Lesson Plan for Graffiti Unit- Grade 8 Principles and Elements of Design
Christine Lynes Honours Specialist Course 2009
This is a good introductory lesson for 8th graders. You could file it under
design, lettering, or the artist Keith Haring and Symbolism. I like to start
the trimester with this project because it helps me to learn their names,
learn about them while they brainstorm symbols/designs about themselves,
and it also shows me what level they are at in their drawing and knowledge
of art supplies. For those who struggle with symbolism, they can do straight
lettering and design an original tag made up only of creative lettering. They
enjoy learning about Keith Haring and the graffiti discussion is always
lively. We also hit on plagiarism and the importance of originality in the final
design. The principles are learned easily because they have to incorporate
them in the design and then tell me how they emphasized the principles.
The self evaluation is like a wrap up quiz at the end of the project.
Materials: markers, Permanent black markers, colored pencil, crayon,
pastel, paint (provide as many choices as you can manage)
Objectives: Students will
Design an original tag that is representative of self
Be able to incorporate the principles of design in tag
Do some creative lettering
1. Introduce the principles of art – Power Point & take notes on handout
2. Introduce artist of the week – Keith Haring, look at Art & Man magazines.
show PowerPoint of
Graffiti (from Web Resources below)
3. Talk about symbolism used today around us – power point of logos,
graffiti, ancient and modern
4. Explain assignment:
1. Start with a balance plan – symmetrical, asymmetrical, radial
2. Choose 2-3 other principles you want to emphasize
3. Use objective pictures, lettering or symbols or non-objective designs
but make sure the final design is original and not a copy of something
you have seen. Talk about plagiarism.
4. Make several thumbnail size sketches to start brainstorming ideas on
5. Mini-lesson on lettering – basic block, bubble letters, using graph
paper, stylized lettering
6. Choose one of your sketches to create in full color – size 12X18 (or
whatever size paper teacher selects)
Draw lightly so your pencil lines don’t show through
Be careful of black because it can smear and make your colors dirty –
use last! Permanent Black Marker could be used for outlining if desired.
If you paint, tape down paper to prevent curling
Pastels for backgrounds or large areas only and they will need
Storage of Projects
See Rubric Student self assessment
Online Activity: Graffiti Creator http://www.graffiticreator.net/ also see
Graffiti Generator (this is full of Yahoo ads)
Keith Haring Links page:
Art Crimes the Writing on the Wall.
Best Graffiti sites (check before using with kids):
Mr. Wiggles http://www.mrwiggles.biz/id171.htm
Site has graffiti lessons and alphabets (several different styles of letters).
You can not save the alphabet images to file, but can probably print them
New York Street Art:
Check images before using with kids.
José Parlá http://www.joseparla.com/ Paintings, graffiti art. Parlá now lives
in New York City.
Artist who uses spray paint - Paco Rosic Aerosol Art
Bansky - http://www.banksy.co.uk/menu.html
"Clean Graffiti" -
Graffiti Exhibit - http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/exhibitions/graffiti/
Extra credit: Keith Haring – symbolism worksheet - Extra credit tag for our
Suggestions from Pam Stephens:
For those of you who are contemplating a lesson or unit of study concerning
graffiti, I encourage you to go beyond the idea of vandalism (tagging). There
is a wide variety of serious artists whose work is considered graffiti, but it
takes the concept to a deeper level.
Also consider that the media of graffiti can include much more than spray
paint. One artist uses a sock to wipe away dirt and grime to create
wonderful images. Others use stencil methods with temporary and
permanent media (charcoal or paint).
Look for meaning or artistic intent and the develop a strong lesson around
The ethics and aesthetics of graffiti are a bounty for any classroom
discussion/exploration. Just the idea of trying to define graffiti is interesting.
Is it art? High art? Low art? Something else?
The Principles of Design Self Evaluation
Graffiti Tag Name Design
Name ____________________________________________ period _______
1. Was your design objective (a recognizable subject) or non-objective (just a
2. Which kind of balance did you use?
Symmetrical (equal on both sides) Asymmetrical (informal placement)
Radial (from a center point)
3. Circle two other principles of design you think you showed in your tag
Proportion (size) Emphasis (one part stands out) Variety
Rhythm (movement) Pattern (repeating) Unity (goes
4. Tell/describe how you used the two principles or how they show in your
Principle #1: ________________________________________________________________
Principle #2: __________________________________________________________________
How do you feel about the following? (circle one for #5 and #6)
5. Craftsmanship – neatly done average improvement is
possible up-grade is suggested
6. Use of Class Time - worked every day average limited not
7. Outcome: How do you like your tag? Describe what you learnt and re-tell
8. Is there anything you would do differently or change?
9. Tell me what your “tag” stands for or the meaning behind your symbol:
Turn in this form with your project to the basket