Thursday, September 3, 2009

National Bestseller

National Bestseller is an ongoing project in collaboration with the outdoor advertising companies operating NYC phone kiosks, including VanWagner, and Titan Media. This recent image was put up on Broadway between Boerum and Union avenue in Brooklyn. Each piece is made up of one entire booked striped of its spine and pasted back together. Every 10th piece gets a treatment in red. Often attacking illegal advertiement in NYC, this project confronts legal ads on the street in an effort to express my interest in an advertisement free public space.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Frequent Reader Questions

I just received this email and wanted wish the person who sent it luck. This is what PublicAdCampaign is ultimately about for me. Promoting and facilitating the public's interest and involvement in their public space. Though this happens through the use of outdoor advertising venues and frames, it is about enjoying the act of creation in our shared public spaces.
Hi Jordan, I am a frequent reader of public access campaign, and enjoy reading your posts

i recently watched your video about replacing the ads on the sides of phone booths, and am interested in trying it myself

i have a cordless drill, and am buying an tamper-proof bit set.

i have 2 questions,

1: do you know the size the ads are (for the sides), or should I just open one up myself and measure it to be sure

2: have you ever been arrested doing this? im trying to gauge the likelihood of this you think its smarter to do it in the dark, total stealth mode, or be in clear daylight posing as a van wagner should only take like 30 seconds from start to finish im hoping...i plan on doing this around the east village...
have you ever had any trouble with undercover officers or people on the street getting pissed and confronting you?

thanks for your help man,

This is My Responses:
Fantastic! You should absolutely try it yourself. It is a wonderful way to spend an evening or afternoon becoming a more integral part of your city fabric. Please send me the results and I will post them immediately.

Answer 1:
The ads on the sides of NYC phone kiosks are 26'x50'. The ads on the back come in a few sizes depending on the type of kiosk they are in and should be measured accordingly. You can measure these without opening the kiosk, just add 1 inch to the length and height of the inside frame measurement.

Answer 2:
a) I have never been arrested doing advertising takeovers on the street. This does not mean it cannot, or will not happen. As you may or may not know, 4 people were arrested in the recent NYSAT project, although this was under special circumstances. When I have been stopped by NYPD, I have had to make an appearance before a judge. This appearance, all three times it has taken place, has resulted in 6 months of probation. Provided you are not caught committing similar acts within this 6 month period (which usually starts the day you were actually caught), your record is wiped clean.

b) The night or day question for me depends on one thing and that is whether or not the phone kiosk you are going to takeover is illuminated. You can obviously tell this easily at night, but if you are curious if a booth is illuminated during the day, simply cup your hands around your eyes and hold them tight to the kiosk. You will see the backliting this way, as the lights are not turned off or are on any sensor. If the booth is illuminated I would do your takeover during the day. Van Wagner and others do not, to my knowledge, replace ads during the night and an open illuminated kiosk is like a lighthouse, it can be seen for blocks. I have seen employees changing kiosk ads with and without safety vests so that choice is up to you. Provided the phonekiok is not illuminated, I would do things late at night.

c) Two of the Three times I have been stopped it was by undercover officers. Generally, people will pay little attention to what you are doing, unless you are removing a popular upcoming movie poster, in which case someone will probably ask you if they can have it.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Friday, February 6, 2009

Newest Winter Weave Phonebooth Install

Instead of taking a still of this one I thought I would shoot a little video so you could see the weave and the piece in it's environment. Black yellow and purple are my new favorite colors now that a regular commenter declared them the colors of fag. Real classy buddy.

Labels: , , , ,

Winter Weave Easter Video

With all the activity around Poster Boy these days I haven't had a moment to post this video. I've been fielding an incredible amount of fan mail, legal offerings and in general, people who want to help or become a part of this movement. I am so excited to see the level of interest that PosterBoy has sparked in the public. It truly looks like a revolution. Wondering what the confluence of events that sparked all this may be, I came upon an interesting book, Lizabeth Cohen's, A Consumer's Republic. In it she discusses the political strength that came out of the consumer movement in the late 20's early 30's. It seems that a larger economic crisis like the great depression had forced consumers to stand up for themselves against a capitalist production system which had grown accustomed to taking advantage of them. Only in dismal economic times did people realize that they were standing by while larger corporations were making huge profits. I think it is safe to say that one of the motivating factors behind the public backing PosterBoy's activities with such fervor these days is this same sense of being taken advantage. If big business is gonna walk all over us, and outdoor advertising is one of those big businesses, we are going to fight back. It has become apparent that we aren't getting anything out of the current use of public space and it's making people stark raving mad.

January 29th I taught a class for some art students on media activism. By actually producing a piece in front of them I hope to give them both the tools and the confidence to be able to go out and re-imagine the public environment they live in on their own terms.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Teaching the future in 2009

I will be talking to a class of students tomorrow studying applied disciplines that are fundamentally engaged with society and culture within the art context. These pieces will be used as examples of my discipline in an effort to visualize the way an artist works within the confines of a given pre-described system. I am intending this work to pinpoint a distinction between medias reliance on the two dimensional and the common practitioners need to engage the viewer on a more physical level. Normally I would tell you where this is happening but given the recent hatred perusing this site I will have to keep my happenings off the radar.

