The Best 14 Street Art & Graffiti Books to Start Your Collection

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Along with the birth of spray paint, graffiti also saw the light in the 1970s. As expected, the first uses of this medium were name-tagging and more elaborated artworks on walls, sidewalks, boxcars, and anything else you can imagine. Graffiti quickly gained popularity among other artists who wished to openly express their feelings and, in essence, paint their own stories for others to understand. Compared to graffiti’s first uses began many years ago, it now encompasses a much wider range of creative forms and expressions.

In this article, we’ve curated a diverse selection of 14 graffiti-related books filled with inspirational art pieces and talented artists who deserve to be recognized for their powerful works of art and expressiveness.

Without further ado, here are the top 3 of the 14 best graffiti books you need in your collection!

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Do you want to learn more about these graffiti books? Let’s get into each of them!

1. Subway Art

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Subway Art
  • Chalfant, Henry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 01/11/2016 (Publication Date) - Thames & Hudson (Publisher)

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Author(s): Henry Chalfant & Martha Cooper
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Subway Art is a groundbreaking book that shared graffiti to the world. It is detailed and packed with quality information, from process photos of sketches to train cars, fat to skinny caps, and maneuvering around train yards letting us see and hear from the graffiti artists themselves. It was in such high demand not only because it is a tangible piece of New York culture but hip-hop culture, graffiti being the first element, in its purest form. The book stated the presence of graffiti as an art form. After 30 years, the book has been updated with 70 unseen photographs not included in the original edition. Lastly, new insights into an incredibly rich period for urban art and its legacy has been added.

Click here to buy Subway Art on Amazon.

2. Graffiti World

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Graffiti World: Street Art from Five Continents
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ganz, Nicholas; Manco, Tristan (editor) (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 373 Pages - 03/02/2024 (Publication Date) - Harry N Abrams Inc (Publisher)

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Author(s): Nicholas Ganz
Publisher: Harry N Abrams Inc.

Graffiti World is a collection that delves into the fascinating world of street art. Through its pages, readers are taken on a journey across the globe to explore the colorful and diverse world of graffiti. Ganz, a renowned graffiti artist himself, comments on the origins, evolution, and significance of this artistic movement. The book shows stunning photographs of graffiti masterpieces, capturing the vibrant energy and spirit of this subculture. Ganz’s comprehensive research and personal experiences make this book an essential guide for anyone interested in understanding the complex and dynamic world of street art.

Click here to buy Graffiti World on Amazon.

3. The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti

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The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti
  • Hardcover Book
  • Schacter, Rafael (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 400 Pages - 09/03/2013 (Publication Date) - Yale University Press (Publisher)

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Author(s): Rafael Schacter
Publisher: Yale University Press

The World Atlas of Street Art and Graffiti explores the global street art and graffiti scene. It showcases breathtaking pieces from around the world while focusing on the world’s most influential urban artists and works. Additionally, it features specially commissioned works from major artists and offers an insider’s view of the urban landscape as the artists themselves experience it.

The book strives to document, organise, and illustrate the breadth and wealth of street art in the world. It also strives to educate the reader by showing that these artists are not just taggers. It proves that their work is more than urban distraction because it has meaning, it is layered, and it has value.

Click here to buy The World Atlas of Street Art & Graffiti on Amazon.

4. Graffiti School

Graffiti School: A Student Guide and Teacher Manual
  • Ganter, Christoph (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 10/21/2013 (Publication Date) - Thames & Hudson (Publisher)

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Author(s): Christopher Ganter
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Graffiti School delivers a generous amount of knowledge on the – often stigmatised – art form of graffiti. It starts with a brief background of the art form and then it addresses the issue of legality by outlining the parameters of where readers can practice the graffiti art form without making authorities go mad.

Oh, and if you’re a teacher, then this book is also great for you; it includes some interesting sample exercises for using in the classroom. This book is great for middle school and high school art classes, especially in urban areas.

Click here to buy Graffiti School on Amazon.

