on your shoes. These types of maneuvers are also very useful in the art of the getaway — cops won’t chase you over a fence. And when you jump a fence, you don’t want to get snagged on it, and you don’t want your foot to slip when you’re on the top of a fifty-foot wall. The moral here is that practical gear can save your night, or even your life. Beyond danger and practicality, it is also helpful to have large pockets for tips and markers, and you won’t want to wear gear that shouldn’t get paint on it as that is inevitable.

Lastly, appropriately-warm clothing is important as well. Winter is a great time to get out there; there are less people out and about, and ice will let you get places you can’t get in the summer. However, the cold weather can be a nuisance, and you won’t want a piece to get cut short because you’re unprepared and freezing your ass off.


Tools of the graff writing trade: IdeasYou don’t go out with a backpack full of paint and nothing to draw. There isn’t enough virgin concrete out there for you to cut your teeth on. Before you get out on the streets, practice. This means coming up with a totally original tag name (don’t use one you’ve seen before no matter how tempting it is). After you have a tag name, make a tight design for the throw-up.

Make a stencil if you want, it’s a good place to start. Get a good area to practice — maybe a sheet of plywood in your back yard — and make sure you’ve got it down before you hit the streets. There is enough amateur graffiti out there, the last thing graffiti needs is more poor-quality chicken scratches; that’s the best way to perpetuate the bad reputation street art has. When graffiti is good, it’s a public service, a beautiful work of art, but when it’s just mindless vandalism, it makes all graff writers look bad.

Last of all, keep it fresh. Keep coming up with new designs, keep experimenting, and keep improving. And remember, graff writers are critical. Rappers, producers, and break dancers ain’t nothing without graffiti, they all work together to make what we know and love: hip-hop.

So, think you’re ready to take to the streets to make your mark? We want to see what you can do! Head to our Facebook page and tag it up with your street art!

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