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For These Muralists, It Took 3 Years to Spell Out the Alphabet

Would you get an "S" tattooed on your arm just for the sake of completing an art project? These guys did.


Anybody who's not three sheets to the wind can write the alphabet in under a minute. For these Berlin-based muralists, it took three years to do so, as well as three cities and 26 different artistic techniques.

The legendary A-B-Cing was accomplished by street-art collective KLUB7, whose intricate chalk doodles look like the blackboard of a mad scientist on military-grade amphetamines. The artists shot on location in Berlin, Halle and New York, eventually winding up with 15,000 photos that they arranged into a time-lapse ode to graffiti (and to learning!).

To make their often giant-sized letters, KLUB7 used all the standard street techniques: spray paint, chalk, what could be construed as yarn bombing. They also pulled out a few from their toolbox that you might not've heard about, like a "digital spray can" from the Graffiti Research Lab and a Facade Printer that decorates buildings by shooting paintballs at them. Then there's the yellow crime tape, fire, a bunch of random furniture and (not to give too much away) a piece of body art that might have to be removed in the future with a laser.

Stick around for the credits, which show the techniques and location for each letter.

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.