Labels: , , , , ,

Friday, January 23, 2009

Hard Times For Everyone

Seems like Van Wagner is having some hard times, or else PosterBoy is really going all out. (He tells me these aren't his handy work) I'm sure this is just fallout from the current financial madness but that doesn't make it any less sweet. Empty like this, a billboard's potential becomes much more apparent, and its expected use less determined.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

What's Left is the Idea

One last post for the day and then I'm getting to my work.

PosterBoy and I have talked at length about the process of ad removal and rearrangement. The merits of destruction lacking artistry and finesse in a world of aesthetics and colors. Even graffiti stands on legs made strong by highly developed aesthetic codes. In light of this what can you make of such a wanton disregard for property and civil laws, conceived as an artistic endeavor. Maybe it is being misrepresented as art and is closer to activist projects. I returned to the scene of the crime where PosterBoy removed a large vinyl billboard and found something in the middle, an idea. No longer did Van Wagner control the message. What was left is the empty space upon which you can project your thoughts and desires about the place you want to be.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Monday, January 12, 2009

PosterBoy gets Rowdy

In this video PosterBoy tests the ease of removal/alteration of billboard sized vinyl signs. It's my understanding that he was attempting to release the vinyl in a way that would have allowed the top half to fold over the bottom half, leaving a blank canvas. On this new white wall he could have written whatever he chose. It was 27 degrees out and ice had covered everything earlier that evening. At the end of the video you can see instead of folding over, the right hand side of the vinyl was frozen stiff and dragged the bottom half down with the top as it came undone. This is a big hit, and if PosterBoy makes it work you will be seeing some of the largest ad takeovers I've ever seen happening soon. Stay tuned for more to come as I'm sure this isn't the last we will see of PosterBoy.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 1, 2007

The Van Wagner story

This is an article about one of the largest New York based public advertising companies, Van Wagner written by non other than the owner of Van Wagner himself. It started as a real mom and pop business and I think that's worth noting. The way public advertising has grown in the last few decades says a lot about the way in which public space has changed and has been commodified. A business like this can and will only grow in an environment that is conducive to re-appropriation of public resources for private gain, and New York City has obviously been very friendly to this idea.

Richard Schaps sold his outdoor-advertising company, Van Wagner, for $170 million. On Tuesday, he passed out millions of dollars to his people--and then started another outdoor-advertising company called Van Wagner.

By: Richard Schaps
Published October 2007

As told to Stephanie Clifford

It makes sense that Richard Schaps's first job was as a New York City cabbie. The Brooklyn-born Schaps has the grand tales, Runyonesque patois, and rough accent that mark him as from the streets of New York (rather, "Nuh Yawhk"). Today, from Schaps's office high above those streets, he doesn't see the buildings and landmarks that make up his native city; he sees spaces for advertisements. In 1971 he quit driving a taxi and started running a billboard company, first called Ward and then Van Wagner. Since then he's lured advertisers back to a grimy Times Square and put up ads in locales from L.A. to London. He can even look to the sky and see his company's ads, in skywriting. Schaps, 59, actually sold Van Wagner in 1997, but he started another business the next day--also called Van Wagner. The second incarnation earned $250 million last year.

My family was a manufacturer of men's suits here in New York. My grandfather was an immigrant, a tailor, and opened a shop. I always thought I would go into that business, but I knew very early that it wasn't a great industry to be in. And I started driving a taxicab, looking for other opportunities, in 1970.

I had a third cousin who was 19 years older than me. He'd bought a small billboard company called Van Wagner five years earlier. So you go to the guy that owns the building, and you give him x amount of dollars for permission to put up a sign, and you charge y. I could do that, sounds like a good idea to me. So I borrowed $25,000 from my father and bought a business called Ward. I owned 50 percent; I gave my cousin and his brothers the other half of the business for free because they were going to teach me the business. I was so successful that in two or three years I ended up buying out the brothers, and we merged Ward and Van Wagner.

At first we had one billboard; everything else was a painted wall that I would get $60 a month for. Then I drove around a lot and found locations. I put up my first billboard on the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel. In 1971, I was selling it for $2,500 a month. Now it makes maybe $25,000 a month. Great.

The trick in the outdoor advertising business is to find the zoning and regulations where you can build a sign. We found things like at Herald Square--that's where Macy's is, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and so forth--there was a whole building in one zone where you couldn't put a sign up at all. But we found a corner that was in a different zone, put a sign up, and sold it for almost a million dollars a year.

