Thursday, November 6, 2008


In the second half of the 20th century, urban gangs began using graffiti as a territorial marker. This practice, known as "tagging," continues today, but is now practiced by people unaffiliated with gang activity as well.

Young males between 13 and 25 create most of the graffiti that's out there. A “tagger” will usually use a pen, marker, or spray-paint to put a unique design in a public place. The design will be proprietary to the tagger and may be initials, an illustration, or a combination of numbers and letters that is unique -- like a signature. Most tags represent the tagger's nickname, and tend to be short so as to make them easier to complete quickly.

Tagging in its most basic form is nothing more than advertisement for its author. Promience, difficulty, and proliferation of one’s tag gain the author status in the tagging community. Individual taggers or "tagging crews" of friends account for most of the graffiti you may see.

Gang-related Graffiti
Gangs use graffiti to mark territory and as a way to communicate both internally and externally. Gang graffiti is usually simple, as its authors are more interested in marking territory and communicating short messages than they are in artistic expression.
A tag created by a gang member features the name of his gang. Tag wars occur when members of another gang use another color to cross it out and leave their own tag. Gangs undergo this process to claim their turf. The more artistic the image, the more likely it's the work of a tagger crew and not a gang. Gangs don't bother as much with art; they are concerned only about making their presence known.

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