Graffiti taxonomy

Graphic design
Designer | Artist Evan Roth
Year 2009

Cataloguing characters from graffiti tags in New York and Paris, Roth has assembled two taxonomies of graffiti letterforms, capturing regional styles, geographic ranges, commonalities, and deviations. For the Paris study, Roth isolated the ten most commonly used letters (A, E, I, K, N, O, R, S, T, and U) and chose eighteen tags in uppercase and lowercase letters to represent the diversity and range of each character, from simple to ornate. The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, which commissioned the Paris work for the 2009 exhibition Born in the Streets—Graffiti, displayed these tags on the Museum’s exterior, transforming the building into a canvas and learning tool. Roth’s cataloguing of the alphabet in New York is ongoing; on his website he calls for leads from the public, thus crowdsourcing the gathering of specimens.