<body> Public Ad Campaign: March 2010
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.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Living Walls the City Peaks: Call for Artists

A while back we were asked to be on a panel for the Living Walls Conference in Atlanta Goergia, August 13-15. Graciously we accepted as the organizers' enthusiasm was infectious. They have recently put out a call for artist participation as well as released a list of artists already on board. I'm excited to see such a diverse and exceptional group will be participating including two personal favorites, Gaia, and Know Hope. If you are interested in getting involved and seeing your work on the streets of Atlanta, I highly suggest you check out the site and contact the organizers.

There is also a list of speakers available for this event that includes, Dr. Jeff Ferrell, Sabir Kahn, Nathan Piazza, Liam Rattray, Blacki Li Rudi Migliozzi, and us. I'm not familiar with all of the speakers, and I look forward to talking to everyone about their ideas on public space, but I do know Jeff Ferrell's work. He has published several books on the battle for public space, including Crimes of Style and Tearing Down the Streets, which deal with graffiti and other anarchic uses of the public environment. (huge oversimplification) I was extremely inspired by both of these books and look forward to meeting Jeff in Atlanta.

Check out their Facebook page, Twitter, and website. Should be an amazing event, can’t wait!

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Parisians Takeover Metro Station for Upcoming Elections

New public protests in Paris takover the Strasbourg Saint-Denis Metro station for the upcoming elections. [More Here]

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Thursday, March 25, 2010

NPA Leaves NYC For Good, Contest Promotions Still at Large

NPA wildposting removed

After speculating on NPA closing shop in New York and passing on a small portion of their illegal ad business to Contest Promotions, it was only right we get the story from a more credible source. We contacted the DOB, and a friend that will remain anonymous answered a few questions. First we would like to congratulate the DOB on their recent efforts in NYC. Wildposting and Sniping of construction sites has stopped almost everywhere and a large portion of NPA's ads have been whited out, their fate to be determined. We do hope that the DOB will continue to put pressure on Contest Promotions and not allow the meaning of 1st and 3rd party signage be manipulated for profit at the public's expense.

NPA wildposting removed
PublicAdCampaign: I am under the assumption NPA is shutting down in NY and leaving Contest Promotions to operate as many locations as they can pretend are legal. I posted my opinion on my site today and im curious if it is correct. Do you know anything about this, or do you know someone I can speak to who might know more about this?

Anonymous: Your assumption about them shutting down as NPA is correct. They recently applied to withdraw their OAC registration. While CP is a different corporate entity, there apparently is some overlap between the two. As of now, CP signs are still considered advertising, not accessory; and the DOB will not stay enforcement against such signs.

PublicAdCampaign: Lastly I must ask a personal question. Did the NYSAT civil disobedience project have any affect on this outcome, no matter how small or large. We are planning on going to other cities with similar projects and we would love to find some inspiration in these recent events.

Anonymous: Although coincidentally timed at around the same time, our enforcement efforts were unrelated to the NYSAT activities as wildpostings had been on our radar for awhile. After we began to control the large flex signage (as best we could), we moved on to the smaller, street level ads w/ an enforcement sweep in April 2009 that included over a hundred locations in Manhattan.

Honestly, you’d have to ask NPA if your activities had an effect on their operations, but I have to believe the bad press (and general disruption of some of their operations) had some effect.
Looking into NPAs business you can see what kind of "disruptions" this source might be talking about. For one, the head of NPA operations in NY is/was Rick Del Mastro. He is also the president of the New Era Democrats, an independent political association in NY since 1982. It would seem the NED mission statement contrasts too starkly with NPA's blatant abuse of our community for private interests.
"N.E.D. is a “family” of loyal, genuine friends and associates who embrace all types of participants in its activities, regardless of race, creed, national origin, age, sex or sexual preference. Our organization endeavors to attract persons of integrity who place the interests of their communities and of society above considerations of personal gain."
For whatever reasons NPA has closed shop, we are happy to see them go. We do hope that community pressure was able to expedite the process and allow the DOB to be emboldened by our support.

