Blog Your Blessings: Sharpies

I have a longstanding love for graffiti in all its permutations--tag, piece, production, carving on a tree, you name it. Writers who have practiced their tags until they can spray or draw the lines with complexity, confidence, and clarity thrill my heart. They are reminding us that letters are beautiful. Letters become words that can become messages that can become poems and prayers and very beautiful things.

Graffiti writers like to play with the shape of letters, the intersection of each character with the other, and the space on which they're drawn. They also become embarrassed and annoyed if you wax too lyrical about an art they think of as their own form of rebellion and vandalism. You're allowed to look, but that doesn't mean you're allowed in. There's an acceptable level of vulnerability even here. That's the human drama for you.

I drag my daughter along to check out the graffiti around these parts. Sometimes she takes pictures, other times she wishes she remembered her camera so she could take pictures.

The walls of New Haven, Connecticut, excited her imagination so much this summer that she broke out the Sharpies and a black book and worked on her tag, Jelly. These were drawn letters--this was illustration, not mere penmanship. She chose the tag because she said she likes the loops in all the letters. That didn't stop her from working on a printed version with straight lines and angles, though, but that's art for you.

She showed her grandparents her tag. My dad said, "Well, if you're Jelly, I'm Jam." So she sat down with her Sharpie pens and Jam was born in the two-dimensional world of the black book. Grandma, we had decided, must be Seeds because the difference between Jelly and Jam is the seeds. Seeds was born in that moment.

Because Grandma and Grandpa encouraged her to draw the letters, she drew them big and bright and outlined in silver and every way she could think of. The colors were brilliant.
If she had been weaving baskets or rolling bandages, my parents would have encouraged her, and we'd be supplied with those. As it was, she was writing graffiti. She was using the tools of the trade. With her Sharpies, she made a gift from her heart to her grandparents'. That's love for you. And that's graffiti.

Sharpies draw the line that connects you and me and the next guy. It's a very thin line. Amazing things unfold when we accept each other for who we are and where we are.


  1. Oh, that thin line! Those thin lines that draw together to form snapshots, pictures, epic murals. Life is a blank canvas without those Sharpie lines! Thank you for reminding us.

  2. Another terrific, and thoughtful post. Thank you Sandy, and have a wonderful Sunday!:)

  3. Anonymous9:28 AM

    The Irish developed this way past graffiti. Their illuminated calligraphy still speak to our hearts. Perhaps you would like to share some of these treasures with her. Imagine what she will do then!

    Have a blessed week, my friend.

  4. I agree about the connection... but the concept that the "world is a blank canvas" for taggers and graffiti I could never agree with... not everything "needs" to be drawn on. It's beauty stands "as is" without people marking it up, regardless of their intent. I have far more patience and take far more pleasure in inukshuk than a tag, I'm afraid, although one could argue they are one-in-the-same.

  5. Anonymous10:15 AM

    Yes, if only lines were let to live as they appear. All the more wonder to them. It's amzaing what one can do with a few crayons or markers or paint cans-especially when encouraged.

  6. unexpected sometimes how lines can connect us

    the encouragement shown to the little one is indeed heartwarming to us all :)

    ps. to those who haven't yet, click on the image to see the even better full-sized one!

  7. Sandy, as always, you made me look at a simple thing like a Sharpie (my desk is littered with the acid-free variety for marking CD's and DVD's) in a new way. And you made me see anew the beauty in something simple.

    That's why I have bestowed the Thoughtful Blogger Award on you. Stop by in a little while (still writing) and see!


  8. Anonymous3:48 PM

    Wonderful post Sandy.
    Not so many years ago they would go around painting over some of the murals etc that had been created calling it vandalism....but lot of it is of extremely good quality, and now in parts of the UK they encourage it which is far better and it does connect people in so many ways.
    So many otherwise bland buildings, tunnels, underpasses etc have found a new lease of life through these individuals and groups sharing their creativity.

  9. What an amazing post! Loved it! Happy BYB Sunday!

  10. Anonymous5:12 PM

    You always gives something special in your posts - something to think about - this was a great read too!

    Wishing you a great week ahead:-)

  11. Thanks for visiting my blog. I am curious to know about you, so here I am. I like you post on graffiti. The letters are bold and coloful. I think it is a good art if use creatively, but not to vandalize new freeways and hollow-block fences.


Post a Comment

Thanks for being here.