<body> Public Ad Campaign
This blog is a resource for ad takeover artists and information about contemporary advertising issues in public space. If you have content you would like to share, please send us an email.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


Here is a nice little article on the NO AD app from Atlas Obscura. We are currently actively looking for curators and artists with interesting projects as well as for a full time NO AD media representative. The NO AD platform has been put through its paces and we think works like a charm. Now we need someone who wants to help it grow by reaching out to new audiences and engaging institutions that can provide progressive content. If you would like to talk with us about this opportunity, please contact us over email.

VIA: Atlas Obscura

Bulbous yellow Minions. Protein World urgently asking if you're "beach body ready." Promises to make money as a dental technician—all of these advertisements are repetitive parts of one's daily subway commute. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Fresh Milk TV Interview.

A big thanks to Freshmilk.tv for the interview and for Open Walls Gallery for setting it up and hosting a fantastic two man show with Vermibus. I think the questions Freshmilk asked prompted some honest answers, and other than my obnoxious use of the word "pupeteering", I think my thoughts are well reflected in this piece.

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Monday, July 13, 2015

Vermibus and I Installing In Berlin

Here is an image of Vermibus and I installing two pieces close to the Open Walls gallery in Berlin during the exhibition.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

In Bushwick, Street Art Comes with a Copious Side of Advertising Billboards

Everyone asked for comment in this article, including myself have something interesting to say. On a compete side note, I wish writers would let you know that they may quote entire sections of your emails verbatim. I always assume they will integrate your ideas into a story and so often whatever grammatically deficient gibberish i spew out in an email on the plane home from Germany ends up as a quote. :)
A Bushwick Collective mural by Joe Iurato at Troutman Street and St Nicholas Avenue with a large Coors billboard in the background. (photo by Joe Iurato, courtesy the artist)

The latest additions to the Bushwick Collective, the street art project founded and curated by Joe Ficalora around the intersection of Troutman Street and St Nicholas Avenue in Brooklyn, are a number of big, garish billboards. Since artists began transforming warehouse walls in the area with large-scale murals three years ago, there has been remarkably little infringement by the type of advertisements and hand-painted billboards that have overtaken many popular street art spots in Williamsburg and Greenpoint. But in recent weeks, as Bushwick Daily has pointed out, advertisements have begun appearing on the Bushwick Collective blocks, some of them installed directly atop existing murals. More [HERE]

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Monday, July 6, 2015

Grand Opening Exhibition At Openwalls Berlin

Recently I had the pleasure of exhibiting with my new friend Vermibus at Openwalls Gallery in Berlin. His work, like my own, takes advantage of the large outdoor advertising infrastructure in our public spaces in order to tease out questions of how we choose to adorn the cities we live in. Focusing on fashion imagery, Vermibus removes, reworks, and then reinstalls fashion advertising in public spaces. It is quite effective and given my background in the fashion photography world, something that I feel strongly about supporting.

While I was in Berlin I put up a few pieces, including a quick hit with Vermibus which saw us each take a single side of a two sided bus shelter. Once I get those images together I will make them available here.

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Friday, July 3, 2015

The Street Art of Bushwick Collective Is Disappearing Under Billboards

This is incredibly sad article is further proof that outdoor advertising is simply incompatible with public space. I know Anya of the House of Yes through friends, and she is a nice woman who has been seduced by the money that advertising is willing to pay for outdoor space. Her folding under the pressure of money is not her fault, but our collective fault for allowing advertising to use its incredibly large resources to sway normal citizens to profit at the expense of the rest of us. If advertising was not allowed in our public spaces we would continue to enjoy Bushwick as the arts mecca that it is, instead of watch the artists efforts be subsumed under a glut of paid commercial signage. 
Last week Frank Mattarella received an interesting phone call. Jason Medrano from Seen Outdoor Media was offering him $24,000 per year to rent a single wall on his building at 14 Wyckoff Avenue. Frank Mattarella was born in Bushwick- his family has owned the building on Wyckoff and Troutman for decades and they’ve rented it as a metal fabrication shop. His neighbors are North East Kingdom on one side and an industrial warehouse on the other. The recently painted warehouse is already sporting two billboards- a larger one with a Sprite ad, and a smaller one with an Atlantic ad. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Upcoming Berlin Exhibition July 3rd 2015

