Saturday, May 9, 2009

Report From The Billboard Jungle in Los Angeles ::: illegalsigns

If you don't enjoy watching news programming in your free time, consider watching this on company time Monday morning.

Labels: , , , , ,

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dangerous Illegal Art? How About Some Dangerous Illegal Billboards

So with all this talk about illegal art I thought we should all be reminded of the other illegal image making that goes on around the city, outdoor advertising. There is a stark contrast between the two processes which needs to be noted, and one which has not been acknowledged by those commenting on this blog in regards to PosterBoy's illegal and destructive billboard takedown.

Above is an illegal billboard I found recently that I called in to the Department of Buildings (complaint #1247134). I am one of a group of diligent citizens that runs a site called illegal billboards that keeps track of illegal signage in the city, and is a forum for the discussion of billboard rules and regulations. We also keep track of the billboards we are responsible for getting removed, like this illegal sign at the corner of 34th street and 9th avenue. Illegal signage is nearly as prevalent if not more prevalent than legal signage in our public environment. Companies like Fuel Outdoor, (illegal signs' dirtiest billboard company) and NPA Outdoor, remain in operation despite conducting almost no legal business whatsoever. The fact of the matter is that both illegal artists and advertisers are operating vigilante style in a battle to gain the public's attention for their own cause.

With that said, the social deviance and danger associated with our illegal public projects pales in comparison to equivalent outdoor advertising activities. The most obvious difference being that their deviance creates an environment rife with illegal activity for profit, and ours creates an environment which promotes deviant activities in pursuit of social justice. The former is an environment where profit is paramount, and the public is silenced in order to keep quiet the illegal activities being perpetrated by private forces. The later is an environment where the public is rewarded for outing illegal activity in the public at the cost of our very own safety and well being.

Another difference between the two types of illegal image making taking place in our public environment has to do with the dangers associated with each. Recent PosterBoy activities were looked at as being especially dangerous to the public's safety by recent commentors. Yet the danger caused by PosterBoy is dwarfed by the incomparable danger that outdoor advertising poses to our public safety, both mentally and physically. This article details the safety concerns posed by outdoor advertising's illegal use of scaffolding around the city a few years back.

The above images are from a sidewalk shed which collapsed after strong winds got hold of a giant Helio advertisement wrapped around the shed. This eventually caused the structure to collapse, destroying several cars and potentially risking the lives of the public.

Therefore when we talk about illegal art and public destruction of property let's all remember that our efforts to press our issue by illegal methods do not veer too far from the operations of industries which have strangled a vital lifeline to our city, our ability to protest by any means necessary, while perpetrating the exact same crimes.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Monday, October 27, 2008

64 3rd Avenue: Fascia Sign on a Mural Permit

I posted about this illegal billboard on a few days ago and Rami Tabello from, being the most versed person I know on Illegal billboards, picked it up and gave it some interesting back story. This sign is not only illegal for not complying with its permit but in fact it was removed by the DOB because of its illegality approximately 3 months ago. The fact that it has been rehung is proof of the blatant disregard outdoor advertising companies have towards the laws of NYC and towards the interests of its citizens.

from by Rami Tabello

We’ve written quite a bit about fascia signs on mural permits. In fact, the City of Toronto is now being sued by Titan Outdoor over the issue. Toronto is not the only city with a vinyl sign on a painted sign problem. There is a lot in common between New York City and Toronto. Billboards for one.

This article from the New York Times from is from 1998:

The article illustrates that, just like in the City of Toronto, the New York Department of Buildings is issuing illegal permits for billboards:

City Councillor Duane recently wrote to the Commissioner of Buildings, Gaston Silva, saying that he fears the department ”is issuing blanket approvals for these signs without regard to building codes, zoning regulations, or their appropriateness.”

The article then goes on to say:

Billboards are permitted, with restrictions, in the parts of downtown that are zoned for manufacturing. They are banned in historic districts, though painted advertisements are allowed on some buildings. And within 100 feet of a residential zone or park, billboards are allowed only if they face at least 165 degrees away.

So the NYC code has more permissive regulations for painted advertising.

The photograph above, from, is of Fuel Outdoor’s illegal billboards at 64 3rd Avenue. A complaint was filed against the sign on August 14, 2006. Then in December 2007, Fuel Outdoor obtained a permit to paint a sign on this wall.

The permit appears to specify that there was an existing legal non-conforming painted sign on this wall. We would doubt that.

We’ve written about Fuel Outdoor before in Fuel Outdoor - The Dirtiest Billboard Company in America and Fuel Outdoor Builds 324 Illegal Signs in New York City Then Sues New York City.

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Finding Plenty

I help run a site called illegal billboards which tracks illegal signage in the city and New York's Department of Buildings efforts to combat this ongoing problem. Over the past few months not only have we located a plethora of illegal signage in the city but also flagrant disregard for the Sign Enforcement Unit and the DOB in general. (380 Canal Street) Often valid complaints of illegal public advertising billboards are served by the DOB in an effort to have the landlord remove the illegal signage and the result is absolutely nothing. I have found that many illegal billboards stay up well over a year after the determination by the DOB and the landlords fully ignore the cities request for thier removal in order to continue to make profits. This is yet another example of the public advertising industries disregard for the public's wishes and thier control over how public space is being used and or abused.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New York City's Struggle to Take Down Illegal Billboards

This article, written by Elizabeth Dwoskin, will appear in tomorrow's issue of The Village Voice. PublicAdCampaign is mentioned as part of a group of renegade artists and individuals attempting to aid the DOB in its uphill battle with the major outdoor advertising groups in NYC. Enjoy

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

1181 Broadway billboard removed

This sign when I saw it looked suspicious and upon further inspection had realized it was illegal and had already been called in. Two months after the initial complaint when I noticed it, it had still yet to be removed. I called it in to the DOB and sure enough it was removed within the last week. pictured is the before and after.

Labels: , , , , , , on 1181 Broadway

Some very important info has been posted on illagalsigns by Rami Tabello about the status of a billboard I called in which had already been deemed illegal and fined $15,000 but has yet to come down. Check it out at this link

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Illegal Billboards in NYC

After a lecture by Rami Tabello of Illegalsigns.caand Steve Lambert of The Anti Advertising Agency given at the Eyebeam gallery, I found a new way to vent my frustrations at the public advertising industry. I have spent the last few weeks walking around a few hours a week in search of what I believe to be illegal billboards in NYC. Along with many others, I found this advertisement which was not only illegal but which had been served by the Department of Buildings months prior to me laying eyes on it. I have called the DOB and complained that not only was the sign illegal but that it also had yet to be taken down after the DOB deemed it so. Here is an image of what it looks like and I will post an image of its removal as soon as that happens.

In the words of Rami Tabello, " An incompetent buildings department is just as bad as a corrupt buildings department."

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