know the lingo

"black book"

A graffiti vandal's sketchbook. Often used to sketch out and plan potential graffiti, and to collect tags from other vandals. It is a graffiti vandal's most valuable property, containing all or a majority of the person's sketches and pieces.


To steal another artist's ideas or lettering schemes. Seasoned artists will often complain about toys that bite their work.


To bomb or hit is to paint many surfaces in an area. Bombers often choose throw-ups or tags over complex pieces, as they can be executed more quickly.

"CAP," "FAT," or "SKINNY" (tips)

Interchangable spray-can nozzles fitted to the can to vary the width of spray.


A crew, krew, or cru is a group of graffiti vandals.


The use of acid solutions intended for creating frosted glass, such as Etch Bath, to write on windows.


Also referred to as "bombs," "throw ups," or "throwies". Fills describe a piece of graffiti that is either filled in a rush or a solid fill. A fill is also the interior base color of the piece of graffiti.

"getting up"

To work your reputation or "rep" through graffiti.

"Heavens" or "graffiti" heaven spots

Pieces that are painted in hard-to-reach places such as rooftops and freeway signs, thus making them hard to remove. Such pieces, by the nature of the spot, often pose dangerous challenges to execute, but may increase a vandal's notoriety.


also referred to as "outlines" and "shells". A hollow is a piece of graffiti that contains no fill.


Graffiti vandals who are especially respected among other vandals.


A graffiti piece or production that is made with permission.


A type of homemade graffiti marker used for larger tags that often has a round nib and leaves a fat, drippy line. Mops may be filled with various inks or paints.

"piece" (short form of masterpiece)

A large and labor-intensive graffiti.


Shoplifting or robbing, not limited to but including paint, markers, inks, caps, and clothes.

"tag" (scribble)

A stylized signature, normally done in one color. The simplest and most prevalent type of graffiti, a tag is often done in a color that contrasts sharply with its background.


A throw-up or "throwie" sits between a tag and a piece in terms of complexity and time investment. It generally consists of a one-color outline and one layer of fill-color. Easy-to-paint bubble shapes often form the letters. A throw-up is designed for quick execution, to avoid attracting attention to the vandal. Throw-ups are often utilized by vandals who wish to achieve a large number of tags while competing with rivals.


Used as an adjective to describe poor work, or as a noun meaning an inexperienced or unskilled graffiti vandal.


Vandals become up when their work becomes widespread and well-known.


Graffiti with text so stylized as to be difficult to read, often with interlocking, three-dimensional type.


A practitioner of graffiti.