Monday, March 1, 2010

Interview For

Our good friend Carolyn Tripp at asked us to answer some questions regarding the last NYSAT project that took place on October 25th. Yesterday they posted our responses.

Jordan Seiler and the many participants of New York Street Advertising Takeover (NYSAT, a sister project of PublicAdCampaign) have completed yet another round of murals on top of the illegally posted billboards on the island of Manhattan in NYC. This campaign was largely in protest against NPA Outdoor, one of the city’s largest contractor for billboards and large-scale advertisements. [More Here]

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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interview For Student Dissertation

After finding me through Poster Boy, this interview was given to an artist and student at the University of Brighton who wishes to remain anonymous. They told me that they are finishing their last year of study in graphic design, and are writing a dissertation on the theme 'is street art reclaiming public space?' Having interviewed Ron English, Dr. D, and Poster Boy about this already, I look forward to reading the final paper. If they are okay with us disseminating the final piece, we will post it here.

Do you think street art in itself is a political act or does the content or message of the piece need to have a clear political message?

Until Street Art and Graffiti production on unsolicited walls is legalized, these acts will continue to be political even if the content is not. Whether or not the practitioner admits it, putting work up on the street illegally is a demand for a public space that is conducive to public curation and participation. Street artists and graffiti artists, or property outlaws, as they are referred to by some lawyers, express a "willingness to break the law that signals the intensity of his or her dissenting position" on how public space is used. I think this is a very important social health issue in our modern cities that must be resolved for the public environment to reach its full potential. Being able to interact with public space on your own terms is an important part of realizing your potential as a public citizen. When you produce something visual in public space that you care about it is like leaving a piece of your self behind. Once work in the public is created, a permanent connection to that space develops which endures beyond your leaving. In this way, street artists and graffiti artists' works are a way of connecting people with the spaces they live in.

Are you inspired by any particular political or artistic movement? What would you say is the main message behind the stuff you do?

I am inspired by social justice movements, public space reclamation projects, and the tireless work of non permission based public art practitioners who create unauthorized moments of serendipity in our cities every day. There are many aspects to the PublicAdCampaign project but the most important is the promotion of public participation in the creation of our shared spaces. Anyone who goes out and creates in public without permission is expressing their desire for a public space which appreciates their individuality and their voice. One of the forces preventing this type of behavior is outdoor advertising and the supremacy of the commercial message over the individual message. In this way I am inspired by the uninspiring state of public space and its tendency to give credence to the commercial over the public. We must understand that public space is one of the last spaces in which we can demand a non privatized arena for dialogue. Most other forums, including print, television and recently the internet have become controlled by corporate interest and therefor do not allow meaningful democratic thought. If our public spaces are to function well for our society then we must prevent them from falling prey to the same corporate control and allow them to be the last vestiges of our democracy.

What part do you think the internet has played in the growing popularity of street art?

The internet has obviously facilitated the spread of this international movement. Most of us are informed daily of new and innovative street actions through the web. This online community is an important part of the street art movement particularly for those practicing this art form in smaller cities which might not have a flourishing scene already in place. The one thing that the internet cannot relay is the experience of street art which is an incredibly important part of the art form. The one on one interaction between viewer and creator holds much of the power behind the work. It is the experience of finding, being given a gift by someone which asks little of the viewer, that invests the work with such power and makes a trivial moment into a deep felt connection to the city space and the community at large. Street art is a way of creating dialogue in a physical environment, and without the viewer finding the piece, or interacting with the work, the art falls short of its potential. If street art was only experienced through the internet its affect would be greatly diminished.

How do you feel about the fact that some companies use street art as their advertising, both by using the aesthetics of it in regular advertising and sometimes using the methods of street artists (‘guerilla advertising’, street installations, stickers, clever stuff and so on)? Is there any danger in this?

Advertising's co-opting of street arts tactics is extremely problematic. Advertising is notorious for stealing artistic innovations in aesthetics and design. It can only be expected that this would happen with graffiti and street art. Despite this, what gives these two forms their power is not their aesthetics, but their tactics. The emotional connection that is a response to stumbling upon a beautiful piece of artwork, placed unassumingly in our public space is at the heart of this practice. This connection is made more powerful by the fact that the viewer is asked to give nothing in return to the artist. In fact the work opens up a space for contemplation and communication that is more akin to a concert experience than a gallery experience in my mind. One may ponder the motivations, messages, placement, and context of the artworks, and in doing so engages in a two way conversation with the artist and the space in which it was created. Advertising has as its singular motivation the trapping of your attention to deliver a very specific message or a simple brand recognition. By using the incredibly selfless tactics of street art, advertising tricks the public into engaging it as one would street art, as a gift, with an innocence that is a result of two minds finding each other in the anonymous public arena. Once the fact that the viewer is looking at an advertisement with selfish motivations is revealed, the viewer feels betrayed and this then separates the public from public space. I find myself walking the city streets looking for moments created by street artists and graffiti, knowing they will enrich my experience of the city. If you ask the average citizen how they interact with outdoor advertising on a daily basis, they will tell you that they try to ignore it. The two create completely opposing forms of participation and interaction with the city. When a viewer is tricked by advertising that poses as street art it removes one more reason to engage your environment which separates the average citizen even further from the space that they live in.

