How To

How to Pick a Graffiti Name (8 Pro Tips)

graffiti artist wearing hoodie tagging underneath an underpass
Written by Richard September

Can’t decide on a graffiti name? Don’t stress. Here are 8 tips & tricks to help you pick a tag. No name generator required.

One of the biggest challenges you’ll face as a new graffiti writer is choosing what name to write.

After all, you can literally choose any word imaginable. So it’s easy to be overwhelmed by the nearly unlimited number of letter combinations available.

This article aims to help you decide on a graffiti name with 8 expert tips & tricks from graffiti artists themselves. Keep reading to find out more.

Stick around until the end because the last tip is the most important.

8 Pro tips for choosing your graffiti name

1. Keep your name short (6-7 letters max)

No matter what letters you choose to write, it’s always a good idea to keep your graffiti name short and sweet.

A short name is much easier to communicate to other graffiti writers. Plus, it means less time spent writing if you’re putting it up in the streets, which can put you at less risk.

No one has time to write a 12-letter name every time they want to hit a tag or a piece.

A name with fewer letters also means you’ll use less spray paint to put it up.

It may seem minor, but depending on your graffiti style, even just an extra letter can be expensive in the long run if you’re painting a lot.

If you decide to go with a long name, be creative and shorten it for situations where you need to paint fast or when you’re squeezing into smaller spaces.

2. Make your name unique

Everybody knows a “Risk”, “Ghost”, “Task” etc…

Common graffiti names like these have become pretty cliché in the graff world because of how many new artists decide to write them.

Only for them to realise that legendary graffiti writers have been writing these names for years, and eventually give up after realising they have no chance of competing with them for it.

Plus, names like this just add to the boring noise of graffiti. They don’t add anything new to the scene, so why are other writers going to take notice?

That’s why is so important to make your graffiti name unique. Come up with something original, or at least a name that isn’t taken in your local area.

You could even make it something personal, like your nickname or something that reflects your personality.

Just be careful not to make it incriminating. You don’t want it to be easily traced back to you.

Making it unique also means not picking your name off a list of graffiti names you found online.

Sure, maybe use a list to get letter inspiration and go from there. But copying one directly isn’t a good way to begin your graff career.

3. Choose letters you like to draw

If you’re stuck picking a name, try working backwards instead by choosing letters you like to draw and forming a name out of them that way.

Every graffiti writer will have letters they prefer to write over others. This might be completely down to their graffiti style, but it’s pretty common for writers to have a selection of favourite letters.

A good way to find this out is by sketching the entire alphabet.

Which letters do you like the most? Building a name out around these means you’ll avoid letters you don’t like writing or don’t think look good.

From there, you can find creative ways to piece your name together with the letters you like the most.

4. Make sure the name’s not taken

Back to the point of making your name unique: make sure your name isn’t taken.

At least not by anyone in your local area.

In the graff world, it’s not uncommon to see well-known graffiti writers share the same name.

But the difference is usually that they’re from different cities or different sides of the globe entirely. Plus, they’ve likely put in the work to earn it, so there’s mutual respect between established writers with the same tag.

Choosing the same name as someone from your city will cause beef with the other writer. So unless you’re willing to fight for that name against someone more established than you, you better make sure it’s not taken.

The best way to do this is by keeping an eye out everywhere you go and seeing if the name’s up.

Check their style too. If they look like they’ve been putting it up for years, they’re probably well-established so it’s best to avoid it and go with something more original.

5. Make your name easy to pronounce

Graffiti writers often want their names to sound aggressive, sharp and stand out.

All of these things can make a solid graffiti name, but it’s important to make sure it rolls off the tongue easily too.

Having a name that’s easy to pronounce will make it more memorable and less frustrating for other writers to get their heads around.

A graffiti name doesn’t always need to be a word that exists. Be creative and find letters that work.

Just make sure it’s not so complex that it leaves people confused or that they can’t recall it because it’s hard to understand.