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Is NPA Shutting Down And Letting Contest Promotions Take Over?

Photo Shai Dahan, 37th & 3rd avenue

In the past few days I have noticed that in NYC a large number of NPA's illegal street level billboards have been covered with white paper. This comes in the wake of over 15 NPA ads in LA going white just over a week ago. The fact that the illegal billboards in NY and LA did not get new copy immediately after being whited out makes me think that this is NPA's doing and not the work of protestors. Why they are doing this I cannot be sure, but it should be noted that NPA's website is offline while their sister company, Contest Promotions, is still up and running.
18th street and 10th avenue
We all know NPA operates illegally in both cities so it might be expected that the recent removal of Fuel Outdoor ads due to their illegality, and the jailing of a landlord responsible for an illegal supergraphic in LA, has caused the company to shut down completely. If this were true, one would expect all of the companies illegal locations to be whited out, but that's not what we are seeing. In fact I have seen NPA locations around the city covered only sporadically. Sometimes from a single vantage point you can see one NPA ad that has been covered white and one that still retains copy. So what is going on?
I believe that NPA is finally shutting down and letting Contest Promotions takeover its illegal sign business. Through a twisting of words and meaning, the new business model adopted by Contest Promotions is attempting to legalize a portion of the illegal signage NPA was running. To understand what Contest Promotions does with NPA illegal signage in order to make them legal we suggest Ban Billboard Blight's post, "Contest Promotions Signs: Helping Mom & Pop Stores, or Creating Illegal Blight?"
If we are correct and Contest Promotions is taking over, only the signs that are placed on the sides of buildings where a viable business operates with an attendant on duty to man a bogus raffle box, would be legal. And indeed this is what we are seeing in most areas of NY. Locations like 19th street and 9th avenue (above) where there is a pizza shop open still have copy, while places like 37th street and 3rd avenue, which appears to be office space, have gone white.
Another way to tell if the NPA signage will likely fall into Contest Promotions hands under the assumption of legality, is by looking at the placards on all NPA signs. If the sign reads "Win these posters and other prizes inside, La Casa Del Pan, at 3802 Broadway avenue." or some other actual business, this sign will likely be taken by Contest Promotions. On the other hand, if the sign reads "Coming soon to this location, win these posters and other prizes inside." this location will not be viable as there is no business to operate their phony raffle boxes. From what we can tell those locations with a placard that refers to the business inside have retained copy while those without a valid business have gone white over the past few days.
Union avenue & Ainslie street
And if we are right about NPA going under and allowing Contest Promotions to takeover in a bid for legality, all of the wildposting locations around the city should be removed as Contest Promotions cannot justify this illegal activity. And sure enough, after the heavy rains last week I noticed many of the illegal wildposting locations NPA operated at construction sites and other locations around the city were either scrapped clean or postered white. It seemed that overnight many of the blatantly illegal wildposting locations were removed in a coordinated effort. I have seen people try to remove wildpostings from construction fences when they are dry and it is nearly impossible. I think NPA, knowing this, took advantage of the weather and removed illegal wildposting locations around the city knowing that they were going under and Contest Promotions was taking over.
14th street & 9th avenue
One last interesting thing we have noticed is that certain locations which could be operated by Contest Promotions under the guise of legality have still gone white. In the second image on this post you will see two NPA ads, one white, one with copy. They are both adhered to the same parking lot and one would assume they would both retain copy because there is a Contest Promotions raffle box at the parking agent house. It so happens that one of these locations is visible from the High Line park and because of this would be illegal under NYC law regardless of permitting, etc. We hope that this means that Contest Promotions will at least be operating within the confines of NYC law even if they are misconstruing the use of 1st party signage against all reason.
We can't say for sure that these NPA locations are without copy because of this transfer of ownership in an attempt to "go legal," but it seems likely. NPA has never been one to stand down without being pressured to do so. Recent litigation in San Francisco and a pledge from the city of NY to take the illegal public advertising issue more seriously, I believe has made it difficult for NPA operate so blatantly. We only hope that the efforts of hundreds of NYSAT participants, including those arrested by the NYPD for protesting the illegal signage, were in some way responsible for this change in direction and move towards a more commercial free public space.
We will keep you posted if things change, or our theory is proved correct. Until then we hope Contest Promotions looses its battle with San Francisco, and that their bogus scheme to keep operating a portion of NPA's illegal signage is proven to be just that, bogus.

