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The Bad Thing about Billboards

Let’s try this again, in a more safe manner…

Billboards are ugly.


Thanks to Valon for the topic.

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ARCHIVE ID 2056 FILED UNDER Miscellaneous
PUBLISHED ON Aug.24.2004 BY Armin
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Armin — You were a bit too fast on the gun there!

For those who missed the thread, it was an essay on the Orlando, Florida landscape just before and after Hurricaine Charlie. The resulting comments accused him of insensitivity.

My comments, sent just as Armin pulled the thread:

As someone who owned a Miami Beach apartment that was damaged by Hurricane Andrew, I can understand where Valon is coming from.

We were in New York when it hit and couldn't get a flight or a room for about a month after the storm. When we finally arrived, we unlocked our front door, stepped in, and looked up to see the sky. It had been raining in the apartment for a month and everything was moldy, soggy and rotting. The downstairs neighbor had mushrooms growing in their carpet, the building smelled of mildew, and those without anywhere else to go were sleeping out in the open.

The scene for months afterward was a scene straight out of the wild west. Insurance adjustors, shady roofing contractors and prostitutes came from all over North America to ply their trades. It was not uncommon to see two cars pull over to the side of the road, drivers get out, reach for the nearest coconut and start assaulting each other. We often heard how people would make up damage that didn't happen just to get insurance money for home improvement.

Human nature in all its horrible, fascinating glory.

Among this tribulation I was often struck how nature improved on man's design or gave its critical commentary. In the town of Homestead, there was a BEST store; a chain famous for facade architecture by SITE. http://www.designcommunity.com/cgi-bin/mlk?http://www.thecityreview.com/leblanc.html" target="_blank"> (scroll down this page) This particular storefront was intentionally designed to look like it was crumbling and one couldn't know where SITE ended and Andrew began. At that moment the grotesque, the aesthetic and the previous week's frustration boiled over and I laughed my ass off.

On Aug.24.2004 at 12:28 PM
Valon’s comment is:

Armin, thanks for the bail ~~

PS: My appologies to everyone that I offended or insulted with my so-called essay. Now, I wish Charley paid me a visit while writing it...

On Aug.24.2004 at 12:52 PM
Armin’s comment is:

> Armin — You were a bit too fast on the gun there!

Meh… It was bound to get ugly, fast.

As recommended reading (relating to billboards), I'd suggest Rick Poynor's latest entry on Design Observer.

On Aug.24.2004 at 01:03 PM
marian’s comment is:

Perhaps the topic could have been more about how the forces of nature change graphic design: posters washed out in the sun, flyers ripped and covered on telephone poles, signage frayed and peeling, billboards blown over by hurricanes ...

On Aug.24.2004 at 01:24 PM
Brady’s comment is:

I am on vacation but thought I'd check in.

Based on Val's and Armin's comments I feel like I missed out on something big.

It must have been bad since it was pulled...

I mean REAL BAD since I have seen some outlandish and maliscious insults and virtual fisticuffs on Speak Up that were not nipped in the bud.

Being that I am from the NC coast where billboards and hurricanes abound, I am feeling quite a jones for knowing what was said prior to the hook being wielded.

Oh, and yes, billboards are ugly in any setting.

Unlike architecturally complimentary signage and wayfinding, billboards do nothing to enhance the landscape. That goes for those corplast placards that litter the roadside hawking restaurants, diets, and housing developments as well. Locally, it seems that as long as you are not putting them in the right-of-way or someone's yard you can put as many out as you want. This is the result of an effective use of some loophole while not having to pay for outdoor advertising.

On Aug.24.2004 at 01:55 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

>Perhaps the topic could have been more about how the forces of nature change graphic design: posters washed out in the sun, flyers ripped and covered on telephone poles, signage frayed and peeling, billboards blown over by hurricanes ...

Ahem... Marian...

On Aug.24.2004 at 01:59 PM
Tan’s comment is:

I don't hate billboards. I don't love them either, but It just depends on the context and individual circumstances.

In urban settings, billboards are just part of the landscape. Like McDonald's arches, freeway signs, parking garages, etc. Whether or not they are a "blight" depends on how well they're designed and the wit or stupidity of the messaging. To me, ugly architecture and strip malls are just as visually offensive, if not more.