5. Wall and Piece

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Wall and Piece
  • Used Book in Good Condition
  • Hardcover Book
  • Banksy (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 04/01/2006 (Publication Date) - Random House UK (Publisher)

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Author(s): Banksy
Publisher: Century

When you dive into the pages of Wall and Piece, it’s like being transported to a world of whimsy and wit, where street art meets social commentary in a way that is both playful and profound. What sets Banksy apart is not just his artistic skill, but his ability to use his art as a platform for social commentary. Through his stencils and murals, he shines a light on issues such as capitalism, consumerism, and the war on terror, forcing us to confront uncomfortable truths about our society. Whether you’re a die-hard Banksy fan or a newcomer to the world of street art, “Wall and Piece” is a must-read.

Click here to buy Wall and Piece on Amazon.

6. Graffiti Alphabets

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Graffiti Alphabets: Street Fonts from Around the World
  • Walde, Claudia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 05/15/2018 (Publication Date) - Thames & Hudson (Publisher)

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Author(s): Claudia Walde
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Graffiti Alphabets is a stunning exploration of the diverse and ever-evolving world of urban lettering. Without a doubt, this is a smart source of inspiration for anyone interested in the art of graffiti, showcasing a vast array of styles, techniques, and approaches to creating letter-based street art. This collection features over 150 full-color illustrations of graffiti alphabets, each one a unique work of art in its own right. It also comes with interviews with some of the world’s most renowned graffiti artists, providing valuable insights into their creative process, influences, and philosophies. With this book as a guide, readers could learn from the best and take their lettering skills to the next level!

Click here to buy Graffiti Alphabets on Amazon.

7. From the Platform

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From the Platform: Subway Graffiti, 1983-1989
  • Hardcover Book
  • Cavalieri, Paul (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 05/11/2011 (Publication Date) - Schiffer (Publisher)

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Author(s): Paul Cavalieri
Publisher: Schiffer

This book captures the essence of the graffiti art scene in New York City during the 1980s. From the Platform takes readers on a journey through the underground world of subway graffiti, showcasing some of the most iconic and groundbreaking pieces of art that graced the city’s trains during this time. It features hundreds of full-color photographs that capture the vibrant and dynamic nature of subway graffiti. It’s also a thoughtful and insightful exploration of a subculture that has had a genuine impact on the world of art and culture as a whole.

Click here to buy From the Platform on Amazon.

8. Covert to Overt

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Covert to Overt: The Under/Overground Art of Shepard Fairey
  • Signed
  • Hardcover Book
  • Fairey, Shepard (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 256 Pages - 09/29/2015 (Publication Date) - Rizzoli (Publisher)

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Author(s): Shepard Fairey
Publisher: Rizzoli

Easily defined as a captivating exploration of the artist’s journey, from street art provocateur to globally recognised cultural icon. The book offers an intimate look at Fairy’s life and work, revealing the influences, experiences, and creative processes that have shaped his art and activism over the years. Through a combination of stunning visuals and insightful commentary, this book showcases Fairey’s eclectic body of work, covering his early guerrilla art campaigns to his iconic Obama “Hope” poster and beyond. Covert to Overt is also a call to action, urging readers to embrace their creativity and use their voices towards a better world.

Click here to buy Covert to Overt on Amazon.

9. Spraycan Art

Spraycan Art (Street Graphics / Street Art)
  • Chalfant, Henry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 08/17/1987 (Publication Date) - Thames & Hudson (Publisher)

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Author(s): Henry Chalfant & James Prigoff
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Spraycan Art is a groundbreaking book that changed the way people think about graffiti art. The book is a visual feast of diverse styles binded by the complexity of graffiti art from around the world. With its striking photographs of murals, tags, and other forms of street art, this book captures the raw energy and creativity of a cultural movement which was often being stigmatised and misunderstood. It delves deep into the history, techniques, and social and cultural significance of graffiti art; a must-read that will inspire and enlighten you.

Click here to buy Spraycan Art on Amazon.