What kind of reactions do you get regarding your work? Why do you think people react that way?

As I said before, most people attempt to ignore commercial messages in the public environment. This causes them to categorically ignore the spaces in which advertisements are placed. Because my work reclaims these commercial spaces, I am often battling peoples inherent interest in avoiding them. This causes the work to take on attributes that advertising would not employ like physicality/texture, lack of text, over simplified graphics, and no clear message or meaning. When people do notice my work they are extremely happy to have the moment of pause created by my art and are relieved that they are not being solicited as they move through their public environment. The public's attempt to ignore advertising is a result of its tendency to take from the viewer while my work asks nothing of the viewer but to reflect on its existence, placement, and origin of creation. That said my work is often misunderstood. When my work manifests itself in large scale organizational projects, it is much easier to understand because the execution is much more visible. The execution, or act of creation, holds much of the meaning behind my work and when this is visible it is more clearly understood. The larger organizational projects are the result of the incredible dedication and participation of many like minded individuals intent on bringing this issue to the forefront of people consciousness and this in turn creates a wider audience and therefor clearer objective.

What does the term ‘public space’ mean to you? Who has the right to public space? Is street art a way of reclaiming public space?

Public spaces are those places where we all share an equal voice and right to the city. To me this means not only the streets, but the walls that surround us which impose a multitude of visual conversations. Everyone has the right to public space, so long as they are acting upon it as individuals. In this way, commercial use of public space is an improper use of our public environment because corporations are using money to increase their influence beyond an individual level. Each person should be allowed to impose their own interests on public space, creating a level of noise equivalent to their own means. By paying to disseminate their messages more broadly, commercial entities break this rule and overwhelm the individual, ultimately monopolizing the dialogue that is so important to a healthy engaged public. Beyond this, the commercialization of public spaces ultimately prevents individual usage of public space because we cannot afford to do so. Street art only reclaims public space in that it is illegal for artists to impose their individual voice on the public environment, unless they can afford to do so. The proper use of public space would include the visual articulations of invested parties and therefore accept street art's use of our shared environment as a normal form of public dialogue. For this reason, street art is non-violent political protest attempting to alter what is an acceptable use of our neighborhoods and communities.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

Artists Reclaim Public Space: A Conversation with Public Ad Campaign Founder Jordan Seiler

A while back I was asked to speak with Danny Valdes on his first radio broadcast of Radio Provocateur on WVRB radio. You can listen to our talk here. This discussion turned into an article for The Indypendent that you can read here. We were happy to see the first comment on the article was posted by Reverend Billy himself.

Rev Billy Says:

That is an energizing vision for New York City. We are mired in a post-great- city provincialism now. New Yorker’s creative life is encased in inbred careers. The arts are unheard-of, for instance, outside of their subcultures of critics, parties and backers. Relinquishing public space is key to the impotence and de-politicization of the arts. My own home art form is theater, and literally nobody has any idea what theater is doing. Meanwhile, the totalizing saturation by varieties of corporate theater on our streets and sidewalks is permitted even when it’s clearly illegal. We’re trained to respond with, what, “good for jobs!” “private property!” “the struggling economy!” Democracy, and a subset of democracy - call it “the greatness of a New York” - depends on re-taking public space.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Flair Magazine-Interview With PublicAdCampaign

You often meet interesting characters on the set of fashion shoots, but Jordan Seiler has a really unusual story. A photography lighting technician, he is also a very busy artist. He created PublicAdCampaign, a project that promotes, as works of art, the illegal occupation of public spaces designated for advertising. His goal? To protest against the distorted use of public spaces by the part of corporations and to return them to the public.

How did you start?

On a whim. I was studying at the Rhode Island School of Design and when I went home to New York and ride the subway, I thought that I would prefer seeing one of my images there instead of advertising.

What’s behind PublicAdCampaign?

Lots of money is made through advertising in public spaces. Unfortunately, we artists cannot afford to pay to exhibit our art; we can only do it illegally. Also, I would definitely like the streets more if we eliminated advertisements: it would reduce the corporate control of these places. They would return to the public, which could use it differently, more artistically.

What is your latest project?

My latest project is National Bestseller.

What is it about?

We took over the advertising spaces in phone booths with the pages of some bestsellers. It wasn’t so much about sharing the content of the book as much as the desire to return this space to the public. Books are loved and shared by many people and so it is only right that they substitute the corporate messages. It is a more democratic form of information.

And the next project?