Celebrating its Grand Opening on July 3rd 2015, OPEN WALLS Gallery brings New York based Public Art pioneer Jordan Seiler together with European art activist Vermibus for a very special show, which consciously sets a statement against the superficial surface of today’s commercialized cityscapes and the visual pollution of outdoor advertising.
Jordan Seiler already started to challenge the relationship between public spaces and commercial advertising while attending The Rhode Island School of Design in 2000 with his PublicAdCampaign, for which he took over billboards to use them as canvases for his own artworks. Over the years Seiler’s campaign has grown from an individual art project to a collective work, which peaked in the New York Street Advertising Takeover, where more than 100 participants replaced ads with artworks. Later he launched a digital equivalent with an App titled NO AD, which replaces NYC subway advertisement with curated artwork.
Taking this idea even one step further Jordan Seiler and Vermibus joined forces for the NO AD DAY in November 2014, wherefore activists from all over the world were asked to remove outdoor advertisings, leaving plain white display cases as signs of the elimination of the commercial media behind. Just as in Vermibus’ individual work, in which the Berlin based artist removes ads and transforms the high gloss bikini beauties into deformed beasts, it’s the irritation of the common viewing habit that expresses his critique against the advertising industry.
The OPEN WALLS Gallery Grand Opening show will gather a collection of recent works from both artists - including a multimedia segment by Seiler - as well as a photo series by Thomas von Wittich, taken from his “Dissolving Europe“ project, for which he followed Vermibus around the continent. An introduction to Ad-Busting and Public Art will be given by Jordan Seiler during the vernissage.
Press & Private View
Friday July 3rd17:00 - 18:00
Vernissage & Opening Ceremony
Friday July 3rd18:00 - 22:00
Introduction Speech by Jordan Seiler
Friday July 3rd19:00
Runtime 03.07.-29.07. Tuesday-Saturday 11:00-19:00
or by appointment (info@openwallsgallery.com)
Additional press information, photos and video material is available upon request.
Please email the gallery and we'll get back to you shortly. 
Schröderstr. 11.1
10115 Berlin

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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

New Mobstr Work in 2015

Mobstr just sent over these two new street pieces and I am of course enjoying them. The above piece in particular intrigues me as I think about the viewer who knows nothing about street art, and less about the ad takeover sub-genre that Mobstr sometimes traverses. Whose voice do they assume Mobstr's text work is speaking in, and who is it speaking to? See more of Mobstr's work [HERE]

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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

This Ad for Banned Food in Russia Can Hide Itself From the Cops


Websites are already able to serve up ads customized for whoever happens to be viewing a page. Now an ad agency in Russia is taking that idea one step further with an outdoor billboard that’s able to automatically hide when it spots the police coming. More [HERE]

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Group Battles New York Transit Over Ad Censorship

The posting here at PublicAdCampaign has been decidedly less political lately, and that is in part because it is just hard to keep all the balls in the air at anyone time, and so some aspects of the project suffer when others get more attention.

With that said, below is a little press release about an ad related to horse drawn carriages, that is not being allowed to appear in the NYC subway system. Recently the MTA has adopted a limited ability to censor ad content if it is deemed to be political. This is in large part due to ads related to the Jewish/Palestinian conflict that have used the subway advertising platform for some pretty hateful messages. The fact that this limited censorship is now being applied to a less aggressive ad campaign that isn't even outright political, shows the slippery slope the MTA has put itself on.

