Christmas Calligraphy 2: Graffiti Tiles

The great variety of Letter Arts

By Pam Kessler

graffiti-tiles-3Calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing, is rich and varied in form and tradition.

Historically there were over a hundred scripts but today the italic and copperplate hands seem to be the most widely used, recognised, and appreciated forms of calligraphy.

The term Letter Arts is now accepted as an expression that encompasses modern freeform lettering and mark making, where the rules of the old scripts no longer apply, and artists push the boundaries of the known and accepted.

With freeform lettering any sort of implement can be used to make a mark, whether it be a brush, pen, or stick. Of course good design, use of colour, balance and form, all remain as relevant as ever.

Graffiti: a branch of freeform lettering

Graffiti comes under the heading of freeform lettering and recently I decided to try it. With no experience of graffiti, other than seeing it from a train window, I naturally turned to Google.

I found an amazing world of skill and design and got hugely inspired and, of course, this led me into thinking about making a calligraphy gift using graffiti.

If you would like to make graffiti tiles for Christmas gifts, the directions can be found below.

Making Graffiti Tiles for gifts

graffiti-tiles-1Materials Needed:

  • Paper
  • Felt pens, crayons or water soluble oil pastels
  • Porcelain paints: colours I used – black #42, turquoise #20, yellow #02, ruby red #07.

(Suppliers: Pebeo Porcelaine 150 paints, 45mls – I purchased mine from Gordon Harris Art Supplies, Wellington. $7.19 each online at www.gordonharrisartsupplies )

  • Glazed ceramic tiles – I purchased mine at Mitre 10 – plain gloss white tiles are available in a variety of sizes – 150×150 @ 50c each, 100×300 @ $1.14 each.


  1. graffiti-tiles-2Google search: Do a Google search on graffiti. Select a design you like.
  2. Black felt pen: Using the black felt pen, on paper, draw a rough sketch of the shape of a single letter in the graffiti design of your choice. Work quickly letting your lines move freely. Remember there are no rules; you can make your design anyway you want it to be.
  3. Practice: Do several more designs of different single letters on separate pieces of paper.
  4. Colour: Add colour to your designs with the felt pens or water-soluble oil pastels.
  5. Choose a name: Decide whose name you would like to put on a graffiti tile. Design the name on paper. Colour your design. Do several designs and then choose the best.
  6. Copy: Copy or trace your most successful designs onto tiles.
  7. Tiles: It is most effective to use a square shaped tile for a single letter and a rectangular shaped tile for a name. The porcelain paints show up well on white or cream coloured tiles.
  8. Porcelain paints: I chose black and three colours. I then mixed the colours to make more.
  9. Outline: I drew my K onto the ceramic tile with a black felt pen and then filled in the colour with the paints, go over the black felt pen with the black paint to complete the design. Let the tile air dry to a hard smooth surface.

 Congratulations! Your Graffiti Tiles are ready for giving.

Merry Christmas wishes, Pam.