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Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Street Art and Graffiti as Public Dialogue

We have long advocated that street art and Graffiti are a particularly potent force for public dialogue about issues facing our urban spaces. A recent post on Arrested Motion on the interaction between Pixadores and commercial street artists in Sao Paolo helps prove the point. According to the post, some Paolistas are angry that the city is funding beautification projects while the cities poor are overlooked. Taking this issue to the streets they defaced a city funded mural project with the following sentence. “R$ 200,000 in makeup, and the city is in calamity.” In doing so they have created an important dialogue about who the city looks after in a very visible way. Sadly their commentary was removed immediately as it was clearly not to the cities liking. I do hate to see such beautiful work buffed like this but I am happy to see that conversations through public works continue to push important social issues.

VIA Arrested Motion

Proving that tensions between graffiti artists and street artists are not just a phenomena of the western world (see banksy vs. robbo),Pixacao artists in Sao Paulo have defaced a mural by Os Gemeos, NUNCA, NINA, Finok, and Zefix. They are probably angry that the mayor of Sao Paulo, after creating the project “Clean City” in 2006 (which erased much of the illegal graffiti) is using public funds for commissioning legal writers and famous street artists. This all at a time when the government is perceived by them as doing nothing to help the poor communities that were flooded after 30 days of non-stop rain, yet the mural was all cleaned in the same night, by a huge team of City Hall by using sponges and hydraulic cranes. [More Here]

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Friday, March 19, 2010

The Mad Men of Los Angeles

Christine Pelisek has written an incredibly articulate article on the nature of LA's illegal outdoor advertising problem. She spoke to us and included the Weave It! piece we did while out in LA not too long ago. The one thing I would note is that while illegal signage is problematic, it is the use of public space for commercial interest that is really the issue. We should remain aware of this and not give up once illegal signs are removed. Eventually we should take after Sao Paolo and ban it all, period.

The Mad Men of Los Angeles
Living the good life, thanks to the big profits from illegal outdoor advertising

by Christine Pelisek

Supergraphic multimillionaire Barry Rush couldn't have been pleased to hear a few weeks ago that Los Angeles City Attorney Carmen Trutanich had taken the audacious step of jailing a compatriot in arms, a Hollywood landlord who, for an undisclosed sum, cut a deal with a shadowy firm that draped an illegal supergraphic around a historic Hollywood Boulevard building. [More Here]

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Eddie Colla Hits LA Hard

Eddie Colla, a participant in the recent Manifest Equality exhibition out in LA, just posted this video to Vimeo. In it you will find shots of the show but more importantly, Eddie taking out a slew of illegal NPA ads in LA. I find this to be a wonderful example of proper use of public space. These messaging boards normally run the gamut of terrible corporate ad campaigns as evidenced by the poster for Repo Men, but their potential to be used to promote public concerns is exemplified in Eddie's recent activities. How incredible would it be if these spaces were typically used by the average citizen to express their concerns on pertinent social issues like gay marriage.

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TGLQV? Unauthorized Public Advertising in Madrid

Everyone, I'm so sorry I have been slow on the site updates. Things are a bit crazy at PAC with lots of huge upcoming projects. Can't wait to clue everyone in. Until then I have been speaking to Alberto De Pedro in Madrid about outdoor advertising, street art, and finding a way to make a NYSAT project happen on Spanish soil. He is a fantastic artist and I highly suggest looking into his work.

