Sunday, June 16, 2013

In praise of public service graffiti

Not all graffiti is bad. Some of it does a public service, such as correcting bad grammar, making an important social statement or even helping traffic flow.
What follows are some examples of public service graffiti.

The Great Typo Hunt

Jeff Deck and Benjamin Herson, described as editors with no off-switch, formed the Typo Eradication Advancement League to correct misspellings and poor grammar on signs across the U.S. They chronicled their adventures in a book, “The Great Typo Hunt” (2010).
“Armed with markers, chalk, and correction fluid, they circumnavigated America, righting the glaring errors displayed in grocery stores, museums, malls, restaurants, mini-golf courses, beaches, and even a national park,” the book’s description says.

The Tutor Crowd

U.K.-based online tutoring service The Tutor Crowd created a Tumblr blog of its viral marketing campaign to bring English language education to the streets. It corrected poor spelling and grammar on graffiti around London and added a sticker for its service as a signature.

Guerrilla Public Service

In 2001, artist Richard Ankrom surreptitiously installed a new traffic sign over the 110 freeway in downtown Los Angeles. Frustrated by the lack of signage to point drivers to the I-5 North exit, Ankrom took matters into his own hands and crafted a replica directional sign and installed it. He called it “Guerilla Public Service” and hoped it would ease traffic congestion and perhaps save lives.
The sign was so authentic that Caltrans officials let it remain for more than eight years, even after it was revealed shortly after its installation to be an art project. It was replaced as part of a signage upgrade initiative in 2009.
See articles by LA Weekly and Good.

Stenciled Compass Project

In 2010, an unknown street artist began stenciling directional compasses on the sidewalks outside subway stops in Manhattan. The compasses likely proved helpful to many disoriented tourists and other New York City visitors.
See article by NYC The Blog.


An unknown street artist in Hamburg made a statement about an H&M ad campaign that featured photos of a model heavily altered with photo-editing tools. The artist affixed a Photoshop toolbar to billboards with the ad campaign.
See article by Brandflakes for Breakfast.

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