Graffiti is the name for images or lettering scratched or scrawled on public property.
Graffiti has existed since ancient times, with examples going back to Ancient Greece and the Roman Empire. Graffiti can be anything from simple scratch marks to elaborate wall paintings. In modern times, spray paint and markers have become the most commonly used materials. In most countries, defacing property with graffiti without the property owner's consent is considered vandalism, which is punishable by law. Sometimes graffiti is employed to communicate social and political messages. To some, it is an art form worthy of display in galleries and exhibitions. However, the public generally frowns upon "tags" that deface bus stops, trains, buildings, playgrounds and other public property.
Historically, the term graffiti originally referred to the inscriptions, figure drawings, etc., found on the walls of ancient sepulchers or ruins, as in the Catacombs of Rome or at Pompeii. Usage of the word has evolved to include any decorations (inscribed on any surface) that one can regard as vandalism; or to cover pictures or writing placed on surfaces, usually external walls and sidewalks, without the permission of an owner. Thus, inscriptions made by the authors of a monument are not classed as graffiti.
Modern graffiti is often seen as having become intertwined with Hip-Hop culture as one of the four main elements of the culture (along with the Master of ceremony, the disc jockey, and break dancing), through Hollywood movies such as Wild Style. However, modern (twentieth century) graffiti predates hip hop by almost a decade and has its own culture, complete with its own unique style and slang.
Graffiti artists sometimes choose nicknames for them as an artist. These names are chosen for one of many reasons. Artists want tags to be quick to write so they are often from 3 to 5 characters in length. The name is chosen to reflect personal qualities and characteristics, or because of the way the word sounds, and/or for the way it looks once written. The letters in a word can make doing pieces very difficult if the shapes of the letters don't sit next to each other in a visually pleasing way. Some Graffiti artists select their names that are plays on common expressions, such as 2Shae, Page3, 2Cold, In1 and other such names.