Arts & Entertainment

The Signature as Art


Lesson time 10:31 min

Your tag, your logo, or even your handwriting can be visual ways to express your identity. Learn about the evolution of Futura’s tag and how to see your signature as a work of art.

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Topics include: Developing Your Tag · Embellishing Your Tag · Stylize Your Alphabet


[THEME MUSIC] LEONARD HILTON MCGURR (VOICEOVER): The whole concept of developing your name and your alphabet and your style is probably the most important element of whatever identity you're going to run with. Used to be a stage name, pseudonym, alias. We call it your tag. If you live in a bigger city, you're going to see it all the time. And there's so many levels of it. There's very crude. There are throw-ups, what-- they're called throwies or something, just very simple graffiti, a couple of letters joined together quickly, filled in. There's obviously more intense pieces. There's full-scale masterpieces. With a little skill and style, you can use your name, handwriting, your signature to let people know who you are. Interesting how technology took that word and ran with it but this is my first tag I created when I was 15. And it's actually 51-ish years ago, the Futura 2000. Very aspirational, kind of taking off, heading somewhere. I imagine it was the future. And when I came out of the military in the late '70s, the graffiti culture had evolved. And I don't even know how I got back into it. I was certainly old enough to have not. But when I came back in '78, I had this. I had the upgraded late '70s version, the Futura 2000, completely going in the opposite direction, slanting to the left. I think it was a question of the other one just simply took too long to do, honestly, and I needed a quicker answer. So this is what I was running with for a few years up until the early '80s. Somewhere in the very beginning of the '80s, when we started to surface, and right around the time of the break train, I timidly came up with this in the beginning of the '80s. And this would have been where I finally landed. I think I got everything right now. And funny that my name is Futura, which is also a typeface. Shout out to Paul Renner. A great typeface, but it's also a car in the '60s, the Futura car. It was a blender. It was a sewing machine. Name's not original. Nothing is. And then through the '80s, '90s, and '00s, I kind of got a little bit more flair. And I'm very happy with where he's at now, the modern, upgraded Futura signature. But that's a 50-year evolution, OK? So I was saying before about how things take time. Young people are impatient. Nothing happens overnight. I don't think I would have ever considered this to be even possible back when version V1 happened. But even still, honestly, that's pretty cool for a 15-year-old kid 50 years ago, even if I don't know the guy. But I would like to show you this just to wrap up the tag and identity portion. So this is a 3D print. I've been into this now. I'm 3D printing. I don't have to sign anything. I can simply tell my robot to do it. But this is actually pretty cool and not just is the-- that whole green nice, but, yeah, just amazing. I guess this might take-- what'd that take me, 5 seconds? This might take three hours, but very i...

About the Instructor

A pioneering painter and street artist, Futura has exhibited at institutions like the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Supreme, and created album art for The Clash. Now he’s teaching you his signature, kinetic approach to abstract art. Learn how to express yourself and paint with color, dimension, and detail. All you need to create art is an idea and a can of spray paint.

Featured Masterclass Instructor


Pioneering abstract graffiti artist, Futura teaches you how to create art with a can of spray paint and an idea.

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