How to become a graffiti artist

Nowadays graffiti is quite popular form of art. It is also considered to be very modern and cool; so many people are willing to become graffiti artists. Just like in any other type of art, also in graffiti there is talent needed. That is something one either have or don’t. However, it also takes some skills and it is something that can be learned. Follow these steps to become a graffiti artist.

You won’t be able to make real graffiti’s without trainings. Every good graffiti artist is a good drawer, so stat with making your black book. That means making sketches. If you are not so great at drawing, start with simple lines, letters and forms and gradually draw complicated figures. Use all kind of markers and pencils. Create your technique and style on paper, before going into the streets.

When you run out of ideas, look for some inspiration. Look at the pictures in the internet and real artworks in the streets. Also it would be great if you communicate with some graffiti artists with experience. Educate yourself to improve your drawing skills and supplement your black book. At the beginning it is also fine to copy some artworks, if the cause is only training.

When you have become a good graffiti drawer, you must learn everything about spray paints and flat markers. The supply of them is huge. There are simple spray paints you can buy at any building materials shop, but there are also spry paints and markers that are specially designed for graffiti art. There are also different can tips with which you can control the thickness of lines and also give some effects or texture to your artwork. You must learn what kinds of paints are appropriate for each surface and what tips you must use in each case.

When you have mastered the theoretical part, you must learn how to actually use these instruments. Find some background and do some simple tags or throw ups. Better don’t train in public places, because your first works probably won’t be so great. Don’t worry if you are not so good at controlling the spray can. It takes some time to get used to these instruments.

When you have learned the basics, you can try to find some ways how to consummate your skills. The best graffiti artists sometimes offer some courses and experience exchanges to the new artists. If you can find any of those, than use the chance. Also it is possible to learn something from YouTube videos and other theoretical materials.

One you have become a good graffiti artist, you must find some places where to paint and show your kills to other artists and people. Remember that drawing graffiti in public places without permeation is illegal, so you must look for legal options. There are some graffiti competitions and also projects, where graffiti artists can paint without any accusations.

Page Navigation

Use the drop-down menu to jump to a section below.

There’s something about the whiff of aerosol paint lacquer that is both weird and wonderful but only to artists who claim the of a tunnel as their canvas. If you don’t mind venturing into uncharted territory with a spray can as your paint brush, a career as a graffiti artist is for you.

1. Learn the Basics of Graffiti Art

There are two different types of people in the world – someone who walks by graffiti art on an old billboard, on the side of a dilapidated building, or other public environment and thinks, “I sure hope they catch whoever did that, this type of thing is so disrespectful.” Then there is someone else who walks by the same piece of art and thinks, “I wonder how the artist got up on the side of that highway overpass? That is so cool.” If you happen to fall into the latter category, and you can’t help but walk through a city street and see a canvas everywhere you look, then you just might be an ideal candidate for becoming a graffiti artist.

Defined as “drawings, paintings, or other markings on surfaces in public places,” graffiti art is a form of art that dates back centuries. Although many people think “graffiti art” only rose to prominence in the 1980s, it’s actually a concept that has its origins in the ancient Greek and Roman societies. One could argue that it goes back even further to the days when cavemen were telling stories via paintings on walls. Though today’s methods may be new (including spray paint and permanent markers), it’s actually a medium founded on some of the oldest principles of art that have ever existed.

Though many people often associate graffiti artistry with breaking the law, this isn’t nearly as true as one might believe. While it’s true that graffiti can often be seen on public buildings, on private property, and even on the outside walls of train cars, this isn’t always the case. For every gang that uses a spray paint “tag” to claim their territory in a major metropolitan city, there are ten people who truly love expressing themselves via graffiti as an art form who are not breaking the law in any way.

The fact of the matter is that the legal distinction between “illegal graffiti” and “graffiti art” (or “street art” as it is sometimes called) can all be summed up in one simple little word –permission. If a graffiti artist spends hours creating a beautiful work of art on the side of a building they don’t own and doesn’t bother to write up an agreement with the appropriate people ahead of time, that will likely be considered vandalism or criminal mischief in a court of law. If that same artist gets in contact with the building owner, tells them what they want to do and writes up an agreement, suddenly they’re expressing themselves in one of the purest forms of art that exists today.