The video below shows one of the actions of the TGLQV? project, which I'm told has had many artists' participation over the years. If I am correct this specific installations was done by NEKO.

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Vancouver Transit Ad Re-appropriation Project

We were just made aware of what sounds like a fantastic project run by Jerm IX and Vegas in Vancouver. It's a pretty simple idea, you send them artwork (standard formats) and a team of participants will put up your work in the Vancouver transit system. V-TARP, which stands for Vancouver Transit Ad Re-appropriation Project, "is intended to reclaim that highly sought after mindspace used by corporations to communicate with the public."

Participants are encouraged to send work in the next month to kick start the project with bang, but submissions will be taken indefinitely. I am told works should be 283mm high and any width from 200mm-800mm and should be submitted on 80lb. card stock. A photo document of your installed piece will be posted to a VTARP Flikr page, and once the project is rolling a blog page dedicated to the updates and progress will be rolled out. Any other questions you might have can be answered by a V-TARP participant at this email address. VanTARP@gmail.com.

We are always excited about a large scale work like this. We know it takes an immense coordinating effort and a good deal of risk taking for those carrying out the action. The upside is you can create a much bigger dialogue about who has the right to use public space in this way. While the actions of one person might be seen as that of a vigilante, the actions of many become a protest. because of this I think large scale projects like V-TARP encourage a conversation around the issue of commercial/public use of our shared environment. Questions about how using public space for commercial messaging might affect the public's use of that space become something to talk about, and that can only bring good as far as I am concerned.

We will definitely be sending work to Vancouver and suggest you do the same. They have told me they can handle a large number of submissions and that the project is open to everyone. If you do decide to send something, feel free to give us sneak peaks of your works and tell us when they have gone up in Vancouver.

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The World Has Gone Mad And We Couldn't Be Happier

photo from Unurth

It seems these days residents are taking back their walls in growing numbers. In the past few weeks we have seen NPA's illegal ads in LA targeted by Eddie Colla, and unidentified residents resulting in the removal of over 20 billboards for public communications. And then there was this pinwheel project by an unknown artist in New York not more than a week ago. And now this recent image comes to us from Unurth with no one to lay praise on. Has the world gone mad or has the public taken its responsibility more seriously? It would seem the latter as NPA's illegal signage is being targeted ferociously. Now if only we would see the city respond to these actions in the appropriate manner and begin the removal of all NPA ad frames, or even better, their conversion to public messaging boards!

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Friday, March 12, 2010

15 Illegal NPA Signs Go White In LA






A friend and reader in LA, Stefan Kloo, just sent us images of 15 NPA advertisements that were whited out by an unnamed party recently. The last image, which has a "free humanity" stencil sprayed onto the blank billboard makes me think this wasn't the city of LA cracking down, but a public protest of the illegal signage similar to the NYSAT project. If anyone has any info on this matter, please tell us what you know.

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City's slow enforcement of billboard ban

The article below was just sent to me after a quick Facebook communication with Eddie Colla. Eddie's reasoning behind using the streets for his work is incredible and should be checked out here. The article, penned in 2007, juxtaposes San Francisco's history of political posters with what was at that time a rampant increase in illegal postering by our good friends at NPA. From what I understand, SF has been gaining more and more control of their illegal advertising issues through the hard work and dedication of a few people at the Department of Public Works, and other non-profits like San Francisco Beautiful. Proposition D, the privately crafted, pro-billboard measure was decisively defeated at the polls in November of 2009, and shows SF's continued interest in keeping its streets advertising free.

Commenting on the difference between corporate use of public space versus artistic use in the form of political and socially minded postering, Workman of SF beautiful says, “I prefer that activist posters go up on a designated community board,” and added, “but there’s no way that one political artist can create as much visual noise as the corporate street teams who seem to transform a neighborhood over night.”