I’ll be working with over a hundred artists and activists: we will take over 130 advertising billboards around New York.

Is there a political message behind this protest?

We move illegally and without permits, so this too is a form of “opposition”. We want the city to be returned to the public. It would be great if everyone could use it to display new and creative ideas. Public space is one of the last democratic spaces, where each one of us has the same power and the same “value” as the next person.

Working in fashion, you must have worked on the set of advertising campaigns. Isn’t that a contradiction?

Advertising is a tremendous force that guides our desires and persuades us to buy things that we might not even have thought of. When this content is in newspapers or on television or the radio, we can ignore it. But if it’s displayed on billboards, then we can only be subjected to it and we become unwitting slaves to the message, incapable of choosing. I don’t have a problem with advertising per se, but with how it is imposed on us in public spaces. So working in this industry is not a contradiction since I’m not participating in the creation of its content.

Do you know of similar initiatives in Europe?

In France they are at the forefront of this type of protest. I don’t know if this also exists in Italy.

Paola Salvatore

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

WVRB Radio-News From The Neighborhood

I will be a guest on Radio Provocateur this upcoming Tuesday, November 17th from 8-9pm. The program's host WVRB, broadcasts on 88.7 FM and follows a free and freeform method they explain like this...
NYC culture and personality specific radio brought with no inhibitions. Different voices for a diversified city. We're mad as hell hatters and we're not going to take it. So here's our radio. In the vast emptiness of the NYC airwaves a grassroots radio is taking hold. Intentionally free and freeform, free-speech, true freedom of speech radio.
I'm told the discussion will revolve around public space and its over commercialization in NYC. Obviously we over here at PublicAdCampaign have a lot to say on this matter and look forward to discussing the issue at length.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

New PosterBoy Interview From UK Street Art

I haven't heard much from PosterBoy recently so it is good to see him still preaching the gospel. In his defense, I think he is working hard on an upcoming book that we anxiously await.

VIA UK Street Art

Up-close and personal with Poster Boy: The definitive interview


We’re big fans of Poster Boy here at UKSA, and although he’s not technically from the UK scene, we’d like to make an exception and introduce you all to this sterling talent!

Clever, Creative and seriously cool, Poster Boy is the masked crusader waging war on advertising billboards across NYC will only a razor blade as his weapon of choice. Interview by Helen Soteriou. All photos from Poster Boy’s Flickr, which you can check out here

Who is the guy behind the mask? Can you tell me about yourself and your background?

No ones behind the mask. There’s only the mask.

Do many people know your real identity? Do you parents know?

Only the people who need to know, including mummy and pop-pop.

How did Poster Boy come about? Why did you start cutting-up posters and did you ever think it would turn into the phenomenon it is?

I’m constantly torn between wanting to be an activist and an artist. I’m not the greatest artist nor am I the greatest activist, but I’m a pretty good Poster Boy and that requires being little of both.

New York is inundated with advertisements. So why spend money on materials when posters and billboards are ripe for the picking? Stealing and vandalising ads is illegal, but littering the public’s visual space with images and messages that are motivated by profit is wrong. There’s a lot of potential in working with your environment, especially if the motives are well place. Besides, the traditional mediums have never satisfied my ambitions.

I always hoped this would catch on. I couldn’t have been the only one with these sentiments floating around.


What are your views on advertising?

Advertising is bizarro art. Both are cut from the same cloth, but what sets them apart is intent. Art is driven, at least in theory, by the desire to express oneself. Advertising is driven by the desire to promote a product or service. Often times the two overlap making it hard to tell the difference. As long as there’s money to be made there’ll be advertising. I can’t deny that. With development of technology and the market comes increasingly elaborate ad campaigns. Sometimes the campaigns are funny. Sometimes they’re artful. But one thing I’ll never accept is public advertising no matter how clever the campaign is.

Do you think that people are more wary about believing the images / messages that are printed because of the worldwide economic downturn?

The economic pinch continues to breed skepticism. However, people have been wary of the media lies for a while now.

I remember our first conversation and the email you sent me:
Have you ever read something and said to yourself, “Christ, where have I been the last few years of my life?” Well, your email just did that to me. These type of requests and acknowledgements have always humbled me. …

Why do you think people are so taken by your work?

I think people relate to the work mostly because of the commentary. There’s a lot going on in the world financially, politically, culturally, and environmentally. The work touches on some of these topics. Often times with humor, which is very important in serious situations.


The other reason is the medium. I mean really, with the exception of the people profiting, who doesn’t hate public advertising?

We talked about some of your future plans and what Poster Boy intends to do next. You strike me as someone who has a strong passion and desire to follow his dreams – to continue to grow and be creative in the way you want.

I should hope so. My dreams are pretty much all I have right now.

To me you are sending out a clear message to people that they should not give-up on their desires -to listen to their hearts and pursue the path that they want without being afraid to voice their opinions. Do you think this is a fair statement?

