Tagature, or Literary Graffiti

Project Published 10/5/12 Last updated on 5/16/18
As we entered the spring semester, I searched for the most meaningful way to help students review for standardized tests. How could students revisit texts in a way that was creative and personally fulfilling. I proposed to the class that we select sections of our previous reading and transform these quotes into graffiti-style tags, using Photoshop and Illustrator, and paint or post these tags each week on ten large panels hung in the school’s common areas. Each week for approximately one month, students selected quotes from the novels, historical texts and related articles studied in our integrated history and English class, and transformed them into graffiti-style tags. Each week, students brought new quotes to make into new tags, and they tagged the boards, or over and around each other’s work, modified the art, or responded to it creatively. The panels became living environments for literary graffiti, which we named “tagature.” Each week, the students photographed their work, edited the photos in Photoshop and archived them online in digital portfolios, along with written, reflective artists’ statements. After four rounds of “tagature,” students selected their favorite examples of literary graffiti, edited their artist statements and used, Lightroom, Photoshop and InDesign to create a coffee-table-styled art book of the class’ work, which was then sold in the community through a publishing company created by our class. What began as standardized test review led to a living project that spanned visual art, reflective writing, digital archiving and hard copy publishing.
1+ Month
Content Standards
Custom Standards


3.0 Literary Response & Analysis

Literary Criticism

3.7 Analyze recognized works of world literature from a variety of authors:

a. Contrast the major literary forms, techniques, and characteristics of the major literary periods (e.g., Homeric Greece, medieval, romantic, neoclassic, modern).

b. Relate literary works and authors to the major themes and issues of their eras.

c. Evaluate the philosophical, political, religious, ethical, and social influences of the historical period that shaped the characters, plots, and settings.

3.8 Analyze the clarity and consistency of political assumptions in a selection of literary works or essays on a topic (e.g., suffrage, women’s role in organized labor). (Political approach)

3.9 Analyze the philosophical arguments presented in literary works to determine whether the authors’ positions have contributed to the quality of each work and the credibility of the characters. (Philosophical approach)

Writing Application

2.2 Write responses to literature

2.3 Write reflective compositions

Communication and Collaboration, Creativity and Innovation, Technology Operations and Concepts, Critical Thinking Problem Solving and Decision Making

Wooden panels and mounting hardware (screws, anchors, screw driver, etc.)

Paints, glue, rollers, brushes

Computer & printer

5 / 5 • 25 Ratings

Resources (3)

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Comments (29)

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Dhanaraj Keezhara

Posted on 3/26/15 11:58:03 PM Permalink

Great project! Thanks for sharing this. Absolutely wonderful resources!

Anita Bhatty

Posted on 3/26/15 10:15:53 PM Permalink

Brilliant idea! Perhaps I can tweak it to elementary level and create a lesson to reach their level of understanding.

Sandra Hodges

Posted on 2/22/15 2:21:33 AM Permalink

Wonderful idea! I am going to look at this carefully for the next month+ at school. I know my principal will love this idea!

Vickey Bolling-Witt

Posted on 1/21/15 12:04:41 AM Permalink

I am very impressed with how you tied together words and images. One of the best ways to give words meaning is to associated image with them. And you did this. When the students have to recall the information, the image will help trigger the information. My son is dyslexic, and I homeschooled him for a while. I teach at a college in the graphic design and illustration program, and it seems that my life is an educator has been surrounded by helping those tie of visual image what it is it trying to say. My hat goes off to you on such an endeavor.

Alisha Crawford

Posted on 10/26/14 9:15:11 PM Permalink

Very interesting and artistic resource

Heather Smith

Posted on 10/3/14 9:03:43 PM Permalink

What great creativity and imagination used.

Ceallaigh Norman

Posted on 8/16/14 10:51:54 PM Permalink

Great for all curriculum areas. Thank you.

uma ravi

Posted on 7/15/14 4:50:57 PM Permalink

A wonderful resource .Thanks for sharing this.