6. Sketch your name as much as possible

Sketching your chosen name – or names that you like – over and over is one of the best ways to decide which is the best for you.

There isn’t too much else to say about this tip.

Grab a pen and paper (maybe even pick up some quality blackbook supplies) and keep sketching letters.

Not only will this help you define your graffiti style, but you’ll also get a better idea of the best letters for you so you can form a name around them.

7. Remember that your name will probably change

It’s no secret in graffiti that writers change their names throughout their graff careers.

Ask any well-established writer and they’ll most likely tell you they’ve written a few different names. Or that they have a few different names that they write from time to time.

With that being said, remember that the name you choose isn’t set in stone. You can always change it if you don’t like it, or find something better to write.

Don’t worry about changing your name late into your career either.

If you’ve been putting it up a lot, local graffiti writers can usually tell it’s the same person writing a different name simply based on their style. Which means you aren’t starting from square one.

This brings me nicely to my final tip.

8. Don’t overthink it

The truth is, it really doesn’t matter what name or letters you write. As long as you’re out there getting your name up and pushing the scene, that’s what really counts.

For that reason, don’t let deciding between a name stop you from getting outside and writing graffiti.

As long as you’re practising, you’ll be improving your style. Plus, you’ll be getting better at can control, which is an essential skill for cleaner graffiti.

Just make sure you’re using the right tools for the job.

You might like: 10 Best Spray Paints for Graffiti & Street Art

Common questions about graffiti names and tags

Now you know more about how to choose a graffiti name, here are some common questions that’ll fill in the blanks.

Is there a difference between a graffiti name and a tag?

Graffiti names and graffiti tags are often used interchangeably to describe what an artist writes.

A name and a tag pretty much mean the same thing in this context.

However, a tag can also describe a graffiti style called tagging. This is the most basic form of graffiti – a stylised signature of the graffiti writer’s name.

So in short, yes – a graffiti name and a graffiti tag can be the same thing if someone’s describing the letters an artist writes.

If not, they might be talking about the tagging style of graffiti.

Learn more: Graffiti Styles: 18 Types of Graffiti You Need To Know

How do I know if my graffiti name is taken?

Firstly, before picking a name, you should make sure it’s not taken in your local area.

It should be obvious to you if it’s taken, given that you’ve probably been reading the graffiti in your area for some time and know who’s up.

That’s not to say you can’t use that name. Just be prepared for whatever beef might come your way if you’re gonna put it up.

To get a better idea on a global scale, use search engines like Google to find out.

Try searching for the name you want to pick followed by “graffiti”.

If you see loads of pieces with that name in the same style, it probably means a well-established writer is using it.

That doesn’t mean it’s off-limits.

If they’re on the other side of the world, it’s probably safe to use. If they’re a legend in the graff game or local to you (be ready to fight for it), it’s probably best to choose a different name.

Should I use a graffiti name generator?

You might be tempted to use a graffiti name generator for inspiration.

But any name that these tools spit out won’t be original because anyone can generate them.

If you want a unique name that’s actually going to have some originality to it, you’re unlikely to find it on a name generator – so avoid it.

Instead, follow the tips above to find a name that will actually stand out amongst the noise – not just add to it.

Chosen a graffiti name and ready to hit the streets? Check out our guide to the 10 Essential Graffiti Supplies Every Beginner Needs

About the author

Richard September

Growing up in London, I've always been fascinated by the graffiti that covers the cityscape. From seeing it around where I lived to reading it on the train lines, I was hooked straight away. For over 15 years, I've been painting graffiti and immersing myself in the culture. I graduated from the University of Sussex in 2019 with a BA in Sociology and Media Studies. My final year research project, entitled "Vigilant Vandalism or Mindless Mischief: A Narrative Analysis of Graffiti Writers in London & Brighton", exposed me to the lives of graffiti writers in the field and better shaped my understanding of the culture. I created Graff Storm in 2021 with the mission to help new artists learn more about graffiti culture, find the right tools and avoid toy status.

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