4 Graffiti type and symbols

Students will investigate how symbols and codes are used by communities as information systems.

They will create type forms and symbols that serve as a contemporary form of graphic expression and communication. Students will design for personal objects such as skateboards and mobile phones.


  • 5.4 investigates and responds to the world as a source of ideas, concepts and subject matter for visual design artworks.
  • 5.5 makes informed choices to develop and extend concepts and different meanings in their visual design artworks.
  • 5.6 selects appropriate procedures and techniques to make and refine visual design artworks.
  • 5.8 uses their understanding of the function of and relationships between artist - artwork - world - audience in critical and historical interpretations of visual design artworks.


2-3 weeks.

Driving question

Is Graffiti a legitimate form of Art and Typography?


Students will design a series of works based on appropriated traditional typography and reinvent as an identity influenced by the study of varied subcultures.

Focus areas

  • Shape, colour, form and layout
  • Historical and postmodern frames
  • Design, design world and audience.
  • Information and communication technology
  • Work, Employment and Enterprise
  • Multicultural
  • Numeracy
  • Literacy.


All activities require students to demonstrate their learning and are all assessment for learning activities.

Teaching and learning activities

Students will:

  1. through a class discussion explore the questions:
    1. What is a sub-culture?
    2. Why are the appearances and fashions of a sub-culture so important?
  2. make a list of sub-cultures in their process diaries/blog. For example, surfies, soccer fans, goths, punks, hip hop etc.
  3. work through the Graffiti type and symbols PowerPoint (PPTX 5.45 MB) as a class, completing the exercises below:
    1. slide four answer questions 1 and 2 in their visual design journal or blog
    2. slide five answer questions 1 and 2 in their visual design journal or blog
  4. answer in their progress diary/blog:
    1. what influences do sub-cultures have on the mainstream?
    2. compare and contrast hobo glyphs and graffiti culture through a Venn diagram.

Materials required

  • MDF board, cardboard or skateboard design template - hard and soft copy
  • access to paint, coloured pencils and felt tip makers
  • mobile phones, video cameras or laptops.

Skateboard design

Students will:

  1. watch the videos
    1. How to: Create custom skateboard graphics (01:45)
    2. Painting on a skate deck for Waffurusoru(03:08)
  2. choose a word as an 'identity'
  3. write the word in the font they developed in the ligatures sequence
  4. develop the word into a graffiti-looking street design
  5. transfer the designs on an MDF board cut in the shape of a skateboard deck
  6. paint the design
  7. exhibit.

Symbols and video

Students will:

  • create a short video using their phones about 'A day in the life of a Hobo'. Play and discuss as a class.

Students will complete a digital blog or visual design journal documenting the ideas and processes used throughout this sequence. This can be completed through one-note, Class Notebook or Google classroom.

The blog or visual design journal should contain:

  • the process and technical skills used in practical classes
  • personal reflections about the practical activities
  • information gained through investigations or class discussions
  • answers to questions asked in class
  • a glossary of new words and terminology with graphic examples
  • and thoughts of the different techniques and types explored.



Teachers are encouraged to provide students with acceleration activities if required.

Students could:

  • create a brand poster by adding text and a company slogan
  • develop an advertising campaign for a skateboard company
  • using photoshop only, design 3 different skateboard decks using the layer technique. A png template (PNG 543.47 KB) for photoshop has been provided. For help with layers go the Adobe About photoshop layers website.
  • write a blog post addressing the driving question.

Life skills


  • LS 1 experiences a variety of visual design procedures to make visual design artworks.
  • LS 4 explores ways in which experiences of the world can be communicated in visual design artworks.
  • LS 6 makes a variety of visual design artworks that reflect experiences, responses or a point of view.
  • LS 7 explores a variety of subject matter that can be represented in visual design artworks.

Students could:

  • draw their names in block letters onto the skateboard deck template or wood
  • with paint, colour the letters
  • outline in black and add lighting bolts or other symbols to the design
  • discuss why they used the colours and symbols used in their design.


Formative assessment can be used to determine learning progress throughout the lesson sequences. Teachers should informally assess a student's level of understanding and adapt accordingly.

This sequence and accompanying worksheets are available as word documents below.


Please note:

Syllabus outcomes and content descriptors from Visual Design 7–10 Syllabus (2004) © NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) for and on behalf of the Crown in right of the State of New South Wales, 2017.

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