I believe it’s a fair statement. As long as your path doesn’t involve the destruction of life I say follow it. The worst that can come from following your heart is knowledge and wisdom.

I believe that the whole point of street art is that it is on the street for everyone to see– you are not stifled creatively and not drawn by the $$$. Nobody tells you whether you are good enough. It is art for the people, not the selective few.

Street art is for anyone to experience. It works both ways. The streets serve as a venue for artists who wish to forego gallery-world hierarchies.


I’m not stifled or drawn by the money. Doesn’t mean the pressure doesn’t affect me. I’ve turned down some very lucrative deals in order to make a statement. I’ll be honest, when rent is late or I can’t manage three squares a day I feel a little gypped, but when those feelings start bubbling I just remind myself of why I started this. All my life I wanted someone or something to believe in. Except for a few inspirations here and there I never found it. So I set out to be the that thing I always yearned for. So what if PB&J has been the menu for weeks or the lies to my landlord are getting better, life could always be worse. Besides, poverty tends to be quite the motivator these days.

I think the popularity of street art has exploded over the last couple of years and I feel that it is good and bad. Great street artists are enjoying the success they deserve and some are just riding on their coat-tails.

Actually, I don’t believe bad street art exists. I say cover every Goddam inch of concrete and steel! What bothers me are the people who try to mask gallery art as street art and vice versa. I’m not one for strict labels or definitions of anything, but there’s a fundamental difference. At the same time I understand certain situations call for compromise. I know I’m not the purest street artist or activist. There have been Poster boy shows with prints being sold, and I’m not even sure if I should feel guilty for it. I’ve always tried to bring something different to a show and I’ve never sold an actual Poster Boy piece. The point being that the street art persona should be critiqued and presented differently than the gallery art persona. Once street, graf, or whatever art, is brought into a controlled environment it ceases to be street art, period.

With the phenomenal costs prints and original works are going for it has become de rigueur to like street art. Yesterday, I went to opening night of an exhibition on Brick Lane in London , and it was dominated by the young and trendy. Like a few of the street artists who were present, I felt awkward and out of place. My question to you is how do you feel about how street art has evolved and do you feel proud to be labelled a street artist. Do you always see the streets as your playground?

Let me guess, some guy in a Basquiat shirt, skinny jeans, and an ironic mustache gave you the, “where the fuck is your Murakami bag” look? Don’t worry, we’ve got that too. It happens whenever something is in vogue. Next time just make a scene. Tell everyone you’re Banksy or that your dad owns the Tate.

I’m proud to be a street artist in the literal sense. I find comfort in the uncertainty of the streets.

How does it feel to have a platform? You have the attention of all the major media players in New York who are raving about the statements that you put out?

It feels really weird, ’cause I’m not that cool.

Who influenced you growing-up – people and / or other artists?

This one’s hard. You’d expect me to say Keith Haring or something. Not that he hasn’t, but I’ve been inspired by many characters in my short life. I can honestly say that Bugs Bunny inspired me as much as Fredrick Douglas.

How do you work – do you come-up with ideas on the spot or do you see posters and then think about how you can create images from them?

The work is always impromptu. It has to be, the ads are always changing. Even the gallery work relies on materials in the immediate environment.

Are there any other comments that you would like to make?

God Save the Obama.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

French Artist OX Answers A Few Of PublicAdCampaign's Questions

Every once in a while we come across an artist whose work seems to be very in line with our own over here at PublicAdCampaign. We like to ask them a few questions about their intentions and motivations. French artist OX took the time to answer our request and the results are given below.

Why do you create work in the public?

I do not create my works in public, however I do install them in public places. First, I select locations by closely examining a specific area, then I do the painting in my studio, and only then is it installed outside in public view. I see my work as “installation” rather than “performance”. It is a very free way of envisaging artistic production.

Why do you create work over/using outdoor advertising?

I have always thought that billboards, because they are similar to huge paintings hung in the landscape, provide an extraordinary support on which to show my paintings. At the beginning, I used them only as a means for bringing my work to the public eye and to publicize it in a quick and effective way, but without giving the surrounding context any particular attention. Currently, my art is the same but I now take the site into account, up to the point even where it often dictates my graphic choices and I sometimes leave pieces of the advertising image visible.

Tell us something about where you live and your relationship to your city.

I live in Bagnolet, a suburb less than 1 km outside Paris, where I have pasted more than 130 posters on free-expression-panels (designed for non-commercial posters) over a period of 4 years. I imagine the town as a recreation ground, which I view as a three-dimensional composition in which I place disturbing visual elements, whose presence will become a sort of photographic still life.

How would you describe your relationship with advertising?

Advertising is omnipresent in our lives, it feeds our consumer addiction, it exploits and recycles artistic creation and it finances it. It forms a part of my imagination, I draw on its imagery to create and I use its means to communicate. Although I sometimes divert it’s meaning, I do not have the pretension of fighting it.