We can argue for days whether or not it is in the publics interest to limit the speech we see while traveling our underground rivers, but that is not what is interesting to me about this particular situation. What I find amazing is that Outfront Media, the outdoor advertising company that operates the vast network of ads within the subway system, is the one making the censorship call.

With a vested interest in using the subway system for commercial advertising only, tasking Outfront to determine what is, and what is not, appropriate free speech within thier network of advertising, is bound to result in aggressive censorship of anything non commercial. Now I am not saying that Outfront would have a policy to support this, but they do have a business model which is about making money and not engaging the question of how we use public space for public speech in the best way possible. Thier default reaction, and rightly so, is to keep things simple and pass on any "ad" which does not comply to a neat definition of what is acceptable use of our public advertising infrastructure, mainly commercial.

This is what happens when we allow OOH advertising to control the our visual public landscape and the messages which are put there. Thier interests are simply not aligned with the public's and therefore over time, the publics interests are left behind for the interest of those in charge, Outfront. Advertising in public space itself is not the end of our visual public dialogue, but given enough time and complacency, advertising will envelop all other forms of speech and leave our public spaces commercial opportunities and nothing more.

VIA: Marketwired

NEW YORK, NY--(Marketwired - May 20, 2015) - The Metropolitan Transit Authority has rejected a PSA billboard about the dangers of horse-drawn carriages, submitted April 30 by nonprofit animal rights organization Last Chance for Animals. In response, LCA has hired prominent First Amendment Attorney Floyd Abrams to protect their constitutional right to free speech. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

New Street Work In NYC

I had the luck of capturing a few wonderful moments in front of this recent installation. The image above is by far my preference and I will likely turn it into a print edition over the next month or so.

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Thursday, May 14, 2015

The PublicAccess Website Has Been Updated To Include New Cities and Photos

The PublicAccess Project site has updated with new cities, new keys, and new work done by artists and individuals from around the world. As PublicAdCampaign readers will know, we launched the PublicAccess project just a few months ago and have been steadily sending out keys ever since, as well as gathering information about distant lands and thier advertising infrastructure. Check the video shot during a much needed stock replenishment. 
As an ongoing project, we are always looking to expand the PublicAccess map and get more people involved. If you don't see your city on the map, but want to help us figure it out, email us and we will be happy to troubleshoot the problem with you. 
Until then, enjoy some of the fantastic work that is being produced with PublicAccess tools and get involved yourself by getting a key right now
 Work by Dr. D - London
 Work by DB Cooper - San Francisco
 Work by Lister - NYC
 Work by Michael DeFeo - NYC
Work by Icy & Sot - Stavanger

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Soren Solkaer is Offering A Signed Book to NO AD Users

As many PublicAdCampaign readers know, the NO AD mobile app has been running for close to a year now, exhibiting a wonderfully diverse lineup of shows. From Sebastiao Salgado, to a group show of Gif artists, we have been trying to keep things exciting for those long term users we love so much. It has always been a hope of ours to encourage user participation, as well as offer prints or art through the app, so we are excited to announce a little contest.

If this is all new to you, visit the NO AD website [HERE]

This month, NO AD is exhibiting 100 images from the Surface Project by Soren Solkaer, and he has decided to make things interesting by offering a signed copy of the Surface book to the NO AD user who finds the most images, takes a screenshot, and posts it to Instagram with the hashtag #sorensolkaer. For instance, tagging the image below gets you two points towards a win. May 30th NO AD will change content and the contest will be over. Soren will tally the hastaged posts and contact the winner directly shortly after. Happy Hunting!

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Saturday, May 9, 2015

Baltimore's LED Art Billboard Is Nice, Sort Of

Don't be fooled, they use this billboard for advertising too, it just gets art sometimes as well. Hey it's a step in the right direction...
The Baltimore LED Art Billboard is an advertising billboard, but it is also a digital art display. We have taken a technology typically used for advertising and created a one of a kind digital art gallery. providing local artists incredible exposure to the public…absolutely FREE. Rotated in among the advertising are submitted images of every form of art, from painting, drawing, and illustration, to sculpture, photography, and game design. We welcome submissions from all local artists, student, amateur, and professional alike. After every few ads we will display a piece of art. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Times Square without billboards?

