Modern graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with Hip-Hop culture as one of the four main elements of the culture (along with the Microphone Coordinater, the disc jockey, and break dancing), through Hollywood movies such as Wild Style. However, modern (twentieth century) graffiti predates hip hop by almost a decade and has its own culture, complete with its own unique style and slang. Graffiti is known to be the visual expression of the rap music of the decade, where breakdancing is the physical expression. In addition, graffiti has been made synonymous with the anti-establishment punk rock movement of the 1970s, with such bands as Black Flag and Crass stenciling to gain notoriety, thus bringing it into punk culture.*****************Graffiti artists sometimes select their nicknames ("tags"), like screennames, to reflect some personal qualities, but often a tag is chosen for how the word sounds when spoken aloud or how the letters sit with each other when written; usually referred to as how the tag "flows". The letters in a word can make doing pieces very difficult if the shapes of the letters don't sit next to each other in a visually pleasing way. Some tags are also plays on common expressions, such as Page3, 2Shae, 2Cold, In1 and many others. Tags also can represent a word, with an irregular spelling – for example; Train could be Trane or Trayne and Envy could be Envie or Envee. Tags can also contain subtle and often cryptic messages, or, in some cases, the artist's initials or other letters. The current year is often put up next to tags as well; the bomber Tox, from London, never writes just Tox; it is always Tox03, Tox04, etc. In some cases, artists dedicate or create tags or graffiti in memory of a deceased friend – for example, "DIVA Peekrevs R.I.P. JTL '99". Tags are usually between 3 to 5 letters long to make the process of writing them illegally faster, but can be any length at all.*******************Initial groundwork for graffiti began around the late 1960s. Around this time, graffiti was mainly a form of expression by political activists. It was considered a cheap and easy way to make a statement, with minimal risk to the artist, often at the time a hippie. As the foundations of graffiti began, gang graffiti also began to arise, used largely by gangs to mark territory. Some gangs that made use of graffiti during this era included the Savage Skulls, La Familia, and Savage Nomads.********Towards the end of the 1960s the modern culture began to form in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The two graffiti artists considered to be responsible for the first true bombing are "Cool Earl" and "Cornbread".They gained much attention from the Philadelphia press and the community itself by leaving their tags written everywhere. Around 1970-71, the centre of graffiti innovation moved from Philadelphia to New York City. Once the initial foundation was laid (occurred around 1966 - 1971), graffiti "pioneers" began inventing newer and more creative ways to write.**********The years between 1985 and 1989 became known as the "die hard" era. A last shot for the graffiti artists of this time was in the form of subway cars destined for the scrap yard. With the increased security, the culture had taken a step back. The previous elaborate "burners" on the outside of cars were now marred with simplistic marker tags which often soaked through the paint. By mid-1986 the MTA and the CTA were winning their "war on graffiti," and the population of active graffiti artists diminished. As the population of artists lowered so did the violence associated with graffiti crews and "bombing." Some notable graffiti artists of this era from New York and Chicago were Ghost (nyc), Cavs (nyc), Reas (nyc), Sivel (chi), Agent (chi), Con5 (wdi), Trixter (chi), Cope 2(nyc).***********The current era in graffiti is characterized by a majority of graffiti artists moving from subway cars to "street galleries." The Clean Train Movement started in May, 1989, when New York attempted to remove all of the subway cars found with graffiti on them out of the transit system. Because of this, many graffiti artists had to resort to new ways to express themselves. A lot of controversy arose among the streets debating whether graffiti should be considered an actual form of art.
During this period many graffiti artists have taken to displaying their works in galleries and owning their own studios. This practice started in the early 1980s with artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, who started out tagging locations with his signature SAMO (Same Old Shit), and Keith Haring, who was also able to take his art into studio spaces.
In some cases, graffiti artists have achieved such elaborate graffiti (especially those done in memory of a deceased person) on storefront gates that shopkeepers have hesitated to cover them up. In the Bronx after the death of rapper Big Pun, several murals dedicated to his life appeared virtually overnight;similar outpourings occurred after the deaths of The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur.Princess Diana and Mother Teresa were also memorialised this way in New York City.
With the popularity and legitimization of graffiti has come a level of commercialization. In 2001, computer giant IBM launched an advertising campaign which involved people in various states spray painting on sidewalks a peace symbol, a heart, and a penguin (Linux mascot), to represent "Peace, Love, and Linux." However due to illegalities some of the "street artists" were arrested and charged with vandalism.
Along with the commercial growth has come the rise of video games also depicting graffiti, usually in a positive aspect – for example, the game Jet Grind Radio tells the story of a group of teens fighting the oppression of a totalitarian police force that attempts to limit the graffiti artists' freedom of speech. Following the original roots of modern graffiti as a political force came another game title Marc Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure which features a similar story line of fighting against a corrupt city and its oppression of free speech. Mark Ecko, an urban clothing designer, has been an advocate of graffiti as an art form during this period, stating that "Graffiti is without question the most powerful art movement in recent history and has been a driving inspiration throughout my career."**********************Some of the most common styles of graffiti have their own names. A "tag" is the most basic writing of an artist's name in either spray paint or marker. "Tagging" is often the example given when opponents of graffiti refer to vandalism, as the artistic form is lacking and style of penmanship is highlighted more. Another form is "throw-ups" which are normally quickly done pieces featuring very simple pieces using few colors, sacrificing aesthetics for speed. Throw-ups are usually only a few letters and often incorporate exclamation marks. A throw up can also be done using a marker and not just spray paint. A "fill-in" or "piece" is a more elaborate throw-up incorporating more stylized "block" or "bubble" letters, using three or more colors. This of course is done at the expense of timeliness and increases the likelihood of the artist getting caught. A more complex style is "wildstyle" or "wickedstyle", a form of graffiti involving interlocking letters, arrows, and connecting points. These pieces are often harder to read by non graffiti artists as the letters merge into one another in an often undecipherable manner. A "blockbuster" is a "fill-in" that intentionally takes up an entire wall, sometimes with the whole purpose of blocking other "taggers" from painting on the same wall. Some artists also use stickers as a quick way to "get-up". While its critics consider this as lazy and a form of cheating, others find that 5 to 10 minutes spent on a detailed sticker is in no way lazy, especially when used with other methods. Sticker tags are commonly done on blank postage stickers, or really anything with an adhesive side to it. "Stencils" are made by drawing an image onto a piece of cardboard or tougher versions of paper, then cut with a razor blade. What is left is then just simply sprayed-over, and if done correctly, a perfect image is left.**************Many artists involved with Graffiti also are concerned with the similar activity of Stencilling. Essentially, this entails stencilling a print of one or more colours using spray-paint. Graffiti artist John Fekner called "caption writer to the urban environment, adman for the opposition" by writer Lucy Lippard, was involved in direct art interventions within New York City's decaying urban environment in the mid-seventies through the eighties. Fekner is known for his word installations targeting social and political issues, stenciled on buildings throughout New York.
In the UK, Banksy is the most recognisable icon for this cultural artistic movement and keeps his identity secret to avoid arrest. Much of Banksy's artwork can be seen around the streets of London and surrounding suburbs, though he has painted pictures around the world, including the Middle East, where he has painted satirical pictures on Israel's controversial West Bank barrier with satirical images of life on the other side. One depicted a hole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another shows a mountain landscape on the other side. A number of exhibitions have also taken place since 2000, and recent works of art have fetched vast sums of money.