2. Learn Essential Techniques & Build Your Skills

A Formal Education May Provide Surprising Benefits

As with other types of artistic professions, higher education is not a necessary requirement for becoming a graffiti artist – although it is absolutely recommended for a number of important reasons. Most graffiti artists do seek out some form of postsecondary education in an effort to build their skills and develop a personal brand. Attending an art school can also help graffiti artists become more comfortable with the use of spray paint and similar tools, all of which will be their main form of artistic expression moving forward.

If an artist chooses to enroll in a certificate or diploma program, he or she can expect to take classes in concepts of visual arts, fundamentals of drawing, introduction to computer graphics and basics of visual studies. An associate degree in art includes coursework in art history, introduction to ceramics, fundamentals of painting, and foundations of 3D art. Bachelor’s degree programs build on what is learned previously through classes or experience and may include classes in contemporary issues in art, typographic methods, advanced color and space, and methods for moving images.

In addition to taking art classes covering a wide range of different techniques, all of which can play a role in the development of a graffiti artist’s personal style, many educational institutions also cover the history of the medium itself. Though modern day graffiti art first became popular in the 1980s, it actually originated in the late 1960s in New York City and even called “New York Style” graffiti. In fact, the concept of “tagging” also originated here.

Personal branding is important in graffiti art in particular, as the concept of “tagging” as a type of signature is quite popular. This is true in terms of perhaps the most famous graffiti artist working today – Banksy – an anonymous graffiti artist of unverified identity. Banksy has a unique visual style all his own and is someone who should be actively studied in an effort to learn and grow in the field.

In lieu of a formal education, there are dozens of workshops, online classes, youth organizations, and graffiti artists’ blogs and websites where an aspiring graffiti artist can pick up tips and learn new techniques. However, the opportunity to internships available while in college cannot be overlooked. Internships provide valuable experience, and give students a way to make contacts and create mentoring relationships.

3. Build Your Brand

A Strong Portfolio Is Essential for Every Artist

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, graffiti artists fall under an umbrella category of “craft and fine artists” – also referred to as people who use a variety of different artistic materials and other techniques to create art, both for sale and for general exhibition. The key thing that they have in common is that they’re creating art for an aesthetic value instead of a functional one – although in terms of graffiti art, in particular, is an idea that is very much up for debate.

There were 50,300 craft artists employed in the country throughout 2014 (though not all of them were graffiti artists and over half of them were self-employed). The job outlook in this area is expected to rise at a rate of two percent between 2014 and 2024, which is actually slower than the national average.

Professional graffiti artists can obtain gainful employment in a wide range of different areas depending on their interests. Many city officials, for example, employ professional graffiti artists in an effort to cover up or remove illicit art in public places. City officials actively seek out talented, popular artists to paint over lewd or otherwise illegal drawings with something that is much more acceptable for their towns, cities, and public places.

Despite popular belief, it is entirely possible that a professional graffiti artist won’t spend the majority of his or her time on the streets at all. Instead, they will find themselves in a traditional studio environment, much like other artistic professions like painters or sculptors. Most graffiti artists create art on legal canvases for sale or for exhibition and many profit from collectors and other hobbyists who take an active interest in the profession.

With a unique visual flair and a strong personal brand, it is also possible for a professional graffiti artist to be employed by an advertising agency to create engaging campaigns that strike a chord with younger audiences. Coca-Cola, MTV, and even software giant Microsoft are all examples of major companies with advertising campaigns that have heavily featured graffiti art in the past.

Beyond artistic talent, a graffiti artist, like all artists, must have a number of abilities and qualities to succeed in such a creative field, which include passion for art and for the graffiti art world specifically, the courage to take risks and grow in the field, an entrepreneurial attitude, focus, willingness to push themselves to learn new techniques and also learn from their mistakes, enthusiasm, flexibility, self-discipline, and natural talent.

Graffiti is a genre of art that never gets old. We first saw it in the streets, and now it has made its way into galleries and even our homes, thanks to the medium’s opportunity for raw creativity. Graffiti often displays a message of some sort, or it might contain lots of imagery with hidden meanings, but even at its most basic it’s one of the only mediums that can brighten up a dull street or a derelict building.

