I was tasked with creating a large array of realistic graffiti for a video game that takes place in a broken & conquered America of the near future. We needed every type of graffiti, hundreds of tags, pieces, throwies, stencils & stickers, each object had to be isolated with no background so they could be combined into endless combinations. Resolution was very limited & we needed to display all of this artwork with very little memory. Oh yeah & we needed to have it all done, photographed, scanned & processed in 28 days.
The designers at Kaos studios were particularly concerned with quick scrawls & tags. They wanted to have a lot of graffiti that looked like it were done by regular people as opposed to graffiti artists. At the same time they wanted a generous helping of the graffiti & street art art that we all know & love, tons of gang related graffiti & some anti-occupation propaganda to top it off. We needed to created the appearance that this graffiti had been building up for years if not decades. We needed to create this array of tags, pieces, throwies etc. & compile them in a manner that could be used throughout the game without becoming repetitive.
With a short timeline & large quantity I enlisted some help from other FTA writers to contribute tags & help ensure that we would have lots & lots of different styles. I also brought in my cousin, a street artist who goes by the name “Elle” to contribute to the stencils & street art / propaganda.
The graffiti had to fit the game fiction which was very involved & very interesting to read. The world that this graffiti would inhabit was one where America had been conquered by a communist Asian power. After world conflict over the last drops of oil America was left weak & vulnerable. The communists attack with an emp & invade. Americans are destitute & oppressed. There is little remaining infrastructure, most have no power, water & other simple services. With the worlds oil supply used up this future world of 2036 is like the 1800s for a lot of people. Our society is living off the remaining technology & resources of better days. Under this long emergency a resistance forms. The graffiti art that we provided was meant to reflect not only mayhem, depression and the decay of society but also resistance and patriotism.
One of the reasons for all the graffiti art & street art in this game was to help convey the feeling that this was happening in America. Modern graffiti is an American invention & present everywhere in America. I figured that the best way to conceptualize the various, names, phrases, protests, gang names, crew names etc. that would exist in this environment would be to create our own fictional graffiti writers, street gangs, crews & movements & to write what they would write. We gave our writers names that we thought were appropriate like “Revolt” & “Futile”. To be as realistic as possible I decided that our street gangs would be dominated by the larger gangs of today having combined & called truces amongst themselves. Bloods & Crips are allies, the Chicano factions have united etc.. The graffiti attributed to our gangs is a lot like what we see today & its there for the same reasons, to proclaim their presence and to claim territory.
I could have worked on this job forever. It was a lot of fun. In the end we created & delivered about 220 tags & written phrases, 50+ stencils, a couple dozen throw-ups & stamps, 8 simple pieces & characters. about 10 stickers & other pieces of street art. We did everything for real. We cut & painted the stencils, painted the pieces at full size, did all the tags on walls with spray paint and markers. We photographed & scanned everything & extracted every item. When the game was finally released we were even able to see a little bit of our work in the TV commercial.