A Two Dimensional Flow Is Defined By Its Components The History and Evolution of Arrows in Graffiti Art

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The History and Evolution of Arrows in Graffiti Art

One of the most important design elements in graffiti art is the arrow. Arrows express movement and energy. In her groundbreaking book “Tag Town,” Martha Cooper photographed the vintage graffiti tags in her Washington Heights neighborhood, which are still visible from the 1970s to early 1980s (tags are the ones you find hard to read on mailboxes and other surfaces around most cities). Many of these tags included arrows, as well as stars, hearts, numbers, and crowns. After studying images of these early tags, we were able to determine that the complex variations of arrows in today’s advanced wildstyle graffiti letterforms originated from simple graffiti tags.

An arrow is an internationally recognized symbol used on signs to indicate direction, similar to “entrance” or “exit”. In graffiti art, however, arrows are a powerful, visual tool that is combined with letters to give them motion and dynamism. An arrow guides the viewer’s eyes in a particular direction. The arrow can emerge from any side of the letter, in and out, back and forth, and in circles, creating depth and rhythm on a two-dimensional surface. Graffiti artist Izzo says that every graffiti writer has their own arrow, and it’s true: the arrow’s variations and design possibilities are endless. An arrow can be drawn in all shapes and sizes; Thick and coarse or long and spiny, pointed or square, with single or multiple ends. An arrow can organically follow the flow and direction of a letter like a well. Or it can fly from the side it exits like a missile like the artwork of “The Ramelzi” known as Gothic Futurism.

Therefore, early graffiti writers incorporated simple arrows and other basic design elements into their tags to make them stand out and attract attention. From those simple beginnings, the arrow has evolved into its own multifaceted, complex and autonomous art object. Mare 139, an artist and graffiti writer from New York, actually creates beautiful, 3-dimensional sheet-metal sculptures with only arrows, light and space as part of his design. We think arrows are a fascinating and diverse element of graffiti letterform, providing artists and students with constant possibilities for innovation and style. We absolutely love arrows.

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