Graffiti styles are only limited by the artist's imagination. Drawing or writing on walls has been around since prehistoric times and provided some clues on the culture of the people of these eras. Modern graffiti is usually attributed to have started in Philadelphia during the tumultuous 1960s. Various graffiti styles appeared as rival artists competed for space and respect.
- Tag refers to the graffiti artist’s signature and it usually accompanies larger works. Graffiti artists use various calligraphic and script styles to make their graffiti style unique and easily recognizable. To gain popularity, early graffiti artists would “bomb” communities with their tag to try to cover as large an area as possible.
- Top-to-Bottoms graffiti styles are based on the tag style and usually referred to the names of the artists. During the 1970s, an artist's name was composed of a name and a number, like the famous “TAKI 183,” “Super Kool 223” or “STAY HIGH 149.” They were called top-to-bottoms because they covered the entire length and height of subway cars with large thick letters filled with various designs.
- Broadway is attributed to have been introduced by “TOPCAT 126” and consisted of platforms under the stems of long slender letters. They were adorned with various elements such as curls, connections, arrows and twisted letters. The broadway graffiti style further evolved and gave rise to other styles such as leaning letters, block letters and blockbusters.
- Throw up is derived from the bubble style and consisted of a barely filled simple outline. This was the primary style used during from 1975 to 1977, which was also around the time of the largest subway bombings in the transit system. It was very common for rival groups to race, spreading the most graffiti throw ups as fast as possible.
- Wild Graffiti is actually a broad range of complex graffiti styles. These featured highly blended letters, which can make them difficult to read or decipher. They are highly decorated and used a wide variety of colors to make them stand out.