If you’re longing for a touch of graffiti in your front or back garden, I’ve got a clever way to satisfy your colour-lust: plant up a graffiti garden! Natural graffiti protects both manmade structures and actually has a positive impact on the environment. It’s a simpler way to add colour and interest to a space, without getting into trouble with a can of spray paint! In fact, it’s so easy to become a natural graffiti artist – all you need are the plants, and we have some super cool ones for you!

What is a graffiti garden?

How to become a graffiti artist

A graffiti garden is an area that contains plants which are known for long-lasting colour, and in many different colours! Just like good graffiti, you won’t have to do a lot of maintenance once the initial time has been put into creating it – just a little spruce-up here and there. Graffiti gardens should be low-stress, but high on the enjoyment scale.

When it comes to picking plants for your graffiti garden, there are plenty of bright new specimens to choose from. And it’s more than just green leaves… we have purple, pink, golden, orange, even marbled multi-coloured!!

Benefits of colour in the garden

How to become a graffiti artist

There’s no doubt that colour has an impact on the way we feel in a certain environment. In fact, there’s a whole area of alternative medicine linking colour to wellbeing – it’s called ‘chromotherapy’. This centuries-old therapy was used by the ancient Greeks, and works on the basis that each colour has a unique wavelength and therefore emits a certain energy which can improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

Although it’s not quite an exact science, it can’t just be coincidence that we feel a certain way when exposed to colour! I’m sure that many of you have bought Daffodils because their cheery yellow colouring perked up your mood, or maybe even relaxed in a Bluebell forest because the cool blue tones were calming!

If you want to become a natural graffiti artist, you should give some thought about the colours you pick for your garden and what impact they might have on your mood in future. Here’s some insight into the psychological effects of each colour:

  • Blue: Tranquility, healing, protection, spirituality
  • Green: Freshness, fertility, healing, wealth
  • Yellow: Energy, happiness, warmth, intellect
  • Purple: Regalness, spirituality, ambition, luxury, wealth
  • Pink: Health, happiness, compassion, playfulness
  • Red: Power, love, passion, strength, desire, energy
  • Orange: Confidence, friendliness, success

How to become a graffiti artist

5 plants recommended for your graffiti garden

Now that you’ve got an idea of the kind of plants that a graffiti garden should contain, and which colours you think would be most beneficial for the look and feel of your garden, here’s a run-down of five fantastic plants to consider for your new venture as a natural graffiti artist!

1. Loropetalum chinense ‘Ever Red’

How to become a graffiti artist

How to become a graffiti artist

The intense red flowers combine with the dark burgundy foliage on Loropetalum chinense Ever Red to form a really striking shrub with a long blooming period. Utterly striking, in and out of flower, Loropetalum are incredibly under-rated for garden or patio.

2. Senecio ‘Angel Wings’

How to become a graffiti artist

How about a silver sheen for your borders, and what’s even better, the leaves have a downy feel to the touch! This Senecio was found down a ravine, and it rapidly becoming the must-have plant for stylish gardeners! Read the full story here .

3. Cotinus coggygria ‘Golden Lady’

How to become a graffiti artist

How to become a graffiti artist

Wow. Just wow! Brighten up your graffiti garden world with luminous Cotinus coggygria Golden Lady – plants offer an electrifying combo of yellow, green and orange! A durable shrub for urban gardens.

4. Thuja ‘Sunny Smaragd’

How to become a graffiti artist

One of the more lively conifers, Thuja Sunny Smaragd oozes energy and happiness in a compact, pyramid-shaped habit. Far less invasive than its bigger cousins, ‘Sunny Smaragd’ would make the perfect accent for a graffiti garden!

5. Acer shirasawanum ‘Moonrise’

How to become a graffiti artist

How to become a graffiti artist

Add a blaze of colour to your garden with the chartreuse leaves of Acer shirasawanum ‘Moonrise’. It’s ideal as a standalone centrepiece or as part of a colourful border. The leaves parade through a rainbow of colours from spring through to autumn!

Which plants would you put in your graffiti garden? Let me know in the comments section below!

How to become a graffiti artist

Michael has been involved with gardening and plants since he was just five years old. He is a self-professed Plant Geek, and was listed in the Sunday Times top 20 most influential people in the gardening world, thanks to his plant hunter role at Thompson & Morgan.