In non-urban settings, billboards definitely become more conspicuous, more out of place, more offensive. Few would disagree with that. 'Course, some rural highway billboards can become landmarks — trusted signposts on frequently traveled interstates. They become endearing part of the American landscape, like the dinosaur billboards advertising Texas' Natural Bridge Caverns, or the "Free 72oz Steak Truckstop Diner" billboards near Amarillo. But it's the exception rather than the rule.

And then, there's places where they get out of hand. Places where there are more billboards than buildings, almost outnumbering the trees. Usually, it marks the outer territory of popular tourist destinations, like Orlando, Branson, Reno, the Wisconsin Dells, Victoria BC, and large outlet shopping meccas in the middle of nowhere all over the country. Those instances of billboard overdose are unfortunate, but are probably an accepted penance of towns and cities that depend on tourism.

I'm not sure if there's supposed to be a solution to this discussion. Or is it just supposed to be a group condemnation?

On Aug.24.2004 at 02:13 PM
Greg’s comment is:

Not really my place, but I chose to elaborate for the benefit of Brady and the others who will wonder just what the hell was so bad that it had to be removed and replaced.

Valon wrote a piece about the crappy design of billboards, especially in the Central Florida area, nost notably Orlando, and how they were ruining his vacation. Apparently (and unfortunately) his vacation began slightly before Hurricane Charley, however, and many of the aforementioned offending billboards were knocked over, allowing a small bit of enjoyment in an otherwise completely wrecked vacation. Many people, I think due to certain choices in wording, took slight offense to the trivialization of the hurricane, citing its destructive path and human toll, and not really focusing on the purpose of the discussion, to talk about crappy billboards.

Hence the subject and body of this post.

If I screwed any part of this up, feel free to correct me.

On Aug.24.2004 at 02:15 PM
Valon’s comment is:

Many people, I think due to certain choices in wording, took slight offense to the trivialization of the hurricane, citing its destructive path and human toll, and not really focusing on the purpose of the discussion, to talk about crappy billboards.

Greg, that was great explanation of the essay. I couldn't possibly explain it better myself. Cheers ~~

On Aug.24.2004 at 02:22 PM
Josh’s comment is:

I hope Valon reposts his essay with a rewrite so we can start discussing his point and not why he yanked the original.

On Aug.24.2004 at 03:00 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

Many billboards are ugly. Agreed. I suspect it's for the same reasons that many local 30 second TV spots are ugly; you buy the time or space and the design and production get thrown in for nothing. Hard to overthrow that model.

As for the controversy... nothing here but respect for Valon. He's man enough to admit a mistake and sends out personal apologies as well. In my book, his character was never an issue.

We're all learning as we go. Salute.

On Aug.24.2004 at 03:08 PM
justin powell’s comment is:

pretty slick bilboard designed by build.

(link from newstoday)

i do have to agree though, a majority of billboards are ugly - especially here in kansas/missouri. bad type and pixilated real-estate agents all over the place.

On Aug.24.2004 at 03:20 PM
marian’s comment is:

Ahem... Marian...


On Aug.24.2004 at 03:48 PM
M Kingsley’s comment is:

Here's a fun juxtaposition.

On Aug.24.2004 at 03:55 PM
Valon’s comment is:

I hope Valon reposts his essay with a rewrite so we can start discussing his point and not why he yanked the original.

Josh, I might consider rewriting the essay at some point, however I will have to find a better choice of events/issues.


Cheers, Steve for kind words.

I like the quote you mentioned before ~

"A picture is worth a thousand words, but a story is worth a thousand pictures." I thought that hit the spot and made me realize.


...I suspect it's for the same reasons that many local 30 second TV spots are ugly;

I always wonder which firms design the local car-dealership ads [?!]

On Aug.24.2004 at 04:17 PM
Armin’s comment is:

The bad thing about billboards… is that you are shooting for the absolute lowest denominator. First of all, you have a huge audience, as in everybody that walks or drives by it, then if it's on a highway, well, people are going really really fast while eating a McMuffin or shaving or listening to books on tape, not to mention that the majority of people can't see very well. So, billboards have to really pop! (sounds like a cliché, but we worked on some billboards a few years ago and I can't count the times the client said "make it pop"). And how do you make billboards "pop"? Well, you make images big, type big, colors colorful and then it, magically, pops.

I have never ever seen a billboard I have reacted to positively. Not even those clever ones that get included in CommArts advertising annuals. Maybe a smirk, but that's about that. They are intrusive, obnoxious and seldomly well-designed.

