Graffiti taggers, know this: Your noms de plume — OK, your tags — won’t be mentioned in this story for all to see. In your parlance, that’s too much “ups” — credibility, that is. Brad Etterle doesn’t want you thinking you’re that big a deal.
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There are three varieties of graffiti:
Tag: This is the lowest form of graffiti, often nothing more than a series of spray-painted lines. They may feature letters, numbers or both. They are done quickly, and often.
Throw-up: If you see stenciled images, or names where the perpetrator has taken time to fill in letters with different colors, you’re looking at a throw-up. Some throw-ups in Atlanta feature faces or odd little figures. One throw-upper specializes in fanged skulls.
Piece: Short for masterpiece. Graffiti etiquette dictates that others should not deface a piece with their own work. If you do, the work should be just as good as the one it replaces, and you should paint a peace symbol on it – a gesture of respect to the artist whose work you’ve obliterated.
Graffiti messages fall into four categories:
Tagging: These guys just like to see their tags on just about anything that doesn’t move. This is the most prevalent.
Communication: Political philosophy, environmental messages: communications graffiti runs the gamut. A recent tagger shared these thoughts: “TSA + APD + Homeland Security = Slave Society.”
Hate: Graffiti directed at religious organizations or ethnic groups, or inciting violence, is not taken lightly. Other police, including the department’s homeland security division, will be asking questions.
Gang: Some gangs mark their turf with graffiti; others may cross out their rivals’ graffiti with their own.