Michael was responsible for new plant introductions such as the Egg and Chips plant and the FuchsiaBerry and keeps busy travelling the world in search of new plants as well as lecturing worldwide, including stints in Japan. He is very active on social media – so why not give him a follow at @mr_plantgeek or Facebook. You can also listen to The Plant Based Podcast with Michael and co-host Ellen-Mary on iTunes, Spotify and Google.

Although graffiti is very interesting and unique type of art, there are some reasons why it is not meant for anyone. It is risky, dangerous and inefficient from many perspectives and even if you are true graffiti enthusiast, you should consider if it’s worth it to start painting and become a graffiti artist.

First of all graffiti is very unprofitable type of art. You won’t make much money with it and there won’t be any time for other jobs. One graffiti piece can take more than a week to be finished. Most of the graffiti artists don’t have real jobs and they only make money from some irregular contract jobs. You cannot be a real full time graffiti artist if you have a job or other obligations. So choose, what are your life goals and is it worth to dedicate your life to art, even if it’s very unprofitable.

Of course, graffiti is also illegal and this kind of activities can end up with an arrest. Although there are ways how to do it legally, you must prove yourself and get some popularity among other artists and graffiti enthusiasts. No one will be interested in your work if they won’t even know who you are and how your art looks like. So you must start with illegal painting and that is very risky. If you will get caught more times, you can even go to jail. There really are some graffiti artists that have been arrested and put into jail because of their actions.

To prove your ability it is also necessary to risk with your life and paint in some dangerous places. There is even special term – Heaven Spot. That means graffiti made in place which is really hard to reach or with is dangerous to access. If you want to become great, not only average artist, you must risk and that is not worth it.

Even if you could find some ways how to paint fully safe and legally and earn great money with that, unfortunately graffiti art is very bad for artists’ health. The spray paint is poison and artists inhale huge amounts of this paint. It can cause serious damages of brain, kidneys and nerve system. Even if you use respirator and other protectors, some of the paint will get into your lungs. It is even more dangerous than smoking.

So when you know the risks and disadvantages of this art, you can objectively evaluate if it’s worth it or not. Don’t do something just because it is cool. If you are sure you will become a great artist without major risks, you can go for it, but otherwise choose some better ways how to express your creativity and talent.

How to become a graffiti artist

You have probably heard of one of the most famous street doodlers of the last few years (and possibly ever). He went from being a Bristol artist to an international phenomenon, for his political and social comments via the medium of graffiti art. While Banksy’s images would have at one time been a seen as community vandalism or as a sign of a poverty stricken area, his style and vision has in fact made his work a source of pride for any place where he has put ink to concrete. His pieces are either instantly registered as national treasures or sold for a lot of money. This may have given you the idea that you might like to be a graffiti artist too. Here are a few tips on how:

Learn how to paint

First thing you need to do is to learn how to paint. Anyone can be a vandal: taking a marker pen or some spray paint and drawing rude messages or football slogans on bus stops, but if you want to be a real graffiti artist you need to know how to draw, paint, sculpt at a reasonable level and be able to deliver some sort of valid message through your work.

Get your own angle

With this in mind it is good to develop your own distinctive style of graffiti. It might be a particular colour scheme, it might be what you target for delivering your messages or a recurring theme in your work. Banksy for instance uses stencilling for speed and likes to deliver messages criticising government and institutions while referencing pop culture.

Understand that it is illegal

Having said all this, it is important that you remember that no matter how beautiful and bold your statement is, in the eyes of the law it will be classes as vandalism. While it may be important to you that your work appears daubed across the front of Buckingham Palace you may have to settle for a wall in a studio or somewhere that will give you permission. They may even provide you with art supplies like canvases and craft kits and things to help you plan though and this would be especially helpful if you were just starting out.

One thing that has helped Banksy, and not just from a legal perspective, is keeping his identity a secret. You may want to do this too if you have any concerns about getting into trouble, but if you’re going to do this legally then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

Although graffiti is very interesting and unique type of art, there are some reasons why it is not meant for anyone. It is risky, dangerous and inefficient from many perspectives and even if you are true graffiti enthusiast, you should consider if it’s worth it to start painting and become a graffiti artist.

