If you missed the first post about the general evolution of graffiti, check it out here. The Evolution of Street Art: Graffiti.
Developed in the early days of graffiti, tags were a simple and quick ways to leave your mark. A tag is a stylized signature of the artist, done with a spray can, marker or pen, and consisting of one color usually contrasting with the background. The point of a tag is to be seen and graffiti writers used to tag the shit out of everything to gain notoriety. It is considering extremely disrespectful to tag over another writer’s tag or piece.
In the early 70’s in Brooklyn, graffiti writers would board the subway and try to hit as many subway cars as possible. Eventually they learned that in the evenings all the subways cars would be parked at a train yard or lay up, giving them more time to work and less chance of getting caught, this spurred innovation in the graffiti seen. Subways were important lines of communication between graffiti writers of different New York City boroughs, as it allowed writers in one borough to seen the developments of another borough without having to actually go there.
Given it’s simple style and quick nature, tags served as the foundation on which more intricate styles would eventually evolve.
Throw-ups and Bombing
Due to the constant competition between graffiti writers to “out do” their rival and gain more fame, writers began to incorporate script and calligraphic styles into their tags. Aside from evolving tag style, writers started using caps from other aerosol products to provide s larger width spray, adding more visual weight and increasing the scale of tags. The throw-up was born.
Very similar to a tag in its quick execution, throw-ups or throwies are more intricate and involve two or three colors. Throw-ups can be done quickly and repeatedly, usually done in bubble letters in one color and with an outline in a different color. The point with a throw-up, like a tag, is to be seen by as many people as possible but providing a more stylized representation of the artist’s name.
The term bombing is when a graffiti writer goes and puts up tags or throw-ups all over their area.