Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Graffiti Art Lessons with Draw Tags

Graffiti is said to be an American art form that was started by kids and has lasted more than 40 years with no sign of its popularity wavering.  Lionheart has been fascinated by the fat, colorful letters ever since he first began to draw.  When Draw Tags arrived in the mail, he couldn't wait to pop it open.

 I like instructions.  A nice little booklet that explained the materials with suggestions on how to best utilize them would have been nice.  Lionheart needed no such thing.  He opened it up and got right to work.

I spent a great deal of time trying to peel off what I thought were stickers, but it turns out is a guide for how to color the blank graffiti letters that are in the smaller coloring book that is included.  It also includes 6 train car sheets to practice creating colorful bubble-letters and 3 blank truck sheets.

Again, clearly my old-fashioned way of thinking about instructions didn't slow down LionHeart one bit. He understood right away that double-ended, felt-tip pens, included with the set and also labeled with numbers, were to be used to replicate the designs in the coloring book.

Maybe leaving off intrusive instructions was intentional in order to preserve the "joy of creating."  When I visited the website of the makers of the product, I learned Djeco was a French-owned company started by the mother and later taken over by the son.  Their focus is importing unique toys from all over the world and creating those that don't exist.

Besides, graffit artists don't really need instruction manuals, do they? As a child of the 80s, I understand how graffiti art and Hip Hop music are intertwined. However, when I think of graffiti, I think of New York City, certainly not France.  After a few Google searches, I learned that French were among the first to embrace Hip Hop music.  Who knew.

It's no wonder that these cardboard versions of New York City storefronts are so authentic.  What I loved most about this Draw Tag kit were the extended learning opportunities and conversations it sparked.  We looked up famous graffiti artists and learned about Jean-Michel Basquiat.  We also re-read one of our favorite picture books about Hip Hop, When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of HipHop.

Lionheart, a doughnut lover, chose a doughnut shop to decorate with doughnut graffiti art.  There's also a nail shop, a Chinese and an Indian storefront, accurately reflecting the international flavor of NYC.

This Draw Tag Kit will surely provide many weeks of not only creating, but also studying graffiti.  We'll probably use this timeline as our guide as we tag our way through the history of this art form.

One thing for sure we'll do is visit the famous Mural Arts Program in the city of Philadelphia, where LionHeart's father was born and raised.  The are more than 3,000 graffiti art murals around the city. You can also find a large concentration of graffiti art and programs in New York, Miami during their annual Basel festival, Los Angeles, Bogota, Colombia, Sao Paulo, Brazil, London, Paris, Montreal and even Berlin

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