First of all graffiti is very unprofitable type of art. You won’t make much money with it and there won’t be any time for other jobs. One graffiti piece can take more than a week to be finished. Most of the graffiti artists don’t have real jobs and they only make money from some irregular contract jobs. You cannot be a real full time graffiti artist if you have a job or other obligations. So choose, what are your life goals and is it worth to dedicate your life to art, even if it’s very unprofitable.

Of course, graffiti is also illegal and this kind of activities can end up with an arrest. Although there are ways how to do it legally, you must prove yourself and get some popularity among other artists and graffiti enthusiasts. No one will be interested in your work if they won’t even know who you are and how your art looks like. So you must start with illegal painting and that is very risky. If you will get caught more times, you can even go to jail. There really are some graffiti artists that have been arrested and put into jail because of their actions.

To prove your ability it is also necessary to risk with your life and paint in some dangerous places. There is even special term – Heaven Spot. That means graffiti made in place which is really hard to reach or with is dangerous to access. If you want to become great, not only average artist, you must risk and that is not worth it.

Even if you could find some ways how to paint fully safe and legally and earn great money with that, unfortunately graffiti art is very bad for artists’ health. The spray paint is poison and artists inhale huge amounts of this paint. It can cause serious damages of brain, kidneys and nerve system. Even if you use respirator and other protectors, some of the paint will get into your lungs. It is even more dangerous than smoking.

So when you know the risks and disadvantages of this art, you can objectively evaluate if it’s worth it or not. Don’t do something just because it is cool. If you are sure you will become a great artist without major risks, you can go for it, but otherwise choose some better ways how to express your creativity and talent.

What could be more thrilling for an artist than to see their work displayed on a massive canvas, for an entire community to admire? A successful muralist is a fine artist, but also an individual who has a keen sense of scale and dimension. Expand your dream by learning what it takes to be a muralist.

What Is a Muralist?

Muralists are fine art painters. A muralist paints or applies art directly onto walls and/or ceilings, and other large surfaces, often incorporating the architectural elements of a space into the design. Sometimes a muralist will paint directly on a canvas, which is then affixed or cemented to a wall. From the cave paintings at La Marche, in Lussac-les-Châteaux, France to modern street murals in Philadelphia and New York City, muralists have left signs of their art in many places and on many surfaces around the world.

Unlike miniature or even life-size paintings, murals are usually many times larger than life. The word “mural” originates from the Latin word “murus” which means wall. A mural can be decorative, such as a landscape or portrait, or functional, such as a company logo or advertisement. Murals are also culturally and politically important and often used to express individual or social experiences and concerns.

Muralists use a wide assortment of media, like acrylic or oil paint and faux finishes, and create artwork using a variety of techniques. For example, a fresco painting is a method where the paint is applied on plaster on walls or ceilings. Mezzo-fresco, used by Michelangelo, is painted on almost-dry plaster, whereas fresco-secco painting is done on dry plaster.

Today, muralists are also sometimes referred to as street artists, although many professional muralists refuse to honor street art (graffiti and aerosol) as real art, calling it vandalism and an eyesore. However, as the definition of a mural is a large picture painted or affixed to a wall or ceiling, street graffiti artists, like David Wojnarowicz and Keith Banksy, also hold a growing standing in this art field.

What Does a Muralist Do?

Muralists must have a good sense of scale, ensuring all aspects of their artwork work together into one cohesive mural. Besides the technical issues posed by painting or affixing art to a wall or ceiling, there are other artistic issues to overcome. For instance, a muralist must consider what the artwork will look like from all viewpoints. Perspective can be an issue; whereas canvases are hung at eye level, a mural must have the correct perspective from all angles. Glare can be an issue, as can the sun, so choosing the correct paint(s) is important, as is color and preparation of the surface. In addition, as murals must suit the environment and surroundings, muralists must also work around, under or above objects or furnishings.

Muralists must be persistent, as many murals take days, months, or even years to complete. The must pay close attention to even the smallest of details, work independently or as part of a team, have excellent artistic skills, like sketching, rendering, application, and color mixing. They must be skilled in the techniques of ragging, wood graining, marbling, and texturing, and have a complete understanding of art history, motifs, and architecture. Muralists must be able to interpret a client’s needs and wants, take small-scale designs and develop them into large-scale murals, and work to a deadline when necessary. Sometimes muralists work outdoors and must plan ahead for rain, cold or summer heat. They must be cognizant of their surroundings and do what they can to not disrupt sidewalks or pedestrian walkways.

