> Street Art

Dale Roberts of Write Insights scrutinized how some Chicago graffiti writers dot their Is and cross their Ts—and what the penmanship might say about the mysterious people behind the tags.


“Anytime someone adds embellishment, like curlicues on the F here, it’s for the sake of vanity. The writer is looking for affirmation.”

“The larger the writing, the more the writer is an extrovert. This is written in all caps. They want to be noticed.”

“A line under a signature speaks to a desire for recognition, to be seen as someone important.”

oh shit!

“The O and the H run into each other. When letters are crowded, usually that person doesn’t have a great sense of social boundaries. They’re in your face.”

“A clean, single stroke for an I means this individual is an independent thinker. They also have a great dislike of clutter.”

“There are about 43 ways to cross a T, and when the T-bar slopes downward, it’s characteristic of a bossy person.”

Credit: Joshua Graff


“The arced T-bar is a conscientious, deliberate stroke typical of someone who wants to improve; if you point out a fault, they will try to correct it.”

“The E corresponds to the ear: when the E is open, like it is here, the writer is observational, very attuned to things around them.”

“The script has a back slant, which comes from a person who is cautious. They don’t do anything without first asking, What’s in this for me?”

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