The word graffiti simply means--words or drawings scratched or scribbled on a wall. The word comes from the Greek term "graphein" (to write) and the word "grafitti" itself is plural of the Italian word "graffito." Art in the form of graffiti (graffiti by style and considered so only if it appears on public or private property without permission) originated in the late 1960s, but graffiti in term of public and unsolicited markings has been around forever. Some say it represents man's desire and need for communication, and the history of this type of communication dates back to one of the first communicative acts--drawing. (Tucker par. 1-3).
It was in the late 1960s when "Julio 204" began writing his "tag" all around the city of New York. Soon following Julio came a Greek youth from Manhattan named Demitrius who tagged his own "Taki183" all over the city as well. Taki also focused on writing on the subway in New York. Even though what Julio 204 and Taki 183 did in New York eventually developed into what was called by some "New York Style" graffiti, these New York writers only popularized it. (Farell and Webb par., 3).
A tag is usually decorated with a variety of stylish marks. Although they may have style, they still lack an aspect of quality artwork--anyone can come up with and practice and put up a tag. But it is not really meant for artistic purposes--it basically indicates a writer's presence. The tag is one way that graffiti artists are similar to gang members, although gang graffiti doesn't usually evolve into anything very skillful, its purpose is to also, like for writers, indicate a presence (a gang presence) and also to mark around specific gang turf. Although lots of writers would not want to be compared to gangsters, the two groups do have several things in common: "both seek recognition from their peers, use aliases, take part in illegal activities, see themselves as noble outlaws and are young and most often poor.