Having done both, is there a difference between working in France and New York?

Yes, there is a difference. I think it is less risky to practice this art in France. With the Ripoulins in New York in 1985, there were no billboards available for my work, so I pasted my paintings directly on worksite boardings or private walls and even on a roof at Central Park, which caused problems with the owners and the police, and we were even taken to court. I no longer work in this manner.

Tell us one of your favorite moments working on the street.

Without a doubt, the very first time I pasted my work on a billboard! More recently, a favorite moment was one very cold winter morning when I had to mix antifreeze with my paste and then climb onto my slippery car roof to carry out my art billposting, even though I was alone it was a moment of jubilation. And of course, there are many other memorable times.

If you could run a fantasy camp, what would it be?

At first, when I read this question, I imagined Fantasy Camp to mean a sort of combination between Spring Break and a Hippy group, where you do body painting in the setting sun . . . . then I thought of two projects I worked on, one in which I took part called “Holidays and Painting”, and another project which has never been carried out : “Festival of Color”.

My idea would be to propose a range of actions to enable people to celebrate their favorite colors.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Posterchild Weighs in on the World

Every so often, there is someone who I want to know more about. I ask them some questions and they answer them in the typical fashion. Sometimes I get great stuff, sometimes not. Other times I get detailed descriptions of how to change the world we live in and it floors me. Thank you so much to Posterchild for having the vision and the words to fully explain yourself.

Why do you create work in the public?

Man, that should be easier to answer than it is. I think maybe this
question was easier to answer when I was younger and just starting.
Full of manifestos and bluster and whatnot. Now there are so many more
caveats and complications and doubts. Or maybe they’ve always been
there, but they’ve had time to grow. ANYWAY, In brief, I work in the
public, because that’s where PEOPLE are. I want to connect and
communicate. The street is the first -maybe best- place to do that.

Why do you create work over/using outdoor advertising?

Because that’s what already in the public. It’s extremely aggressive,
everywhere, and often illegal. I throw my own 2 cents into the mob,
and I don’t see that as being particularily worse ( any more “illegal”
or immoral) than what these groups are doing already. In fact, I think
it’s much better. But is that two wrongs?

Tell us something about where you live and your relationship to your city.

I live in Toronto, and it is the greatest city and the worst city. I
love it. But I’m often frustrated by it. I feel like it has so much
potential and so many people working towards bettering it. Toronto has
been unusually blessed with a very large number of people who care so
deeply about it and work so passionately for it. We love the TTC even
though it’s underfunded, overcrowded, and runs despiteful, adversarial
ads that frame us and treat us like criminals.

How would you describe your relationship with advertising?

Complex. Advertising informs so much of what I do. Advertising is at
the core of graffiti and street art. Advertising is the genisis for
modern graffiti. Advertising begat graffiti which begat street art,
which both beget more advertising. I’ve never claimed to be a culture
jammer or ad buster. I don’t exist soley in opposition to
advertisting, and if it were to sweept off our street tomorrow, I’d
still be doing my thing out there. But advertising feeds me. It
provides near guilt-free surfaces to create work on. Many a discarded
box of wildposting posters has had their contents become a stencil or
a poster. I love to literally “Flip” and ad, and make my own work on
the back. It’s weird. I dislike advertising, but I’m disapointed when
I find a video billboard has been removed because it is the required
surface for creating art on, for creating my art with, and it is now
gone, you know? True, I just need to walk a few blocks to find a new
one, but still, working with advertising has made ads an interegal,
needed element of those artworks, and that can create a weird,
interesting conflict.

Having done both, is there a difference between working in Toronto or New York?

Yes. Many. I’ll need to do more work on NY before I’m ready to draw
clear distinctions. But there are differences to be sure. Every city
is different. You need to really get to know a city- you need a
healthier, stronger realationship with the city than I have with NY
before you can really work successfully- that is, like an insightful,
engaged local- within the cities space. You can still make work -good
work- without that engagement, but I think it could have a “tourist”
feel to locals.

Tell us one of your favorite moments working on the street.

Hmm. Maybe when a drunk dude came and used his drunken strength to
help TEETH and I get these heavy sheets of particle board in place so
I could screw them into the lil’ billboard we were taking over.
Crowdsourced labour!

If you could run a fantasy camp, what would it be?

Oh man. I guess I would run a camp for city commuters. I would make
all the car drivers ride bikes. You would have to surrender your keys
when you entered the camp. There would be a week of lessons (including
classes on bike maintenance and repair) and practice and fun rides
around the city and it’s parks. There would be history tours and
architecture tours and street art/graffiti tours and food tours and
other themed tours- campers could sign up for whatever tours sounded
interesting to them! And when the week is up, then it’s back to work-
but we keep your keys! After another week, you’d get your car keys
back at a reunion where everyone could share war stories of their week
of bike commuting, have drinks, and cement friendships! The camp would
provide bikes for anyone who wanted to take the camp, but couldn’t
afford it, and provide safe rides home after the reunion party for
anyone unfit to ride a bike or drive a car. We would form partnerships
with city politicians and corporate leaders, encouraging corporate and
civic groups of campers- and use funds (and awareness) raised by the
camp to push for more tax dollars for bike lanes, lockups, and
infrastructure, and less tax money going to support car culture.