VIA: Metro NY
On the south-east corner of Times Square, where Minnie Mouse and Spider Man wait for customers, a crowd of tourists can be seen standing still and staring up at a billboard expectantly.

Every ten minutes or so, the screen they’re staring at projects their own faces back at them, which sets off a flurry of big-screen selfies.

But it turns out this billboard, and others plastering Times Square, may actually be illegal. Under a federal highway beautification law, the billboards are too big - the law states that highways should not be larger than 1200 square feet.More [HERE]

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Friday, May 1, 2015

The Age of Drone Vandalism Begins With an Epic NYC Tag

While I wouldn't say this is a particularly well achieved culture jam, or ad takeover, Katsu has proven that even those sky high billboards, so entirely off limits, are vulnerable. Excited to see what he is up to next. 
VIA: Wired
IN THE EARLY hours of Wednesday morning, the age of robotic graffiti was born. KATSU, a well-known graffiti artist and vandal, used a hacked Phantom drone to paint a giant red scribble across Kendall Jenner’s face on one of New York City’s largest and most viewed billboards. By all accounts, it is the first time that a drone has been deployed for a major act of public vandalism. More [HERE]

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

New Work for Two Upcoming Group Shows

A few years ago I was photographed by Søren Solkær in Norway for the Surface project. He set out to document the street art and graffiti artists that have helped make the genre such an important part of the art world, and came away with hundreds of portraits of some of its most influential characters. I was proud to be one of them, and even more proud to be showing with a select few at two upcoming exhibitions in New York and Los Angeles. 
The first is exhibition opens tonight at Subliminal Projects, 1331 W Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles. For this exhibition, Søren asked the participating artists to integrate the original portrait he took of us into a new piece for the show. I chose to break Søren's image into two so that I could install each piece separately in a phonebooth. Once installed, each phonebooth was photographed to produce the framed diptych above. 
The second exhibition opens on May 2nd at the Allouche Gallery, 115 Spring street, NYC. For this show, the gallery wanted each participating artist to work in a 3'x3' format. Because my gallery work usually happens in stolen ad frames, 3'x3' doesn't make a lot of sense to me and so I chose to take the opportunity to do a material study built around one of my favorite objects these days, the JCDHEX Public Access key.

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Thursday, April 23, 2015


Here's a nice piece on Spectre's recent ad takeover work. Love what he is up to.

VIA: Brooklyn Street Art

Yes, you were expecting an ad. Maybe one from News Channel 3 and charming Chuck and beautiful Belinda and that wacky weather guy and the whole 6 O’clock News Team. Instead, you got a glowing abstraction, a few seconds of calm on your way down the stairs into the subway. Artists continue to take over the ad space that continues to take over our public space, and these new backlit missives are from Specter. More [HERE]

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Ad Takeover for Public Access Goes Marketing Viral

In an odd twist, this PublicAccess ad takeover probably got Fritos more publicity than one would like. It is pretty hilarious though.

VIA: CBS Local San Francisco
SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — A San Francisco Muni bus stop “advertisement” in the Mission District depicts Chester Cheetah as Jesus, drawn hanging from a rough sketch of a cross with the words, “He Died For Our Snacks.” More [HERE]

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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Watch This Now

NO AD DAY - 2014 from Vermibus on Vimeo.
A while back, Vermibus put together a international NOAD day in which participation was open and the objective simple. Remove as much advertising as you could and free public space of the commercial burden right before international buy nothing day. The first year, participants were mostly those within the anti public advertising movement, but the hope is that year by year the project will grow to include a much larger and diverse group of individuals who share a concern about our over consumption of consumer messages.

