Letters are at the centre of all visual communication. Letter- forms are like clothes; you need to wear the right style at the right occasion in order to be taken seriously. Graffiti letterforms could be described as the haute couture of type design. The most popular graffiti letterforms are both mirrors of popular culture as well as design classics, by their timeless appeal.
In Forms of Rockin’, graffiti styles are connected to graphic design and popular culture expressions like music, movies, fashion and industrial design. Anssi Arte defines the traditional graffiti letterforms of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, and analyses some of the most powerful symbols of our culture in order to understand how ideals and trends are communicated and spread through abstract forms and all aspects of design. The visual styles of icons like Rick Griffin, James Brown, Blade Runner, the Memphis group and rave and grunge music all appear together with classic fonts and graffiti styles.
The analytical narrative and the more than 100 carefully crafted visualizations make this book appealing to both graphic design aficionados as well as graffiti enthusiasts. But Forms of Rockin’ is more than that. This is a must for everybody interested in contemporary popular culture and design history and a groundbreaking book about graffiti, display typefaces and design.
”Although the form of the letters is one of the most profound elements in graffiti, I haven’t found a book that would give a more in-depth explanation to the subject”, as author Anssi Arte puts it.
Forms of Rockin’ traces and defines the stylistic conventions in graffiti letterforms that have become iconic and globally acknowledged ideals. Art movements like Art Nouveau, Bauhaus, Constructivism and Futurism are still evident in the visual trends of post-modern popular culture and in graffiti letterforms, whether intentional or not. From the early New York tags to the mid-1990s ugly styles of Scandinavia, Forms of Rockin’ tells the story of how popular culture and graffiti styles influences each other.
About the author
Anssi Arte (b. 1981) is a Helsinki-based graphic designer specialized in visual identities and brand architecture. He has a formal (MA) education in graphic design from the Aalto University of Arts, Design and Architecture. Besides graphic design he is a graffiti enthusiast since childhood, specialized in studying and practising the traditional European and Scandinavian letterforms and aesthetics.