Hell, that sounds good. Lets do it.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Two sides to Every Coin-part 2

I figured PosterBoy should have a chance to answer the questions surrounding his arrest. We are happy to be able to provide PosterBoy the opportunity to tell his side of the story.

PAC-People are hearing rumors that you were arrested on Friday evening. Wanted to get the straight scoop directly from you.

PB-Henry Matyjewicz was arrested Friday night at 7:30pm, sent to central booking, then sent to Rikers. He was bailed on Sunday night, and was released Monday 2am.

PAC-Explain to everybody what you were doing the night of your arrest.

PB-Tossing back a couple of brewskies and watching Henry Matyjewicz get arrested for art crimes he didn’t commit.

PAC-Were you expecting a police presence at your first "real" exhibition in New York?

PB-First off the work was a live contribution from the Neo-Cons (Poster Boy, Aakash Nihalani, and Ellis Gallagher) to help raise money for Friends We Love. Since the flyer guaranteed Poster Boy’s presence we expected the police to come through.

Look at the piece that was put up. It would’ve been a success either way, but how “ironic” is that? Maybe too ironic. The party would’ve gone a lot smoother without an arrest, but it didn’t hurt the cause. It feels good to exploit the NYPD.

PAC-What were the police's reasons for arresting you?

PB-According to Henry they were trying to find Poster Boy. The plainclothes officers arrived around 7pm, like the flyer said, then started snooping around. They overheard Henry talking about the piece he helped install then arrested him. I reviewed the evidence presented by the NYPD through Henry’s account. They have a some random pics from the Lorimer stop on the L line of some vandalized advertisements and Henry’s grey hoody which is supposedly the same one from the youtube video. So basically they have nothing.

PAC-What is the best thing that's happened to you since being in jail?

PB-Henry’s arrest helped propagate the ideas behind Poster Boy. I hear the new Poster Boy movie is set to come out this summer. I hope it’s a trilogy. Thank you NYPD and Henry.

PAC-Did anyone buy the now notorious "the neocons did it" piece that you were making especially for the exhibition?

PB-No physical work of Poster Boy will ever be sold or privately owned. The piece will be recycled and used for other work.

PAC-In your own words, what does this arrest mean to you and in relation to your work?

PB-More visibility. This will help the public see and understand the issues at hand. It’s unfortunate that Henry was arrested, but there comes a time in a person’s life when their beliefs are put to the test. Henry Matyjewicz passed with flying colors.

PAC-Any last thoughts you might like to ad?

PB-The only thing that could match the NYPD’s shit investigation is the New York Post’s shit reporting.

PB-Of course I’m not surprised. It’s the New York Post.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Poster Boy, Street Artist

The bad news is our web traffic has tripled because of PosterBoy, The good news is our web traffic has tripled because of PosterBoy. That said, I promise we will continue to bring you other content but until then this we continue to support PosterBoy in everything he is doing. Despite what I'm sure is a whirlwind of press and praise, PosterBoy seems to be keeping the public in his heart and mind.

from Gothamist by Jen Carlson

php1sP66YAM.jpg When we first heard of Poster Boy it was for his subway ad "mash-ups." More recently a video came out showing him work on a much larger scale, above ground, and promising it's a sign of what's to come. Earlier this week we tracked down the anonymous artist to ask him about his plans, ideas and why he does what he does.

Do you consider yourself a street artist? Amongst other things, yes.

Did you start with the subway ad "mashups" or had you been working on other canvases before? I started with hand-me-down canvases in art school. Appropriation art was the excuse I gave. Without trying to sound pathetic it all started with not having the space and money to make art the traditional way. After a while the canvas work didn't satisfy my ambitions. I felt I had a lot more to "say" and it was eating me inside. Then one day out of frustration and curiosity I started tearing down the ads.

Recently there was video of you taking down a billboard and a hint that bigger things were to come. What's next? I have something planned that, if successful, will make the poster and billboard stuff look trivial. However, the process will take a few months maybe a year or so. For now, just advert takeovers and more collaborations. For people who're interested in PARTICIPATING please email

How hard is it to take down a billboard?! Cutting them down is easy. I use the same razor in the subway. Having the nerve and competence to climb up is something entirely different.

Have you ever been arrested? Yeah. Never for art related crimes though. What have I gotten away with? That's the real question.

