A Stencil Saved My Life

Did you know that Shepard Fairey’s first ‘Obey’ stencils happened by accident?

Haphazard, random and roving. You can see why detractors still think of street art in terms of anarchy and vandalism. But stencils can stop accidents.


Crosswalk memorial by DraftFCB Lisbon for Associação de Cidadãos Auto-Mobilizados.

These zebra crossing stencils ran in Lisbon 2 years ago.

Part memorial, part cautionary tale, they list the names of 137 pedestrians killed by cars with the line “1/4 of the victims of automoboile accidents are pedestrians”.

Zebra Crossing by thedlab on YouTube.

This feels pretty unique to me. There may be more and more cleanvertising spots popping up around cities these days, but you won’t get many clients to sponsor a sprayed stencil.

Wilder still that they could tamper with public signage. I like it.


DIY bicycle lanes by Urban Repair Squad, Toronto.

The Urban Repair Squad didn’t wait for their corporate handshake.

Taking guerilla action in response to Toronto’s sluggish municipal authorities, they’ve been creating bike lanes since 2005.  6 kilometres of bike lanes.

le depart by NewKingsMJ on YouTube.

So hands up. Most of these get scrubbed by authorities before long. But surely we can recognise the noble gesture?

If you read this blog much you’ll know I like this kinda artivism sh*t. And I believe it’s getting better. More utilitarian. More involved. It’s producing solutions in a way that 2.0 does. Hit and miss, but unabashed and devotedly social.

Take a peek at the CCA Tools for Action site for more inspiration.

Update & Related:

Urban Repair Squad on their latest intervention: bike-friendly signage.

Bike lanes on pedestrian crossings in Japan.

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