Practice makes perfect and if you’re looking to perfect any skill in graffiti then sketching in a blackbook is the number one way to up your skill level. For a graffiti writer the blackbook is a constant necessity that lets you know you are growing and experimenting as a writer. The blackbook or sketchbook is so important because it allows you to find your voice and style as a writer without having to spend tons of money on graffiti equipment or show everyone every failure you make.
There are numerous ways you can break down the required skills of putting up a tag and practice them individually within your blackbook. For example, taking a piece from another writer and trying to emulate his writing in order to get a better understanding of how he created certain shapes or how certain styles work. Some might think this makes you a toy if you copy down the works of others but everyone is influenced and inspired by other writers, no writer is an island to him or herself so being able to look at your influences and figure out what you like about what they do and what you don’t like and incorporate that into your work is key to finding your own individual style. Think of it as your research and development center for your entire career.
Taking a word and trying to break it down to see what it means to you becomes a key factor then in how you approach creating your piece and that requires you to experiment and fail often in your sketches. Making a word fit with a background and characters to give it context is one way to experiment and grow as a writer. However if your typography skills aren’t up to snuff then complex pieces become unreadable. A dedicated writer then will make a regular practice of copying down the alphabet in different graffiti styles as a way to strengthen his typography skills. A skilled writer can take a word and make all of the shapes fit together as a whole shape and create a silhouette that can grab your attention from a mile away and only reveals how complex it is the closer you get to it.
For supplies we recommend Potentate or Ironlak markers to use on your blackbook. Writers have found that markers and sharpies are a great substitute for the flat colors and lines you will use in a real piece. As you get better over the years and learn new skills and techniques and fill up more black books you will discover that you appreciate the freedom of the blackbook more and more as a tool for failure and from that comes growth. You’ll be able to look back on your personal history, your trials and triumphs as you work towards that perfect tag.
You can find below 20 winning sketches of past sketch battles we’ve held at Bombing Science. You can, by the way, participate in sketch battles by going in the Battle Forum. Remember, practice makes perfect!