What have people said to you when they see you altering the subway ads? I get a lot of, "Oh you're the guy that does the poster stuff", and, "Hey, did you do anything on the such and such line?" Most of the time people stare. On a good day I have Vandal Squad officers hounding me for autographs.

What is your overall goal? The overall goal for Poster Boy is to inspire others. I'd love to see people take up the Poster Boy model and create change within their environment. I'd like people to interact with art, media, and public space a little differently. Attaching a copyright to images and ideas is petty. I don't subscribe to the idea of originality either. Whether you believe information comes from the collective unconscious or plain ole history there's always a precursor to your idea. The creative process is more like a perpetual collaboration with our predecessors.

Please share your strangest "only in New York" story. While walking through the LES one day I approached your typical NYC movie set. Before turning the street to avoid the hoopla I caught Woody Allen staring at me. So, while walking, I stared back. This went on for about a minute. Right before I turned the corner I grimaced the way a five year old would. He laughed then I laughed. I thought it was kinda cool that I made Woody laugh. Usually he's the one making people laugh...that is when he isn't boning his daughter.

Which New Yorker do you most admire? Amy Goodman from Democracy Now. I don't trust news from anywhere else.

Given the opportunity, how would you change New York? Ban tv, deadly weapons, and advertisements. Make public transportation, school, healthcare, and internet free. Make all energy free and renewable. Oh, and maybe change the NYPD uniform from navy blue to hot pink.

Under what circumstance have you thought about leaving New York? If the MTA raises the fare again.

What's your current soundtrack? Charlie Parker, Dead Prez, Radiohead, Mos Def, old Beastie Boys, Chopin, and Santogold have been on heavy rotation lately.

Best cheap eat in the city. The Hare Krishna Temple on Houston & 2nd Ave. serves tasty vegetarian food to students for a small donation. For everyone else there's Oyama sushi on 1st Ave. & 11th St.

Best venue to see music. Central Park when the weather is right.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Ron English Interview

VIA Wooster Collective

Ron English has been taking over billboards for a long time. I've always understood his work to come from the political side, taking his issues with outdoor advertising based on its content and marketing tactics which often take advantage of the under represented. The beginning of this interview says otherwise. Ron talks about the freedom of speech as well as the control of public space issues with clarity and earnestness. Its a great look into his thoughts and process.

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Freinds We Love PosterBoy Interview

Friends We Love
does interviews with interesting people. I know first hand PosterBoy is an interesting person so this video makes sense.

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Poster Boy Informal Interview

I thought Poster Boy had some interesting ideas bubbling beneath the surface of the NY Magazine article about him. I decided to see if he would elaborate on his thoughts. Here are his responses to four quick questions I asked him regarding his work and practice.

Q-Why do you think you have the right to destroy private property?

A-Outdoor advertisements go beyond the physical spaces they occupy. They pollute the visual environment and infiltrate people's subconscious. Ads on tv and magazines, however abrasive, affect a specific group of people. That group being the ones subscribing to the specific show or issue. Outdoor ads, what you consider public property, assaults everyone in it's vicinity. With that said, I feel I have the right, and even obligation, as a human being to fight back. Besides, I don't like the idea of private property.

Q-Why do you Attack advertising?

A-"Advertising" struck first. By preying on people's insecurities the advertising industry has been coaxing me, and countless others, on how to look, feel, and act. Some companies that advertise on a mass scale, like coca cola, are involved in outright violations of human rights.

Q-What are some of the things you hope viewers are thinking about when they look at your work?

A-I hope they're thinking of many things. I'd like people to consider the role of advertising and the companies/institutions behind them. I'd like people to ask themselves whether they're truly happy with the way "things" are, and if they aren't then what they can do about it. And of course, I'd like people to question art. After all, isn't that one of the major roles of art? To push and question what is possible and beautiful. In the end if I can get someone to chuckle during their drab commute then I'm happy.

Q-You were quoted in the NY mag article as saying you had found “A new sense of independence, where I felt, I should take control of my environment.” What does taking control of your environment mean?

A-It means putting theories to the test. Don't just read Noam Chomsky. Get excited and do something about it. However, be smart about it. Don't go throwing molotov cocktails left and right, unless you're in a third world country. We live in an "advanced" society. This calls for advanced actions. The time for marches, however relevant in the 60's, has sadly come to an end. Dissent is big business for war profiteers. We need to assent. Fight Club, for lack of a better example, illustrates my point well.


Thanks so much for your honest and compelling answers.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

Interview with Tom14

This is an amazing interview with Tom14 that illustrates the important link between street art and community. It speaks to the destruction of public space and street art's role in defying what many consider the inevitable "progression" of neighborhoods away from what community members consider their home. To interact with your environment is to stake claim to the ways it is used, and to renegotiate the power structure which determines its fate.

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Saturday, July 5, 2008

Consuming Images with Bill Moyers-PBS

This six part series aired on PBS in 1989, but I think its still well worth watching. Professor Stuart Ewen of the CUNY graduate center has some wonderful things to say about advertising culture that echoes much of what he talks about in the three books I have listed on this site.