This video was released over a month ago and I am very late posting it but please give it a watch. This is an important issue and Vermibus' work is aimed at highlighting it in a serious and meaningful manner.

I look forward to next year and watching this project grow. 

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Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spending Time With Friends

The other day I went out walking the city with a few friends, including one very special Spaniard I know from Madrid. We each installed a few pieces and then had a little dinner at my place. No one took it too seriously but below are some of the varying results. 
 Cash 4
 Jordan Seiler

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Monday, April 13, 2015

The Beauty of Un-Advertising by VladyArt

Image VIA: Vandalog
“the beauty of un-advertising” by VladyArt in Catania, Italy

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Monday, March 30, 2015

I Call It Progress

You might not think this is progress, but I do. Once the ads go away, what comes next is up to us.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Mobstr - Graffiti in a frame

Trying to keep this site updated with content has fallen victim to the ease of Instagram posting and the "like" feedback loop that is incredibly satisfying while simultaneously being a drain on my faculties. I've got some new work coming up soon, NOAD is still well worth checking out with new Gif art showing now, and Public Access which will be expanding in the net month after its initial launch. Until then, enjoy this beautiful and honest Mobstr piece. 

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Mobstr Is At It Again

Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows I am a big fan of Mobstr's work. Here are two recent pieces in London.

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

The Cost of Paying Attention

I have always said, if not slightly in jest, that advertisers should pay for the space they take up in my mind. More specifically outdoor advertisers, as thier messages are forced into my brain without my consent and therefor occupy a special subsection of crap that fills my thoughts. If I hum a pudding jingle that I saw on TV, it is my own fault for letting that message creep into my mind in exchange for a little sitcom induced brain shutdown. If I cant seem to get the image of a 4 story overly sexed Justin Bieber out of my mind, I have only Calvin Klien and Outfront Media to blame for that intrusion. 
It is with that thought that I post this NY Times article by Mathew B. Crawford. His argument, which is stated eloquently but isnt particularly new, is that we should treat our visual landscape like any other resource. We protect our air and water for the common good and the visual landscape that we share in public should be treated similarly so that the rampant abuse of that space does not cause negative economic or health issues for the population at large. I couldn't agree more. Mathew focuses his attention on an airport, which provides some nice examples of how our visual landscape is a worthwhile resource by juxtaposing the general airport with the paid lounges. If the wealthy are willing to pay for silence, or a lack of intrusion into thier visual landscape, it must have some worth.
Airports though, are both public and private spaces and while I couldnt agree more that they should be treated similarly to our shared city streets when it comes to visual pollution, actual public space has a more profound reason to remain commercial free. When we allow advertising to purchase the facades of our buildings, occupy our urban infrastructure, and generally access any and all of our shared environment, we lose something more than the valuable resource of silence. What we loose is access to our city and our literal ability to shape the environment we live in by visual interaction and cultural production.
"The street is a cultural space, one of the essential functions of which is to promote public interaction by facilitating self-expression. That’s a function that a space can have more or less, and it’s one that a space can lose."
If we allow advertising and commercial messaging to monetize the surface of our city, we loose access to those surfaces and with that our ability to define the cultural landscape in which we exist. To me this might be the most tragic loss due to public advertising but it surely isnt the only loss. Demanding an ad free public space is our right as citizens and of paramount importance as we continually define the objectives of our cities and the society that we want them to create. 
A FEW years ago, in a supermarket, I swiped my bank card to pay for groceries. I watched the little screen, waiting for its prompts. During the intervals between swiping my card, confirming the amount and entering my PIN, I was shown advertisements. Clearly some genius had realized that a person in this situation is a captive audience. More [HERE]