But, there are few places as awe-inspiring as Times Square…

On Aug.24.2004 at 04:29 PM
Chris Rugen’s comment is:

Billboards are a mixed blessing, like all advertising. Have you ever been on a long car trip and a billboard lead you to food/gas/lodging? I know I have (though road signage often points to these things on major arteries anyway...). I'd probably prefer life without them, generally speaking, but unless you live in Maine, Hawaii, Alaska, or Vermont, they probably aren't going anywhere (speaking as a US citizen about my home country's tendency to put an ad on anything it can).

May as well try to make them as witty and attractive as possible then, I suppose. ::shrug::

How about outside the US? I know Switzerland specifies format standards for billboards/posters. Are there countries out there that specifically ban them?

On Aug.24.2004 at 04:50 PM
Hrant’s comment is:

"The poster is to art what rape is to love."


So I guess billboards are like gang-rape.


On Aug.24.2004 at 05:02 PM
Matt Waggner’s comment is:

A little grist for the mill (it's a bit long, but since we're missing an article now... Armin, feel free to chop this if yr so inclined):

The study indicated that "advertising devices" were visible to drivers on only about one-eighth of the Thruway's 1,100 miles of roadway; yet almost one-third of all accidents "attributed to driver-inattention . . . occurred on the one-eighth of the Thruway mileage upon which motorists were exposed to advertising devices."


The billboard industry can hardly plead innocence in the face of such indictments: its own manual, Essentials of Outdoor Advertising [...] states that billboards must compete for attention with "vehicular traffic, traffic signals or other outdoor designs. To counteract such competition every bit of the poster space must be made to work hard." Where there are no other "outdoor designs" that might distract the motorist (and, possibly, save his life) the billboard industry has a field day. "Away from the crowded printed page and overloaded airwaves," one of its advertisements stated in 1962, "your client's message always gets 'preferred position.' " In other words, you can't help being attracted (or distracted) by a billboard way out in the middle of nowhere—which may be a good thing for the advertiser but, as we have seen, somewhat less desireable for the consumer.


Although anti-billboard arguments are, at present, likely to be most effective when advanced on grounds of highway safety, the esthetic argument seems to be gaining adherents. This became evident during the Great Billboard Battle of 1958 referred to earlier, which was fought almost exclusively on esthetic grounds.

That battle was a memorable occasion. It was memorable because it represented the first instance in our history that the federal legislature faced up to the problems presented by the systematic "uglification" of the United States by one single-minded private enterprise. It was memorable, too, because after all the rhetoric had died down, the net result of this valiant effort was a feeble compromise.


The late Senator Richard L. Neuberger of Oregon, supported by other conservationists, proposed that the federal govermnets should keep billboards off highways constructed with federal aid. [...] And in the wings were the lobbyists for the billboard industry. Their arguments were somewhat lacking in imagination, considering that those who advanced them were supposed experts in the art of persuasion: "If our country is to be strong ... maintain its world leadership ... better public understanding of the honest principles of the free enterprise system," said one, sounding a bit dispirited. "An attack on one of our media could be an attack on all," said another, obviously in response to having one of his buttons pressed. "The ladies will be able to find their (parked) cars ... by recalling under what advertisement they left them," added a third, clearly in desperation.

Still, behind the scenes, the billboard lobby was beginning to play rough. Despite the sorry public showing of its spokesmen, and despite the wide support which the proposed billboard ban received in newspapers and magazines, President Eisenhower (a man of good will, and an amateur artist to boot) could only muster a helpless sigh: "I am against those billboards that mar our scenery," he said, "[but] I don't know what I can do about it."


Unhappily, the evidence before our eyes, every day of the year, in almost every square mile of this country, is proof that the effort, to date, has been almost completely inadequate. There are more billboards—some $1 billion worth—in the United States in 1963 than there were when Senator Ellender feared for America in March, 1958. There are more neon-lit hot dog stands, more garish bowling alleys, more glistening diners, more used car lots, more junk piles. "Yet each man kills the thing he loves," Oscar Wilde once said. Perhaps that is why we are so busy destroying this country.

From Peter Blake's book "God's Own Junkyard: The planned deterioration of America's landscape."

On Aug.24.2004 at 06:54 PM
Deanna’s comment is:

I agree...most billboards are a blight. But I have to admit that I love the Chik-a-Fila billboard with the cows. I just can't help it.