In addition, muralists must keep up-to-date on the latest techniques and materials so they can recommend new and different finishes or patterns to clients. While a degree is not required, choosing to earn a degree can help muralists stay on top of current trends while sharpening their skills and artistic ability.

For these reasons, many muralists attend college and earn an associate or bachelor’s degree in fine art (BFA). Some students don’t enter an art program specifically to become a muralist but decide to enter this career field after taking courses with a concentration in painting. While in college or private art school, a muralist will also take classes in art history, studio art, visual arts, architecture, drawing and illustration, business, history, computer graphics, and advanced painting techniques. Student portfolio class is also a benefit to attending college. Students are advised by professors always to show their best work; a student’s past work, progress, and what was learned while in school. A professional portfolio shows potential clients or employers that a student is capable or understanding, improving, and learning.

Muralists can also study online, take a private painting class, attend a workshop or class at a local art center. They can acquire hands-on experience, gain an understanding of how to estimate the cost of materials needed for a project, and gain job hunting advice by working as an intern or apprentice under a professional muralist.

This guy makes money following his unlikely passion. Here’s how he did it

Meet Tom McDonald, AKA DCipher – a man who proves that graffiti isn’t just something done by people with a talent for art and a lot of time on their hands.

It was when Tom began teaching street art to young students that he realised there was more to graffiti than the culture it’s often linked with – the notion of crime and anti-establishment rhetoric often goes hand-in-hand with painted murals, although Tom says the stereotypes are “just paranoia”.

Graffiti is a powerful medium that’s highly in demand, as Tom’s impressive client base proves; he paints full-time from Australia, where he moved from his native Ireland, and has provided art for the likes of MTV and large rail companies. We asked him how he managed to turn his passion into a full-time job, and found out that even the most creative professions aren’t immune to the dreaded need to network.

Where did the intrigue start?

I fell in love with graffiti back in the 80s when I watched someone write “U2” in fancy 3D words on a wall next to my school’s football pitch. This was long before I even knew who U2 were [laughs]. I thought it was just some subliminal message, written by some mysterious person about their own subversive agenda. That’s where I realised street art has captivating power. That’s where my fascination kicked off.

How would someone become a professional graffiti artist?

It’s not something you can just randomly take up and get paid for. You need experience, and a lot of it. You need to hone your skills before you can charge people for your work as well as building up your reputation and style. Reputation is everything – same as with every profession. No matter what your art or passion is, you have to put the time into it before you can monetise it.

How to become a graffiti artist

How did you make your first sale?

The majority of my work has come about through word of mouth – networking is a big part of the business. I must be doing something right because so far I haven’t had to advertise! Graffiti is all about credibility – it comes down to how you sell yourself. If you have good reputation then corporate sales will come to you.

Have you ever been in trouble for leaving… unsolicited graffiti anywhere?

Luckily I was never arrested for any of the questionable work I did when I was younger. Once I started teaching street art to young people in my 20s, I realised the impact graffiti can have and the importance of using it to create lasting impressions instead of cheap work that’s only worth a glance.

How to become a graffiti artist

What kind of commissions to do you work on, and have you had any notable clients?

I’ve done commissions for tons of different clients: Irish Rail and Cityrail here in Sydney, and from massive brands like MTV Europe to smaller franchise businesses. It’s an eclectic client base. Recently I painted a lovely couple’s newly refurbished kitchen, which was just as satisfying as some of the larger clients I’ve worked with.

People often think graffiti culture is linked to crime. What do you say to that kind of opinion?

These misconceptions are purely down to paranoia. A lot of this fearmongering stems from poor media coverage, negative hype from politician campaigns and parties with other motivations such as property sales. The reality of graffiti culture is we are just crews of guys and girls who like to congregate, create and celebrate art. Some of my strongest friendships have been based on this wonderful bond.

How to become a graffiti artist

You’re from Ireland but moved to Australia – how is the graffiti and creative culture in general different over there?

Maybe it’s the sunshine but people here are generally in better spirits… without the need for spirits, as is often the case back home! The incredible weather also allows me to head outside and paint whenever I want. The USA and Europe have unique graffiti identities, and Australia identifies more with the USA whereas Ireland takes a lot of its influence from Europe.