How to Write Your Name Graffiti Style

Graffiti style lettering is used by urban artists to tag walls, paintings, murals or messages. This style has migrated from imposed urban tagging to a legitimate artistic style now found in museums and art installations. To write your name using graffiti style lettering is not difficult. It is helpful to look at reference images of graffiti styles you like so that you have samples of how the letters might look.

Place drawing paper on the table. Draw a horizontal baseline to represent the bottom edge of the letters. Draw a parallel line 2 inches above the first line as a guide line for the top of the letters.

Print the letters of your name in all capital letters along the top right edge of your paper. Count the letters. Most letters are valued at a 1 or whole letter. M, W are valued at 1 1/2. The letters I and L may be valued at 1/2. This is because some letters are wider or narrower than others. Divide the number of letters in half.

Measure the width of your paper and divide the width in half. This gives you the centre mark for your name. Measure from the centre to the left for the first half of your name and divide that measurement by half the number of letters in your name. This will give you the approximate width of each letter. Mark out your letter spacing across the page using your letter width measurement.

Look at the first letter of your name. See the letter as simple shapes like rectangles, circles, and triangles. If the first letter of your name is an A, you have three thin rectangles. Draw the letter A as three overlapping rectangles on the paper away from your measured area. To make the boxy letter look like a graffiti letter you need to distort the letter by bending the rectangles. Draw a second version with a straight rectangle on the left and a bent shape on the right with a rectangular cross bar.

Continue drawing versions of your A on scrap paper until you have one that looks the way you want. Sketch in your first letter of your name on the measured area of your drawing paper. Repeat the process for each letter. The letters should overlap or run into each other at the sides but still be identifiable. Complete the sketch of your name in pencil.

Position your finished rough drawing of your name at the top of the drawing table. Place illustration paper of the same size in front of you. Lightly draw your baselines. Use a black marker to draw in the outlines of your graffiti lettered name using only the baselines as height guides. Because you have a rough drawing, you know how each letter will fit so you can estimate the marker letters.

Draw each letter freehand. You will notice that your freehand lettering will not match your rough sketch exactly. Graffiti lettering at its core is fluid and emotional, so it changes during execution unlike more rigid forms of lettering. Add shadows to one side and along the bottom edge of your letters.

Colour in your letters with coloured markers to add dimension and vitality. Indicate a background colour around the edges of the letters. Allow yourself to express feeling by adding marks, colours, lines, decorations or anything that feels right.


Learning the spacing of letters is a basic technique to help prevent your lettering from running out of room. Other elements can be added to the design like images, objects, portraits, scenes or other icons.

Things You'll Need

  • Drawing paper
  • Pencil
  • Straight edge
  • Illustration paper
  • Markers
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About the Author

F.R.R. Mallory has been published since 1996, writing books, short stories, articles and essays. She has worked as an architect, restored cars, designed clothing, renovated homes and makes crafts. She is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley with bachelor's degrees in psychology and English. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.