Part 2-
Part 3-
Part 4-
Part 5-
Part 6-

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sao Paolo

I've wanted to make a comment on the Sao Paolo decision to ban all outdoor advertising all the way up to the goodyear blimp for some time. Searching the decision I found this interview with a Paolista reporter about that says some really compelling things about what happened after the billboards came down.

BOB GARFIELD: On January 1st, 2007, a funny thing happened in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The city of approximately eleven million people, South America's largest, awoke to find a ban on public advertising. Every billboard, every neon sign, every bus kiosk ad and even the Goodyear blimp were suddenly illegal.

The ban on what the mayor calls "visual pollution" was the culmination of a long battle between the city's politicians and the advertising industry, which had blanketed Brazil's economic capital with all manner of billboards, both legal and illegal. Within months, the city has gone from a Blade Runner-like vision of the future to a reclaimed past.

Vinicius Galvao is reporter for Folha de Sao Paulo, Brazil's largest newspaper, and he joins us now. Vinicius, welcome to the show.

VINICIUS GALVAO: Oh, thank you. I appreciate it. It's my pleasure.

BOB GARFIELD: I've seen photos of the city, and it's amazing to see this sprawling metropolis completely devoid of signage, completely devoid of logos and bright lights and so forth. What did Sao Paulo look like up until the ban took place.

VINICIUS GALVAO: Sao Paulo's a very vertical city. That makes it very frenetic. You couldn't even realize the architecture of the old buildings, because all the buildings, all the houses were just covered with billboards and logos and propaganda. And there was no criteria.

And now it's amazing. They uncovered a lot of problems the city had that we never realized. For example, there are some favelas, which are the shantytowns. I wrote a big story in my newspaper today that in a lot of parts of the city we never realized there was a big shantytown. People were shocked because they never saw that before, just because there were a lot of billboards covering the area.

BOB GARFIELD: No writer could have [LAUGHING] come up with a more vivid metaphor. What else has been discovered as the scales have fallen off of the city's eyes?

VINICIUS GALVAO: Sao Paulo's just like New York. It's a very international city. We have the Japanese neighborhood, we have the Korean neighborhood, we have the Italian neighborhood and in the Korean neighborhood, they have a lot of small manufacturers, these Korean businessmen. They hire illegal labor from Bolivian immigrants.

And there was a lot of billboards in front of these manufacturers' shops. And when they uncovered, we could see through the window a lot of Bolivian people like sleeping and working at the same place. They earn money, just enough for food. So it's a lot of social problem that was uncovered where the city was shocked at this news.

BOB GARFIELD: I want to ask you about the cultural life of the city, because, like them or not, billboards and logos and bright lights create some of the vibrancy that a city has to offer. Isn't it weird walking through the streets with all of those images just absent?

VINICIUS GALVAO: No. It's weird, because you get lost, so you don't have any references any more. That's what I realized as a citizen. My reference was a big Panasonic billboard. But now my reference is art deco building that was covered through this Panasonic. So you start getting new references in the city. The city's got now new language, a new identity.

BOB GARFIELD: Well, cleaning up the city's all well and good, but how do businesses announce to the public that they're open for business?

VINICIUS GALVAO: That was the first response the shop owners found for this law, because the law bans billboards and also even the windows should be clean. Big banks, like Citibank, and big stores, like Dolce and Gabbana, they started painting themselves with very strong colors, like yellow, red, deep blue, and creating like visual patterns to associate the brand to that pattern or to that color.

For example, Citibank's color is blue. They're painting the building in very strong blue so people can see that from far away and they can make an association with that deep blue and Citibank.

BOB GARFIELD: Now, the city has said, having undertaken this effort, it will eventually create zones where some outdoor advertising will be permitted. Do you expect Sao Paulo eventually to just revert to its previous clutter?

VINICIUS GALVAO: Not to revert to previous clutter, but I think like very specific zones, I think they're going to isolate the electronic billboards in those areas, in the financial center. I don't think they should put those in residential areas as we had before.

BOB GARFIELD: Now, the advertising industry is obviously not happy about this. They're complaining that they're deprived of free speech and that it's costing them jobs and revenue. But is there anyone else in Sao Paulo who's unhappy about this? Tell me about the public at large. What's their view?

VINICIUS GALVAO: It's amazing, because people on the streets are strongly supporting that. The owner of the buildings, even if they have to renovate a building, they're strongly supporting that. It's a massive campaign to improve the city. The advertisers, they complain, but they’re agreeing with the ban. What they say is that we should have created criteria for that to organize the chaos.

BOB GARFIELD: Vinicius, thank you very much for joining us.

VINICIUS GALVAO: Thank you so much.BOB GARFIELD: Vinicius Galvao is a reporter for Folha de Sao Paulo.

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