To me this is always something we must refer back to when deciding who has access to public space. We want to see advertising leave the public environment, but this does not mean we want to limit the public's use of that space. This may seem hypocritical but it is not. Individual use of our public environment is a way for residents to communicate with one another. If those communications are put forth by individuals, they do not have the ability to overwhelm our public thoughts in the way that corporate advertising intends to.

VIA El Tecolote
written by obynn Takayama, Nov 15, 2007

In the 1970s and ‘80s, political posters filled the Mission District’s urban landscape. Juan Fuentes started making posters because he said it democratized art. “The power of art is its ability to distribute information. Poster making is more immediate than oil painting, which could take months to finish. So the message could reach more people, faster, with posters.” [More Here]

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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Who Dunnit?


The first photo is taken by Luna Park of a Weave It! piece I installed a while back. She contacted me after seeing this recent installation of pinwheels, wondering if it was my work. It is not and I would love to know who is responsible for this wonderful piece.

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Monday, March 8, 2010

It Was An Advertisement For The History Channel

A few days ago we thought we had come across some phone booth takeovers. Alas we were wrong and it was only a History Channel advert. Good job guys.

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‘Clean City’: São Paulo Scrubbed of Outdoor Ads

It isn't news that Sao Paulo has been outdoor ad free since 2007. What I found interesting is that surveys had found an incredibly agreeable public.
"While advertisers weren’t too happy about the law – $8 million in fines were levied against those who dawdled in taking ads down, and Clear Channel launched an unsuccessful campaign to raise support for putting them back up – the citizens clearly approve. Surveys found that at least 70% are happy with the change."
VIA Web Urbanist

Outdoor advertising is so ubiquitous in almost every urban setting around the world, it’s difficult to walk down a street, take an escalator or sit on a bench without getting slapped in the face with one product or another. But the city of São Paulo, Brazil is like an advertising ghost town: all of its billboards stand oddly blank and empty. [Full Article]

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

Now You See Them, Now You Don’t: Fuel Outdoor Signs in L.A. Coming Down

In an unusually progressive move by an outdoor advertising company, Fuel Outdoor has begun removing signs in New York, and now LA, reports BBB. Of course this isn't some magnificent act of altruism but the result of a lengthy legal battle which finally ended in a decision against the offending company. We thought the signs might stay up despite the supreme court decision but the Fuel obviously knows better. Now what to do with all the empty frames they will leave behind on structures where removal might take some real elbow grease?

VIA Ban Billboard Blight

Fuel Outdoor, the rogue sign company that failed to win a lawsuit challenging the city’s right to ban new off-site advertising signs, has begun taking down the movie-poster style signs installed without permits in a number of locations. Whether the New York-based company intends to remove all its estimated 200-plus signs is not known. [More Here]

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Friday, March 5, 2010

Guest Post For Vandalog

RJ of Vandalog asked me to weigh in on a recent Banksy piece in Notting Hill that treads a thin line between advertising and art. We have mixed feelings about Banksy, and thought the whole thing had more to do with how we use our public space than the infamous street artist.

You can read my full response [HERE]

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Eddie Colla-NPA Advertising Takeover

VIA Arrested Motion

Looks like one of the artists in the recently opened Manifest Equality exhibition decided NPA's illegal advertising needed better content. Arrested Motion was there to catch all of the action.

"As an added bonus, AM got the opportunity to accompany Manifest Hope/Equality artist Eddie Colla as he blanketed Hollywood with his Anti-Prop 8 propaganda. Check out the full pictorial recap of the show and the streets after the jump."

Oddly, I was not aware of Eddie Colla's work. They explain it like this...
"There is a visual conversation that takes place on the streets of urban environments. This conversation is dominated primarily by advertising and utilitarian signage and assumes passive participation. Whether invited or not I am going to participate in this conversation. Public spaces were never intended to be coated from top to bottom with photos of consumer products. These spaces should, in some manner, reflect the culture that thrives in that space.