10. Training Days: The Subway Artists Then and Now

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Training Days: The Subway Artists Then and Now
  • Hardcover Book
  • Chalfant, Henry (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 176 Pages - 10/14/2014 (Publication Date) - Thames & Hudson (Publisher)

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Author(s): Henry Chalfant & Sacha Jenkins
Publisher: Thames & Hudson

Take a deep dive into the world of hip-hop culture and the evolution of graffiti art through the bold pages of Training Days. This book explores how hip-hop and graffiti art emerged as a form of creative expression for young people living in the inner city. Interviews with legendary artists and cultural figures illustrated with stunning photographs of iconic graffiti pieces, the book captures the energy and vibrancy of this dynamic cultural movement. A must-read for anyone interested in the history and impact of hip-hop and graffiti art on modern culture.

Click here to buy Training Days on Amazon.

11. Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents

Graffiti Women: Street Art from Five Continents
  • Hardcover Book
  • Nicholas Ganz (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 232 Pages - 11/01/2006 (Publication Date) - "Harry N. Abrams, Inc." (Publisher)

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Author(s): Nicholas Ganz
Publisher: Harry N Abrams Inc.

This a captivating and eye-opening book that showcases the often-ignored contributions of women to the world of graffiti art. Filled with stunning photographs and interviews from female graffiti artists from around the world, the book is a celebration of the creativity, skill, and courage of these trailblazing figures. Ganz provides insightful commentary on the challenges that women have faced in the male-dominated world of graffiti art, as well as the unique perspectives and styles they have brought to the art form. This book is a testament to the power of graffiti art to transcend gender and cultural boundaries.

Click here to buy Graffiti Women on Amazon.

12. Urban Art Legends

Urban Art Legends
  • Hardcover Book
  • KET (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 128 Pages - 02/01/2016 (Publication Date) - LOM Art (Publisher)

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Author(s): Alan Ket
Publisher: LOM Art

Urban Art Legends is a fascinating and comprehensive book tracing back the history and evolution of graffiti and street art over the past several decades. Through a combination of insightful commentary and stunning visuals, Ket provides a unique and intimate perspective on the key figures, movements, and trends that have shaped the global urban art scene. From the early days of subway graffiti in New York City to the rise of street art as a global phenomenon, this piece covers it all; highlighting the contributions of both well-known and lesser-known artists. Urban Art Legends is a must-read for anyone interested in the intersection of art, culture, and social change.

Click here to buy Urban Art Legends on Amazon.

13. Graffiti A New York

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Graffiti A New York
  • Hardcover Book
  • Nelli, Andrea (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 192 Pages - 08/01/2012 (Publication Date) - Wholetrain Press (Publisher)

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Author(s): Andrea Nelli
Publisher: Wholetrain Press

This brilliant book offers a unique perspective on the birth and evolution of graffiti art in the city that gave birth to the movement; New York. With stunning photographs and detailed analysis, its pages take readers on a journey through the streets of New York. Nelli provides a fascinating historical context for the emergence of graffiti in New York, tracing its roots back to the hip-hop culture of the 1970s and exploring the social and political conditions that helped foster its growth; highly recommended for those with a thing for visual content beyond what is shown.

Click here to buy Graffiti A New York on Amazon.

14. Born to Run: NYC Subway Graffiti on the IND and BMT Lines

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Born to Run: NYC Subway Graffiti on the IND and BMT Lines
  • Hardcover Book
  • Lange, Tod (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 208 Pages - 12/15/2018 (Publication Date) - Schiffer (Publisher)

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Author(s): Tod Lange
Publisher: Schiffer

Born to Run offers an intimate look at the early days of graffiti art on the New York City subway system. With stunning photographs and detailed analysis, Lange takes readers on a journey through the tunnels and train yards of the Independent Subway (IND) and Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit (BMT) lines; showcasing the bold and colourful works of legendary graffiti artists. This is a must-read for anyone interested in the history and impact of graffiti art on modern culture, and the unique place that New York City occupies in this story.

Click here to buy Born to Run on Amazon.

Final Words

These graffiti books share stories, techniques, and images which could help artists into learning new techniques, explore different styles, and gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and social significance of their work. By showcasing the creativity, skill, and diversity of graffiti art, these books also challenge stereotypes and highlight the positive contributions that such art can make to urban spaces and communities.