Laurie Myers

Posted on 7/14/14 6:12:27 PM Permalink

Absolutely wonderful resources! Thank you for making these available!

Laurie Myers

Posted on 7/14/14 6:11:12 PM Permalink

Absolutely wonderful resources! Thank you for making these available!

Bhuvana Sriram

Posted on 7/14/14 4:28:58 PM Permalink

Great work! Thanks for sharing this.

Lourdes Fuller

Posted on 7/13/14 11:52:05 PM Permalink

I really love the way everything is integrated. Thank you :)


Posted on 7/3/14 10:31:39 PM Permalink

This is an excellent hands-on, brains-on project for all those kids who are tempted to do illegal graffiti. With so many young artists we have today, the art should be included in all the subjects at schools. It's time to let the children express themselves with the guide of brilliant teachers that care. I love this project. For anyone to be able to manage a project like this, it's a matter of "investing the time" to set the groundwork and mentor students to explore, understand, synthesize and create.

JoAnn Clemens

Posted on 10/9/13 1:13:27 PM Permalink

Thank you for this creative resource.

Deb Joseph

Posted on 9/2/13 10:23:20 PM Permalink

This is terrific. A really meaningful way to dig deeper into various topics. Thank you for sharing.


Posted on 8/20/13 2:44:44 AM Permalink

Congratulation! Good idea!

Star Mitrani

Posted on 8/12/13 4:47:01 AM Permalink

Thanks for sharing such creative and useful ideas!

Eric Dumas

Posted on 8/5/13 4:35:06 PM Permalink

Simply amazing! It ads meaning to learning, the engagement must have been very rewarding for you.

Colleen Velasquez

Posted on 8/5/13 1:51:33 AM Permalink

Thank you so much, this is a great idea!

Randy Scherer

Posted on 11/13/12 3:27:38 AM Permalink

Thank you very much for the congrats, and thank you very much for the honor!

I had a lot of help from others in developing this project. If you think your students might like something like this, please take it, use it, make it better.

Again, thank you, Adobe community!


Michael Cole

Posted on 11/12/12 6:01:34 PM Permalink

Congratulations Randy...

Kris Fontes

Posted on 11/12/12 5:24:52 PM Permalink

Congratulations from last year's winner to this year's winner!!!

Matt Cauthron

Posted on 11/12/12 5:14:49 PM Permalink


Nicole Dalesio

Posted on 10/29/12 11:17:12 PM Permalink

Great project! I love how you are making the learning something so much more meaningful than just taking a test. You are also making it into something that requires such creativity. Thanks for sharing!

Randy Scherer

Posted on 10/26/12 6:13:40 AM Permalink

Thanks for the invite—we will definitely check it out.

I am also happy to report that the physical panels from this project were recently selected by a theater company in downtown SD to be used as set elements in a professional theater production about street art.

Thanks for the support for this project—we really appreciate it!

Matt Cauthron

Posted on 10/22/12 8:40:03 PM Permalink

Randy, Thanks for sharing those links. Didn't realize off the bat you were at HTH. I visited there with a team a handful of years ago and do remember seeing some impressive layout work posted up on the glass walls... geussing those were from your students. Great job!

Would be great if you guys could join us in the Student Creative challenge this year. We have our past three projects on Blurb as well.

Randy Scherer

Posted on 10/22/12 7:20:52 PM Permalink


Thanks for the ratings. We did in fact use blurb to publish our book, and others. I need to share the link here—it's already on my digitial portfolio. To see this book, and many others from my students, please visit



Matt Cauthron

Posted on 10/22/12 3:54:23 PM Permalink

Very cool! Would love to see more student examples. Have you considered uploading and sharing the book via sites like or Blurb?

Kris Fontes

Posted on 10/22/12 2:42:13 PM Permalink

Wish I still lived in San Diego so that I could visit your classroom! Thanks for the link to the google site.