A type of graffiti characterised by large size, bright colours, and detail

Pieces are a type of graffiti. Their name is short for "masterpieces". Pieces are a big and very detailed type of graffiti made with letters.

picture of a graffiti piece done using the letters EKOM. the E, K, and M and purple and pink. The O is a yellow smiley face.
A piece using the letters EKOM

They are one of the main types of modern graffiti, along with tags and throw ups. People who usually don't like graffiti are less likely to dislike pieces[1] and people are less likely to call them vandalism.[2]

Because they are so large, pieces are usually made with spray paint, but people also use paint rollers.[1]

Pieces are usually big, and have many different colours. They often have a background, and different shades.[3] They sometimes have extra bits on to make them look nice, and are sometimes made to look 3D[3] or have cartoons on or next to them.[4]

Wildstyle graffiti in Australia done on a legal wall

Because they are big and have a lot of detail, pieces take a long time to paint and design.[5] This means pieces are more likley to be in places where it is legal to paint them.[6] Illegal pieces are usually in places where there aren't many people, like train yards, tunnels, drains, the top of a building, or walls facing train tracks.[5] Illegal pieces in busy places might be done over more than one night,[7] or by many people at the same time.[8]

It can be hard for many people to tell what letters are in some pieces.[3] Straight-letters are a type of piece with letters that are clear and easy to read, and wildstyle pieces have letters with unusual shapes and extra bits attatched, which can make them very hard to read. Some writers like that wildstyle is hard to read because it means only other writers can read them.[9] Sometimes when a writer wants people to know they made the piece, they will write their Tag and their crews tag next to it.[8]



People first notices pieces in the 1980s on trains in the New York Subway, but the metro decided not to send painted trains out because they didn't want people to write on the trains anymore. This made writers go and write in other places isntead of the trains.[10]

People are more likely to call pieces "art". Since the later 2000s, sometimes business with pay people to do pieces that advertise them[7] and local governments will pay people do do pieces in places they don't want other less popular types of graffiti, like tags. This works because most graffiti writers don't write over another writers piece.[11][12]


  1. 1.0 1.1 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.
  2. Novak, D (2014-01-01). "Methodology for the measurement of graffiti art works: Focus on the piece". World Applied Sciences Journal. 32 (1): 40–46 – via Research Gate.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Gottlieb, Lisa (2014-01-10). Graffiti Art Styles: A Classification System and Theoretical Analysis. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-5225-5.
  4. Mansfield, Michelle (2021-09-23), "Collective Individualism: Practices of Youth Collectivity within a Graffiti Community in Yogyakarta, Indonesia", Forms of Collective Engagement in Youth Transitions, Brill, pp. 115–138, ISBN 978-90-04-46634-0, retrieved 2023-08-28
  5. 5.0 5.1 Docuyanan, Faye (2000). "Governing Graffiti in Contested Urban Spaces". PoLAR: Political and Legal Anthropology Review. 23: 103–121. doi:10.1525/pol.2000.23.1.103.
  6. Snyder, Gregory (2016). "Long Live the Tag: Representing the Foundations of Graffiti". In Tsilimpoinidi, M; Avramidis, K (eds.). Graffiti and Street Art: Reading, Writing and Representing the City. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-12505-1.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ross, Jeffrey Ian (2016-03-02). Routledge Handbook of Graffiti and Street Art. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-317-64586-3.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Ferrell, Jeff (1996). "Freight Train Graffiti: Subculture, Media, Dislocation". In Ferrell, Jeff; Websdale, Neil (eds.). Making Trouble. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9780203786628. ISBN 978-0-203-78662-8. Retrieved 2023-08-29.
  9. Gopinath, Gabrielle (2015). "Ornament as Armament: Playing Defense in Wildstyle Graffiti". In Lovata, Troy R.; Olton, Elizabeth (eds.). Understanding Graffiti. Routledge. doi:10.4324/9781315416137. ISBN 978-1-315-41613-7. Retrieved 2023-08-28.
  10. Snyder, Gregory J. (2006-04-01). "Graffiti media and the perpetuation of an illegal subculture". Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal. 2 (1): 93–101. doi:10.1177/1741659006061716. ISSN 1741-6590. S2CID 144911784.
  11. Dovey, Kim; Wollan, Simon; Woodcock, Ian (2012-02-02). "Placing Graffiti: Creating and Contesting Character in Inner-city Melbourne". Journal of Urban Design. 17 (1): 21–41. doi:10.1080/13574809.2011.646248. hdl:11343/230654. ISSN 1357-4809. S2CID 110689365 – via Taylor & Francis Online.
  12. "Why Don't Murals Get Covered By Graffiti in the Mission?". KQED. 2015-05-19. Retrieved 2023-09-04.