PHOTO GALLERY -- Graffiti
Graffiti is a common occurrence in most large urban areas, especially poorer ones, and is viewed as visual pollution and a major nuisance by most members of the general public, who are left with the cost and work of removing it. Though some of the small groups (called crews) involved in creating graffiti are associated with gangs, most are not. Some isolated individuals are also involved in creating graffiti; many of them are art students. Graffiti runs along a continuum of elaborateness from a tag (simple signature) to a throw up (quickly drawn initials or a name, typically using one color for outline and another for fill, traditionally drawn with bubble letters but now often done in other styles) to a piece (a graffiti painting that takes a lot of time and effort to create and usually has a minimum of 3 colors). The term piece is short for "masterpiece". Graffiti artists commonly refer to themselves as writers. Inexperienced writers, especially those lacking skill, are referred to as toys. For a study of the graffiti subculture in New York City, see the book Graffiti Lives by sociologist Gregory J. Snyder.