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Corporate vandals not welcome

September 14, 2005

Following up on previous entries about corporate incursions into the street art world, there’s a new sticker campaign we’ve been noticing around downtown NYC. The stickers, reading “corporate vandals not welcome” are usually stuck over advertising stickers for a small circle of companies that are use the “hip” cachet of street art to try to brand their products as edgy or underground.
These companies — and more importantly the ad agencies that design their marketing campaigns — are parasitic and useless. They ride the wave of energy produced by thousands of artists working anonymously for no or little gain, and they drain that energy by cannibalizing its forms to sell products and values that have nothing to do with the movement they’re ripping off. And, what’s worse, the unchallenged co-existence of art & commerce in the street art movement cultivates and reinforces the worst tendencies amongst artists: self-promotion, slick & heartless design, a complete lack of content, easy outs & cookie-cutter derivatives, smug hipness.
Lots of folks are talking these days and no one’s saying all that much. Thumbs up to whoever’s putting these stickers up, just for calling bullshit. If you know who’s behind these, drop us a line at visual.resistance[at]gmail.com. Thanks.
Update: Momo writes in to alert us to something so wrong-headed and stupid it just makes my head spin. Ekosystem has a link to a new music video that uses clips of skateboarding street artists putting up stickers, all to the sounds of that pinnacle of streetwise urban rebellion: Bon Jovi. You know what? If you had told me a year ago that the words “Bon Jovi” would appear on this website, I would have burned my computer, moved to the mountains, and learned Esperanto.
Anyway: check out the Ekosystem board for link to the mind-boggling wrongness, and to join the ongoing discussion on street art & ads.

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6 comments on “Corporate vandals not welcome”

“They ride the wave of energy produced by thousands of artists working anonymously for no or little gain, and they drain that energy by cannibalizing its forms to sell products and values that have nothing to do with the movement they’re ripping off. And, what’s worse, the unchallenged co-existence of art & commerce in the street art movement cultivates and reinforces the worst tendencies amongst artists: self-promotion, slick & heartless design, a complete lack of content, easy outs & cookie-cutter derivatives, smug hipness.
Lots of folks are talking these days and no one’s saying all that much. Thumbs up to whoever’s putting these stickers up, just for calling bullshit”

Damn that is so harsh, and SO right on. If only something like streetartblows.com could have a critique like this!

Sorry if it sounds harsh, I was just walking around yesterday and really not feeling 99% of the stuff I was seeing, and this sticker was the only thing interesting enough to take a picture of!
I don’t agree with a bunch of what streetartblows guy says but he’s 100% right that a lot of the work going up these days is crap. And I think ad culture & hipster emptiness are two big contributing forces to that. Street art’s just an excuse to go to parties or a tool to sell some shit, right? Both contribute to a scene where no one talks about what’s being produced, no one questions anything, and everything’s celebrated equally whether it’s actually caring genius or just the newest useless doodle.

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