By , June 12, 2009 5:40 pm

I have compiled the following resources to assist you in providing the best possible Street Styles workshop experience for your students.


Before I arrive…

  1. Ask your students what words come to mind when you say the word “graffiti”.
  2. Ask your students if they know when graffiti was invented.
  3. Give the definition of graffiti, which comes from the Italian word “graffito” which means “scratch or mark on a wall”. Suggest that graffiti was invented by Egyptians (as in hieroglyphics) or even perhaps by early man (as in cave painting). Show pictures of hieroglyphics and cave painting.
  4. Have students think about creating art for one or more of the following purposes:
    • to educate / as a call to action
    • to beautify
    • with an agenda / political motivation (propaganda)
    • for the intention of elevating your alias (artist name) or a character you create
  5. Have students begin to think of what they would like to use as an alias for their tag and/or a character they will create.

After I leave…

  1. Discuss respect in regards to your personal integrity, your teachers, fellow artists, your workspace, your materials, your own artwork, your school, neighborhood, community, and city.
  2. Ask the students to talk about what aspects of the program connected with them personally.
  3. Review and discuss the “Three P’s” – Purpose, Placement, and Permission.
  4. Have students individually show and talk about the artwork they created and have an open classroom discussion / critique of the work using the below vocabulary.



Definitions from

Black Book : A writer’s sketchbook where outlines and ideas to be executed are kept and worked out. Also referred to as a “piecebook” or a “writer’s bible”.

Fill : The solid interior color of letters on a piece or throwup.

Outline : The drawing done in a piecebook in preparation for doing the actual piece. Also called a sketch. Can also refer to the outline put on the wall and then filled, or the final outline done around the piece to finish it.

Piece : A graffiti painting, short for masterpiece. It’s generally agreed that a painting must have at least three colors to be considered a piece.

Tag : The most basic form of graffiti, a writer’s signature with marker or spray paint. It is the writer’s logo, his/her stylized personal signature. If a tag is long it is sometimes abbreviated to the first two letters or the first and last letter of the tag. Also may be ended with the suffixes “one”, “ski”, “rock”, “em” and “er”.

For more graffiti vocabulary see:
Art Crimes Graffiti

The Three P’s

Just as students learn the three R’s in school, my students learn the three P’s in Street Styles. The three P’s are what separate street art from vandalism. In order to be true artists, all students must learn them and apply them at all times. The three P’s of Street Styles are Purpose, Placement, and Permission.
The three P’s aren’t rules: they are questions and topics to consider. By framing them this way, students are taught to think for themselves about what makes the difference between art and vandalism—rather than just being told what’s illegal and destructive. The principles of the three P’s are reinforced in class via group discussions, writing assignments, and by observing examples of street art, graffiti, and gang graffiti in photographs.

  • What is the purpose of your art?
  • Why are you putting your art in public?
  • What are you trying to communicate or express?


  • Think of why and where you put your artwork.
  • How is your art using and enhancing the space?
  • Does your choice of placement show respect for other street artists’ work?
  • Can your artwork be easily removed?


  • Have you asked permission to put up your art by explaining your purpose and placement? If not, why not?


Classroom Connections

Language Arts

  • Write a plan/outline to establish your purpose in creating your artwork.
  • Write a (mock or real) proposal to a community organization to get permission and/or funding to paint a mural in public space.


  • Measuring and calculating surface area of a wall for a mural.
  • Calculate materials cost of paint for a mural by using area calculation formulas and estimation.


  • Considering eco-friendly materials for creating artwork outdoors.
  • Using the internet for sharing artistic ideas and collaborating with the international art community.

U.S. History

  • Talk about the democratic nature of street art and its role in the 2008 presidential election. Shepard Fairey’s Obama HOPE image, and many other street artists for and against Obama.
  • Sociology of graffiti / street art as communication. Graffiti as a manifestation of a society’s subconscious because of its anonymous nature.

World History & Culture

  • Street Art as a global art movement has numerous similarities which define it as a movement and regional differences which reflect local cultures.
  • Compare modern street art from a region with historical art from the same area for similarities and differences in styles and themes/subject matter.

Black History & Culture

  • Graffiti as the visual element of Hip Hop culture. (MC’ing/Rapping , DJ’ing, Graffiti Writing, Breakdancing)

Physical Education

  • Sticker tagging relay race.

Life Skills

  • Respect is the focal point of the Street Styles program.
  • Teaching art as a form of communication.
  • Developing verbal and written communication skills to discuss art with a purpose.


Indiana State Standards

  1. Students understand principals of visual art and methods of creating art.
  2. Students understand visual art as a way to create and communicate.
  3. Students use critical thinking skills to analyze artworks and consider the concepts of purpose, placement, and permission.
  4. Students understand art from diverse cultures and historical periods.
  5. Students understand using applied math, writing, and technology skills in the process of creating artwork.

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