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Wildstyle in Los Angeles by RIME
Wildstyle in San Francisco by CHEZ

Wildstyle is a complicated and intricate form of graffiti. They are the most complex type of pieces. Due to its complexity, wildstyle can be difficult to read for those unfamiliar with the form and process.[1][2] It is considered the most difficult graffiti style to master.[3]

A semi-wildstyle using the letter RASE


Wildstyle is an extremely complex form of graffiti in which letters have been transformed to the point that it is illegible to those who are not familiar with this style.[1] This illegibility is sometimes considered a defining trait of the style.[2]

Wildstyle has drawn inspiration from traditional calligraphy[4] and has been described by some as partially abstract[5] but does have specific traits associated with the form. The letters in wildstyle graffiti are often highly exaggerated with curves and overlapping, intertwined, and interlocking letters.[1] Arrows are very common in wildstyles,[1] and are used to suggest flow.[6] Wildstyle pieces often use large amounts of vibrant colours.[7] It is also common practice to incorporate 3D elements into wildstyle paintings.[1]

Some pieces that are considered on the borderline between what is and isn't a wildstyle are called semi-wildstyle or semi-wild.[8]


The term "wildstyle" was popularized by the Wild Style graffiti crew formed by Tracy 168 of the Bronx, New York in 1974[9] and was named after his crew, Wild Style.[1] The style became more popular through-out the 1980s.[2]

Phase 2 is also credited as one of the earliest writers of wildstyle.[10]

Complex and elaborate graffiti writing had been called numerous terms such as "mechanical letters." It was founded by Rif, Phase II and Stan 153. Kase II later introduced "computer-rock". The stylistic approach advanced at the same time Wild Style crew grew large and spread throughout New York City.[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gottlieb, Lisa (2014-01-10). Graffiti Art Styles: A Classification System and Theoretical Analysis. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5225-5.
  2. ^ a b c Lovata, Troy R.; Olton, Elizabeth (2016-06-16). Understanding Graffiti: Multidisciplinary Studies from Prehistory to the Present. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-315-41612-0.
  3. ^ Collins, Anna (2017-07-15). Graffiti: Vandalism or Art?. Greenhaven Publishing LLC. ISBN 978-1-5345-6112-0.
  4. ^ Brown, Michelle; Carrabine, Eamonn (2017-07-06). Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-49754-7.
  5. ^ Abdullah, Sarena; Mohamad, Norshahidan (2015-07-06). "Incorporation And Exploration Of Local Imageries And Identities In Malaysia's Graffiti Art". Journal of Visual Art and Design. 7 (1). doi:10.5614/j.vad.2015.7.1.4 – via 41-54.
  6. ^ Whitehead, Jessie L. (2004-11-01). "Graffiti: The Use of the Familiar1". Art Education. 57 (6): 25–32. doi:10.1080/00043125.2004.11653573. ISSN 0004-3125.
  7. ^ Rafferty, Pat (1991). "Discourse on Difference: Street Art/ Graffiti Youth". Visual Anthropology Review. 7 (2): 77. ISSN 1058-7187.
  8. ^ Edwards-Vandenhoek, Samantha (2022-10-20). "The graffiti within: the reactivation and politicisation of Sydney's subterranean". Visual Studies. 37 (5): 649–663. doi:10.1080/1472586X.2020.1869065. ISSN 1472-586X.
  9. ^ Gottlieb, Lisa (2014-01-10). Graffiti Art Styles: A Classification System and Theoretical Analysis. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5225-5.
  10. ^ Snyder, Gregory J. (2011-04-15). Graffiti Lives: Beyond the Tag in New York’s Urban Underground. NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-4046-0.
  11. ^ http://www.at149st.com/ws.html at149st.com entry on Wild Style

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