On Aug.24.2004 at 08:21 PM
Jason T’s comment is:

You must be down south, Deanna. And, yes, those cows crack me up too. I just got back from a tour of Alabama and Florida. Besides the crazy cows, I'm always amused by the string of bible belt billboards proclaiming Go to Church or Go to Hell in Helvetica bold, reversed from black. Then there's the ever popular Talk to me today. - God and down the road you're graced by Follow me. - God. And this one really brought a tear to my eye.

Who knew Big G had such a sense of humor?

On Aug.25.2004 at 02:41 AM
Armin’s comment is:

> Who knew Big G had such a sense of humor?

Who knew Big G wouldn't know about smart quotes?


On Aug.25.2004 at 08:25 AM
Gahlord Dewald’s comment is:

I live in Vermont. We don't have billboards. In fact, you can't build any sign or storefront that is visible from the Interstate. And when people do it (like Best Buy recently did in Williston VT... they submitted one set of plans for approval and then built something else) we fine the hell out of them and/or make them rebuild.

Everytime I leave VT I quickly get used to seeing billboards again and even enjoy the novelty (to me) of them. Sort of the haiku of graphic design (just to offer a conceptual alternative to lowest common denominator).

But when I return I am always glad to drive and actually see the landscape without the billboards.

I guess it comes down to me liking billboards as long as they're at your place, not mine.


On Aug.25.2004 at 08:32 AM
Deanna’s comment is:

Ah, yes...the bible belt. I happen to live in what is considered the buckle of the bible belt so I know all about God's billboard campaign.

The only thing better? Church signs. I've been collecting photos of them for some time now. My newest favorite: 3 nails + 1 savior = 4given. I'm awaiting a billboard of that any day now. :)

On Aug.25.2004 at 08:53 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

Whoa. I'm all disorientated. The thread is gone? Why bother replacing it then? So now we have a thread talking about the previous thread that was pulled? ;o)

BTW, the home page is messed up. Looks like you forgot to close your SMALL tag there Armin...

OK, as for good billboard use, the Walker has been commisioning artists to design a billboard in Minneapolis:


On Aug.25.2004 at 09:42 AM
Michael Surtees’s comment is:

I don't have a love/hate relationship with them billboards, it's like smog - consumers don't like it but they're probably not going to do anything about it. Lately I've been noticing a more insidious form of visual pollution - the banner flag. It's a thinly veiled attempt to celebrate something through sponsorship. A quarter of the space is reserved for the celebration message while the remaining three quarters of space is used up by the sponsor. It's getting out of hand where I live. They're everywhere and they aren't enhancing the environment at all.

On Aug.25.2004 at 09:59 AM
Anthony’s comment is:

Nay, billboards don't suck per se. They are typically unattractive, yes. Saying billboards suck is like saying TV sucks. It just so happens that so much sucky material is put on TV. But once in a while you see something worthwhile. I think the same ios true for billboards. Perhaps a truer statement would be that billboard advertising sucks. I agree.

That god billboard is priceless. Back in my hometown (where the dude was fired for heckling bush) there's a guy who has a big backlit movie-style marquee sign which usually contains a daily dime of religious wisdom ("don't let evolution make a monkey out of you," etc).

On Aug.25.2004 at 11:14 AM
DesignMaven’s comment is:

For many of the reasons my compadre TAN sighted. I don't hate

Billboards. Neither, am I in love with current day Advertising Biilboards.

Coming from an Illustration Background.

I Romanticize of the days when Billboards where actually Hand Painted.

Certainly would've love to been one of those Guys.

Let's not forget. Earliest form of Biilboard Art and Design was a Speciality.

Not for the Faint of Heart.

I've actually seen a landmark historically significant hand painted Coca Cola billboard restored.

Takes an enormous amount of skill.

On Aug.25.2004 at 11:17 AM
heather’s comment is:

In the neighborhood where I grew up in Chicago, there was an old green house, much in need of repair, located on an immensely busy street. The front yard was a plot of grass about 10' by 10', with a billboard pole directly in the center of it. The billboard stoop imposingly high about that house and displayed various ads throughout the years.

I remember passing that house in the car and on foot many times growing up, and I became obsessed with it. I kept wondering if someone lived there, and why they had a billboard in their front lawn. I would see lights on inside and strain to see the occupants, wondering if they recieved the profits of the billboard. If they did, why didn't they move, or at least fix up their house? If they rented, I wondered if their rent was extremely low, because who would want to live under a billboard? I wondered why the owners didn't tear down the house in the first place? I've always wanted to ring that doorbell and get the answers to all my questions.

