Brandalism

fort lauderdale branding and design blog post - Banksy

Do you ever feel that almost every square foot of the civilized world has been contaminated by corporate logos? I distinctly remember the moment when I realized corporate branding was everywhere. It was at Disney World when I was about 11 years old. Before that, Disney was this magical land of fun and I was oblivious to any of  the designated “Kodak” photo areas or “Presented by” logos. After I started noticing that everything at this magical land was sponsored by some corporate entity, I no longer had the suspension of disbelief I once had at Disney. In fact, I became almost obsessed with finding all the logos to prove what sell-outs Disney had become. I thought to myself, “They charge an obscene amount for a ticket into the place, do they really need sponsors too?” As a rebellious teen and young adult I was staunchly anti-corporation and therefore anti-theme park. Ironically, I became a graphic designer and now part of my job is to create logos and branding.

Most people are aware of the vast amount of branding “noise” that has become ever present in daily life. It creeps in everywhere. Even a day relaxing at the beach can become an advertising opportunity via an airplane dragging advertising signage through the sky. It seems nowhere is safe. Street artist Banksy discusses what he calls “Brandalism” in his book Wall and Piece:

“People abuse you everyday. They butt into your life, take a cheap shot at you and then disappear. They leer at you from tall buildings and make you feel small. They make flippant comments from buses that imply you’re not sexy enough and the fun is happening somewhere else. They are on TV making your girlfriend feel inadequate. They have access to the most sophisticated technology the world has ever seen and they bully you with it. They are The Advertisers and they are laughing at you.However, you are forbidden to touch them. Trademarks, intellectual property rights and copyright law mean advertisers can say what they like wherever they like with total impunity.

Screw that. Any advert in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. You can do whatever you like with it. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.

You owe the companies nothing. You especially don’t owe them any courtesy. They have rearranged the world to put themselves in front of you. They never asked for your permission, don’t even start asking for theirs.”

Artists such as Ron English, Kaws, Poster Boy and Princess Hijab modify existing advertising to shift its context and meaning. I am constantly amazed, amused and in awe of their work. Check out a few examples below or click here to see some billboard liberation examples from Vandalog’s blog.