Some people view what I do as vandalism. I assume that their objection is that I alter the landscape without permission. Advertising perpetually alters our environment without the permission of it’s inhabitants. The only difference is that advertisers pay for the privilege to do so and I don’t. So if you’re going to call me anything, it is more accurate to call me a thief."

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TankVertising In Bushwick

VIA Animal New York

Ad Creep Update time. New Yorkers are already assaulted daily by ads in motion on buses, both MTA and tourist, taxicab tops, pedicab sides, panel trucks, even the occasional skywriting stunt. Well now, Media-N-Motion (site under construction), apparently a Los Angeles company, wants to stick ads on loud as fuck tanker trucks and send them rolling through New York City neighborhoods—that won’t generate any complaints! Let’s think of some possible fitting advertisers.

The Tank. Beer! (”Get tanked this weekend!”). Actually any alcohol brand. The New York Liquidation Bureau. Uh…

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Wednesday, March 3, 2010

California Mural Madness-Phil Lumbang on John Stossel


We happened to be in LA for the taping of this Fox News section and were on site when the neighbor across the street who initially complained, decided to weigh in on what he called a violent and obnoxious mural. Odd thing was the guy was sporting a t-shirt that read something about anarchy and was drinking tea out of a sex pistols God save the queen mug. How Bizarre!

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Anonymous Phone Booth in NYC

I found this image on my way to the studio today. I'm not positive it is the work of an anonymous artist but the lack of copy and strange subject matter makes me think so. If anyone knows who did this, please get in touch.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Digital Billboards, Diversions Drivers Can’t Escape

Did you know that nationwide there are 450,000 billboards? I'm assuming this number only includes free standing signs on highways and other roadways and that it does not include billboards in cities that are affixed to the sides of buildings and other similar derivations. The article below from the New York Times speaks about this important issue the country is now facing as digital technology becomes more affordable for outdoor advertising companies. The question of whether or not digital signage is a safety hazard is a hot topic, and cities across the country are weighing in as a precedent has yet to be set. As far as we are concerned this is a moot issue. What is more important is the right this type of signage has in our public in general. As for the safety issue and digital billboards' tendency to be more distracting than traditional signage, we think this is a pretty easy call. If they werent more attention grabbing, outdoor advertising companies wouldnt be paying immense amounts of money to erect these huge television screens and advertisers wouldn't be paying the 600% markups associated with this type of technology. Remember the whole point of advertising is to grab and hold your attention in order to get you to do something you might not otherwise do, period! There is no debating this fact.


VIA The New York Times

Safety advocates who worry about the dangers of distracted driving have a new concern beyond cellphones and gadget-laden dashboards: digital roadside billboards. These high-tech billboards marry the glow of Times Square with the immediacy of the Internet. Images change every six to eight seconds, so advertisers can flash timely messages — like the latest headlines, coffee deals at dawn, a cheeseburger at lunchtime or even the song playing on a radio station at that moment. [More Here]

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Businessman held on $1-million bail in supergraphic case

The LA times is reporting that a businessman was arrested and is being held on $1-million bail for posting an eight-story movie advertisement in Hollywood. It is about time arrests became an integral part of dealing with the perpetrators of crimes against the public. There may be issues with safety in regards to supergraphic signs but no one addresses the issue of our collective public health. On a daily basis commercial messages assault the senses, steal valuable space in our minds, and manipulate the public interest to fit commercial desires altering the very fabric of our society. This makes all advertising in public a crime as far as I am concerned and it should be met with the appropriate police response.

Businessman held on $1-million bail in supergraphic case


In a dramatic escalation of the war against illegal supergraphics in Los Angeles, authorities have jailed a businessman accused of posting an eight-story movie advertisement on an office building at one of Hollywood's busiest intersections. [More Here]

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Interview For Illegalsigns.ca

Our good friend Carolyn Tripp at Illegalsigns.ca 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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      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