If I had a picture of this priceless image of advertising imposing on our lives and landscape, I would post it for you all to understand. You would become obsessed as well :)

On Aug.25.2004 at 11:49 AM
Antonio Moro’s comment is:

I agree that billboard are generally ugly.

Some news from the marketing front:

It becomes to appear some "experimental billboards" that tries to integrate SMS (the Short Message System of mobile phones) with traditional billboards. The try is to create an "interactive billboard" and raise the urban experience...

At the beginning of this summer, Nike in NYC have lauched the "Operation 6453", a "treasure hunting game" (mmh I don't know if it's right that in english.. sorry as usual for my sucky english..) that stirs sms messaging with the search of 16 posters around the city..

Entrants must send a blank SMS to short code 6543 (NIKE) to receive registration instructions. At the registration site, a map will indicate the general location of the posters then an SMS short message sent by Nike to entrants will alert players to the cross streets of the latest posting.

Once players spot the posters, they send a short SMS message back to Nike which registers the time they saw the poster. The shorter the time between the poster's posting and players' SMS response, the higher the score.

There will be four postings per day. At the end of the four day period, the players with the highest scores will win a limited edition versi! on of Nike's Air Force-X MID designed by legendary NYC street artist, Stash. Runners up will have a chance to purchase the shoes at an exclusive pre-launch event.

If you are from NYC.. any comment on that?

check that: http://www.nike.com/operation6453/

more recently Interactive billboards designed by Ogilvy use SMS to give passers-by a chance to win a Ford Fiesta in Belgium.

The system works like this: you send an SMS using codes provided by the billboard. The billboard responds, telling the user to continue, and sends a return message with a question. Correct answers cause the billboard to react like a pinball machine - an "extra ball" is awarded (entered into the drawing for the Fiesta). Incorrect responses cause the billboard to "tilt."

check that: http://www.fiestafun.be/

and again..

A gardening supply firm set up a billboard at a train station in Germany. With one simple SMS message, the billboard activates an automatic sprinkler system, potentially soaking anyone passing by.

This and other SMS-us-to-do-something advertising is apparently starting to catch on in some places. While the people getting soaked in this example case may not appreciate the result, it certainly is engaging for those sending the SMS."

any comments on that?? In the future we'll all sit in front of billboards with our mobiles.. there are some bradbury here.. ;)

cheers from Italy (here we have only traditional billboards.. and we still read books.. eheh)

On Aug.25.2004 at 12:17 PM
Valon’s comment is:

Heather, I like your observation and the way you describe the house. I think I'd rather not see a picture of the scene. It makes me more curious to imagine what it would look like.

Yea, why would anyone have a billboard in front of their lawn? Did they pay their mortgage with the funds from renting the billboard? Who's idea it was in the first place to put a billboard in the front lawn? Did an advertising agent one day ring the bell and asked if they want a billboard in their front lawn?...So many questions I have ~ It's very intriguing.

On Aug.25.2004 at 12:25 PM
garrison’s comment is:

I'm way late weighing in here, but I believe many of you have missed the essential problem of billboards. It's not what is on them, it's what they block. I personally view the sky as public domain, and find anything stuck into it -- especially from someone trying to sell something -- distasteful. I could elaborate, but that's the essential arguement.

On Aug.25.2004 at 01:31 PM
Steve Mock’s comment is:

That's a great point of view, garrison.

However, I was just asking Dorothy the other day, "Where does the sky start?" I say right above the grass. She says the top of the tallest tree.

On Aug.25.2004 at 01:46 PM
Tan’s comment is:

One of my favorite billboards in Seattle is not actually a billboard, but a theater marquis in front of a landmark downtown adult theater called The Lusty Lady.

They're located smack downtown in the high-rent district, right across the street from the Seattle Art Museum. Their marquis is famous for its sexual double-entendres and puns, and is changed every week to reflect city activities and current events — like the example above, "Spied her, man" which was in conjunction w/ the opening of Spiderman 2.

Some of my past faves:

1. "Easter Legg Hunt" — posted during what else? Easter.

2. "American Booty" — posted the year Am.Beauty was up for the best picture Oscar.

3. "King Leer" — posted during a Shakespeare performance at the local Act Theater.

4. "God Breasts America" — during Independence day one year

People can submit phrases for the marquis, and many do, including lots of writers and ad execs in town. Winners get a free entry coupon and a Lusty Lady tshirt. You don't have to be a patron to appreciate the wit. For the record, I've never been inside, but I do want a tshirt.

