Graffiti fonts are taking over the world of typography because of their unique and urban vibe. With their usually vivid and embellished colors and outlines, they’re perfect for catching the attention of viewers, readers, and spectators. Because of these design traits, graffiti fonts have also become more legitimate with their use in advertising campaigns. Part and parcel of these fonts is their ability to invoke emotion by relying on evocative—and some would say provocative—images and shapes.
In the last couple of decades, graffiti in general has gained more recognition as an art form instead of an urban menace, which has helped give rise to the abundance of graffiti font resources on the web. Of course, these fonts are just outrageously creative and really cool to look at, too, which have helped their popularity!
Let’s dig deeper into all the interesting areas of this creative form of expression.
The History of Graffiti Fonts
The history of graffiti fonts lies in the origins of graffiti itself, so it’s important that we examine the roots of graffiti before anything else.
“Artwork in an Indonesian cave has been found to date back at least 40,000 years, making it the oldest sign yet of human creative art — likely pre-dating art from European caves.”
Since graffiti is, according to Merriam-Webster, “any pictures or words painted or drawn on a wall, building, etc.” these earliest cave paintings from Indonesia definitely qualify as very ancient graffiti.
In a PBS article, modern graffiti’s origin is traced back to high-school kids in urban areas in the 1960s. According to the book “The History of American Graffiti,” high-school student “Cornbread” is credited with being the earliest modern graffiti artist, when he began tagging (an official term to denote the specific hand style of the graffiti artist) city walls all over Philadelphia in 1967.
Bet you can’t guess the reason, though! It was to impress a girl—a favorite pastime of high-school boys all around the globe.
From there, modern graffiti took another two decades before it was being showcased in some art galleries in the U.S. as actual artwork instead of just paintings and illustrations being spray-painted onto walls and buildings.
With the Internet becoming more accessible and available to average people in the 1990s, graffiti took a turn from the streets to the web, with both images of graffiti on the streets and graffiti art products becoming more widespread as artists exchanged ideas and contact info online. According toGraffitiKnowhow.com, the year 2000 saw the biggest development and evolution of style and technique since modern graffiti first burst onto the urban scene decades earlier, all thanks to the connectivity of the web.
The Internet provided the perfect evolution of this art form, with graffiti typefaces and fonts popping up on more sites as creatives started to realize how this unique style made for great design in everything from flyers, product packaging and pamphlets to magazines, t-shirts and books.
First of all, in spite of its illegal origins—at least in the modern sense—graffiti has been mainstreamed in the media and pop culture as art. Helping this turnaround of its image are businesses like TATS CRU, which is a professional graffiti team that will actually create spectacular murals for your wall—at a price and legally. Graffiti artists like Scape Martinez have actually published books like “GRAFF: The Art & Technique of Graffiti”, further moving this activity out from the underground.
Because of this mainstreaming, it’s more socially acceptable to create and sell graffiti fonts, but other factors contribute to their popularity, too.
These fonts are incredibly creative works of art that communicate vibrancy, evocativeness and great deals of personality and character. They’re easy on the eyes and nice to look at while it’s also interesting to try to read into the psychology behind their creation.
There’s also the sheer utility of these typefaces. How designers and creatives can apply them to a virtually limitless number of projects is almost mind-blowing. Graffiti fonts can be used for:
Graffiti fonts combine aesthetic beauty with utility that speaks to creatives' open-minded and entrepreneurial interests.
What Makes Graffiti Fonts so Unique in Their Design and Style
No question about it: Take a gander at any font family of graffiti, and you’ll notice immediately how it stands out compared to any other font design and style. These types of fonts tend to be brasher and louder, not being afraid to be in your face with personality and colorfulness.
Graffiti fonts typically have the element of exaggeration and absurdity to them, as they display surreal outlines and shapes together with vivid colors. This can make some font families sometimes difficult to read properly, but such fonts are purely artistic and not meant to be all that functional in the first place.
It’s interesting to note that graffiti isn’t just one kind of style with just different variations. Within the graffiti subculture, there are actually dedicated forms that have their own unique identity and style. This sense of individuality—which really indicates the personal and creative nature of this art form—is another aspect that makes graffiti fonts stand out from other font families.
Take, for example, the form called Wildstyle, which is very stylized, but also quite complicated to draw and master. It’s defined by works that feature arrows, spikes and curves, and these are created by various techniques like shadows, gradients and glows. All very intricate stuff, indeed!
All of these variations explain why graffiti fonts have so many unique styles: They’re taking their inspiration directly from these real-life examples of street graffiti.
List of The Best Graffiti Fonts
In the 21st century, artists no longer have to vandalize any location to display their graffiti art. Thanks to the web, they can instead simply create gorgeous and highly creative fonts that they can showcase publicly and legally, whether or not they decide to make them available for free or sell them for a small profit.
To save you the trouble of doing extensive searches on the Internet, we’ve tracked down the most attractive graffiti fonts for you:
Wallpoet – Aptly named Wallpoet, this graffiti typeface from designer Lars Berggren takes its inspiration from wall writings found in urban landscapes, yet it’s still readable enough to be useful for more than just aesthetic effect. It’s available free of use, as long as it’s not sold by itself.
Sprite Graffiti Font – Featuring a merging of legibility and graffiti style, this appealing font was created in Cyrillic and can be used by a wider audience than just graffiti buffs. It’s available for free.
The Graffiti Font – The Graffiti Font by Mike Karolos is your quintessential graffiti typeface that harkens back to the era of decades gone by. Available both in beautiful, vibrant colors and black and white, it’s available for free for both personal and commercial uses.
The Dope Script – Sam Parrett’s Dope Script is chock-full of personality due to its rough and raw texture and feel. When you buy this font, you’re free to use it for commercial use in an unlimited number of products.
Atomic Dustbin Font – From It’s me simon, This grungy graffiti font is bursting with character. Its excellent for bold and heavy headlines since it has no lowercase glyphs. A font license gives you unlimited commercial use.
Note that many of these stellar graffiti fonts aren’t free for commercial use. That’s because their respective creators and owners want you to buy a font license before they’re made available for commercial use. In most cases, all fonts you see on the Internet, such as the graffiti fonts in our marketplace—are all subject to licensing. That is, you have to pay the creator before you can use it on your computer(s) for different projects. You might also have to buy more licenses if you want to use a specific font on different devices.
The process of buying a font license is super-easy. Here’s how to get one:
1) Identify a font that you want to buy from a vendor.
2) Purchase the font, which lets you download it (this is technically purchasing the license agreement for the font, too).
3) Ensure that you know for how many computers the font license you’re buying is good for (Normally, a license doesn’t let you share fonts between various devices).
How to Draw Graffiti Fonts
Graffiti fonts are fun to use in your different design projects, just look at and even draw. If you’re curious about how to start drawing them (or, if you’re already a graffiti-font creator, learn how to improve at creating them), you’re in luck. There are a great many resources on the web that show you a step-by-step breakdown of how to draw your own fonts.
Graffiti has taken a bad rap over the decades due to its illegality. In spite of that, graffiti is artsy and creative, not to mention attention-grabbing and vibrant. That’s why graffiti fonts are the perfect compromise where you can still let your creative juices flow, but within the confines of the law.
From its start in the ancient world to urban American and now to the Internet and computers all over the globe, graffiti is an indelible part of art, painting and drawing. What better way to get your fill of this unique and highly stylized expression of creativity than with awesome graffiti fonts?