We are talking old school characters, the supporter of the heraldic calligraphy. Graffiti artists draw on many sources from comic books, tattoos art and other illustrators. The reverse is also true and many artists working on the street create comic books, tattoos and other legitimate/paid artwork. The influence of comics and cartoons on traditional hip-hop aerosol art is clear with characters. Although the influences of other sci-fi or fantasy illustration artists cannot be ignored with hyperrealism and overdone shine marks.
Painting characters can be showing off the graffiti writer’s artistic chops or the work of a writer who specialises in characters.
Some graffiti writers, like Dabs and Myla, create their own characters.
Aside from comic book, other graffiti characters also show other pop culture influences from James Brown to Elvira. The art of movie and other billboard painting looked like it was about to disappear as printing technology improved and became cheaper. In Melbourne Adnate of the AWOL crew and Rone of the Everfresh crew have resurrected the billboard-sized portrait.
However, I must say that the idea of character design seems limited to me because a character without a world and story is nothing but image. An isolated character often appears meaningless, lost and stationary even if they are frenetic.
Once again, if I have failed to attribute a work or I have misattributed a work, please contact me and I will make a correction.