In 1979, it was terrible in Times Square. There was a gentleman named Douglas Leigh--he made the Camel sign with the famous smoke rings--who had 14 signs in Times Square. By the late '70s, 12 of the 14 signs were vacant. He went to TDI, Gannett, ArtkraftStrauss, and nobody wanted to do it. I bought those 14 signs. The biggest user of outdoor advertising in America at that time was Philip Morris. They had the Marlboro Man all over the place. They said, "Are you crazy? We'd never buy in Times Square. It's got pimps and prostitutes." We said, "They don't smoke cigarettes?!" We could not get an American advertiser to buy Times Square.

I knew they were using neon signage all over Japan, and I went to companies there. In 1979, the average American had never heard of Toshiba (OTC:TOSBF), Aiwa, TDK (NYSE:TDK). Within three years they had. They were planting a flag, putting up a big neon sign in Times Square and saying, we're here, on U.S. soil. That's the way that outdoor advertising works. I'm not gonna tell you how soft Charmin is with outdoor advertising. It's brand building.

There were about 35 signs in Times Square in 1980. There are like 250 now. They're getting $2.5 million a year for a billboard. That's the most expensive real estate in the world. It's the world's largest living museum. It's the only place in the world you hear, "Honey, move over. I want to get the Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO)." They're taking pictures of advertising.

I sold that business 10 years ago, in 1997, to Outdoor Systems. I was very careful about my noncompete and made it site-specific, so I was able to build new, but what I sold them I couldn't go after for seven years. They never really expected me to be back in business. They figured, hey, give it to the guy, he'll go play golf. That was their mistake. They'd never seen me play golf.

I sold it for $170 million. I gave my top people millions of dollars. I even went back to people, secretaries, that had been with me for 15 or 20 years and retired, and gave them money. I didn't cure cancer--I mean, I put up billboards.

I had sold my business on, you know, Monday. Tuesday, I'm back in business with the name Van Wagner, the same address, the same telephone number. So people show up, and we don't have any billboards. We don't have anything to sell. In London I saw a space on Piccadilly Circus, and I said, "I'm gonna get that." The landlord said, "Who the hell is Van Wagner?" So I said, "Look, I'm gonna send over two roundtrip tickets on the Concorde. I want you to come to New York, and I want you to see what we've done in Times Square." They flew over, we walked to Times Square, and they said, okay, we'll take your half-million dollars a year. And we went out and sold the sign for a million three.

We recently bought an aerial advertising business. We have about 40 planes. The next biggest competitor probably has three. Our competitors are really Pete the pilot that's pulling a volleyball net with letters on it that say, "Margaritas: $2.99, Girls drink free." We installed GPS in all of them so we can prove to our advertisers where we're flying.

There will always be the fear of how ugly things will become. I got an ad on my coffee cup, I got an ad on the plastic bag that returns my dry cleaning, I got an ad on my Chinese food takeout container. That's pretty cute. But that's what it is, cute. Someone wanted to sell me a business with advertisements on the ski lift. I said no, I'm skiing, please. It doesn't belong there. There are certain places outdoor advertising doesn't belong.

We have all of our own crews. Our competitors hire an outside contractor. You would look at Van Wagner billboards and say, "Oh geez, these are beautiful." And you'd look at some of our competitors, and you'd see their shirttail hanging out. We display a beautiful piece of art, and we pay attention to the frame. Like when there's a safety rail at the bottom, when the lights come up, you've got this beautiful ad and there's a shadow. It would just kill me to see an ad that someone is paying $40,000 a month for and see shadows on it, so our safety rails are retractable.

When I sold the business and started again I said to people, "Let's make a billion-dollar business." "A billion-dollar what? Sales, marketing, capital?" I said, "A billion of anything, okay? Aim for a billion, and we'll worry about that next." Ten years ago I had no signs and now I'm up to 750 signs. We're doing hundreds of millions of dollars in sales when we started doing zero. The business is five times the size of the business we sold. My love is my business; building this is truly a love. Which is lucky for me; not a lot of people get the chance to do it twice.

Labels: , , , ,


    Eduardo Moises Penalver & Sonia Kaytal
    Property Outlaws: How Squatters, Pirates, and Protesters Improve the Law of Ownership

    Barbara Ehrenreich
    Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy

    Lewis Hyde
    The Gift, Creativity and the Artist in the Modern World

    Geoffrey Miller
    Spent: Sex, Evolution, & Consumer Behavior

    Sharon Zukin
    The Cultures of Cities

    Miriam Greenberg
    Branding New York

    Naomi Klein
    No Logo

    Kalle Lasn
    Culture Jam

    Stuart Ewen
    Captains of Consciousness

    Stuart Ewen
    All Consuming Images

    Stuart & Elizabeth Ewen
    Channels of Desire

    Jeff Ferrell
    Crimes of Style

    Jeff Ferrell
    Tearing Down the Streets

    John Berger
    Ways of Seeing

    Joe Austin
    Taking the Train

    Rosalyn Deutsche
    Evictions art + spatial politics

    Jane Jacobs
    Death+Life of American Cities