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Friday, March 6, 2015

A Conference Considers the Philosophy of Street Art

Hrag Vartanian just interviewed Nicholas Riggle about a conference at Pratt Institute finishing up this weekend with a keynote by Allison Young. I wont be able to make it, but I highly recommend making the effort to any readers who might be in New York. In the short interview, Riggle makes an amazing point that I think relates well to this blogs thesis, and my understanding of advertisings misalignment with our goals for cities and thier public spaces. 
"The street is a cultural space, one of the essential functions of which is to promote public interaction by facilitating self-expression. That’s a function that a space can have more or less, and it’s one that a space can lose." 
Thinking about what advertising does to our shared public environment in relation to this quote, it becomes pretty clear that a fully functioning public space cannot be one that includes commercial messaging. 
Today, a three-day conference titled Philosophy of Street Art: Art in and of the Street begins at Pratt Institute and New York University. Organized by Gregg Horowitz of Pratt, Nicholas Riggle of Lafayette College, and Christy Mag Uidhir of the University of Houston, the event will feature an artist panel (with Leon Reid IV, HOTTEA, ELBOW-TOE, and Tatyana Fazlalizadeh), two days of papers and discussions, and a keynote lecture by a leading authority on the topic, Alison Young of the University of Melbourne, who will speak about “Mainstreaming the Street: The Cultural Value of Illicit Street Art." Read the full interview [HERE]

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Monday, February 23, 2015

Prince Media Keeps Illegal Sign Locations Visible With Art, Until They Don't.

Mark Samosonovich has some great new images up in Manhattan, (above) and Brooklyn, that will lighten your day and make you think at the same time. They are the kind of selfless public art that one wants to see everywhere. In fact there isn't even a name to distinguish who the artwork is by, and its this anonymity which makes these works a pleasure to take in. That said, all of these artworks went up at the same time, in places where Prince Media once ran advertising. The coincidence seemed worth looking into because I didn't know too much about this particular "boutique" billboard company, and hey..that's what we do. 
In the past I have come to find that behind many, if not all "donations" of outdoor advertising space to artists and thier work, is a self motivated billboard company getting more from the deal than thier altruism would like to reveal. Tax deductions, percent for arts programs, and simple lack of business, can all motivate an outdoor ad company to "give" some of thier space to the arts. In fact a lack of commercial clientele is often a motivator for art in public spaces as companies attempt to keep thier stock lively and with content, when business slows down. None of these reasons make outdoor advertising companies look particularly kind, but aren't all that outwardly devious either. 
In New York, I have found one other far more insidious reason that art finds its way onto outdoor advertising infrastructure, and that, I believe, is exemplified by Prince Media's recent donation of space for Mark Samosonovich. Often, advertising companies will put up signs without obtaining the proper permits from the city of NYC Department of Buildings. They will operate these illegal signs until the highly understaffed DOB finds thier offending signage and begins to levy fines against the company. This can take months, if not years, all the while said company is making money from the illegal sign. It just so happens that all 3 of the locations Prince Media offered for Mark's work were facing DOB sign violations, the most egregious of which can be seen [HERE]
Once a sign is found and a violation has been placed on the building to which the sign is attached, things become a little more serious and continuing to run commercial copy can be a bad idea for business. It is at this point that many outdoor advertising companies, and I believe in this case, Prince Media, offers the space to an artist. Art, not needing a permit, does not accrue more violations, allowing the sign to remain "active" while the company resolves the violation and any fines associated with it. Once a resolution is complete, its back to business as usual, and no more art. What in the beginning looked like a neighborly gesture, turns out to be a self interested ploy to keep potential clients aware of advertising infrastructure while violations and illegal activities are negotiated in court, tying up tax dollars and the DOB legal team. 
It is this type of false altruism that I continue to see practiced by the outdoor advertising industry that fuels my belief that monetizing our public walls is inherently problematic for a city. Leaving companies, whose intention is to make money from public eyes in public space, in charge of who gets access to our shared walls, does not work. The motivations are simply misaligned with the public's interests. 
Mark Samosonovich
Mark Samosonovich

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