On Aug.25.2004 at 03:59 PM
Armin’s comment is:

(I just remembered a comment relevant to this I made some time ago on Design Observer on yet another post by Rick Poynor regarding billboards — do I notice some sort of fixation?)

A couple years ago the mayor of Mexico City decided that billboards were uglying the city. A drive through any of the city's highways would assert that notion, as layers of billboards tower over buildings and scenery. Anyway, the solution? Well, why not bring the billboards down? So now, the latest public advertising trend has been placing smaller-sized billboards on the walls of houses that face major avenues. They installed billboard holders all over the city, specially in high-income neighborhoods. Houses that are worth over a million dollars are now adorned on the outside by advertisements and at night are illuminated by strong beams of white light. Imagine driving by [insert your city's high-end streets] and seeing gigantic ads placed at eye-level.

I asked my dad to take some pictures of this, they are not the best examples, as i wasn't there to art direct him but you'll get the idea. Go. (Excuse the lame presentation).

On Aug.25.2004 at 04:58 PM
Reno’s comment is:

I think Gossage makes some very persuasive arguments in his book. Some of his thoughts can be read here:


Just another reason he is one of my heroes.

Another major factor in the billboard debate is how the Highway Beautification Act has been twisted to allow even more offensive practices by the media companies. See a good article at the following link.


On Aug.26.2004 at 12:09 AM
Hrant’s comment is:

> the Highway Beautification Act has been twisted

Don't be so naive. New laws don't get "twisted", they are generally originally created to promote business in the first place, while superficially appearing to be pro-environment, or pro-Joe, or pro-whatever, simply to gain public approval. Notice for example how car pool lanes make things worse overall: they encourage virtually no improvement in behavior while taking away a lane or two for most people. Or even how freedom of speech is used to give the illusion of power to peons (and reduce the desire for action) while in fact mainsteam communication (read: brainwashing) channels are wholly owned by the powers that be. Or how "liberating" women to work and forcing public education translates to a more "productive" and servile populace. Take the children away from their parents as soon as possible, so you can teach them what you want - just like J S Mill wrote in the 19th century, back when there were still enough free-minded people who could sense the truth in his dark prognosis.

The sooner we all us stop believing them, about anything and everything, the sooner they will have to set us free.


On Aug.26.2004 at 12:31 AM
Reno’s comment is:

Quote Hrant: “Don't be so naive.”

Don’t be so condescending.

I’m not suggesting some conspiracy. When Lady Bird Johnson suggested that the highways and byways of rural America would be more pleasant without the proliferation of billboards, I’m sure she wasn't scheming to devise ways to enable media companies to run around chopping down offensive trees. Clauses inserted to the law by politicians (acting on behalf of business interests, naturally) essentially rendered the law ineffective at best. Business as usual.


On Aug.26.2004 at 12:48 AM
James Moening’s comment is:

Perhaps the topic could have been more about how the forces of nature change graphic design

When this happens, nature erodes a man-made image into natural aesthetic (obviously). Unless one risks becoming a performance artist, little is done to design for the eroded form. It would be silly: "Yes, you're paying 37 Gs for this. I can't wait until it gets sandblasted and no one can read it - and I have an excuse for fresh work."

Not to say that the eroded form isn't an attractive aesthetic. (Hardy's naturalism, fatalism, mortal sympathy and all that jazz.) I drive past an untilled plot of farmland each day. Through all seasons there stands a well-weathered billboard, more of a cultural artifact, really. In the autumn and winter I chuckle when the geese gather in front of it to warm their selves in the sun: Geese aren't the target audience!

I do wonder what the tally would be between jeers and applauds if a midnight marauder chainsawed some awful sore-thumb signs and billboards in pastoral places.

Fresh work!

On Aug.26.2004 at 01:16 AM
Jerry’s comment is:

This reminds me of the film Crumb when Robert Crumb is talking about all the power lines and street posts. Things we stick in the ground and then block out of our minds. We don't remember these things at all. To some degree, you can add billboards to that - unnecessary pole-sticking and self-gratifying structures that reinforce America's outdoor identity. On a practical level billboards are annoying, especially when you're driving and you get suckered into reading one and you've got to brake hard so you won't crash into the car in front of you. Billboards are dangerous.

I also like the idea that Marian suggested before, about nature's effect on visual ephemera. I love the effect that time, chance and nature has on such things and the ways in which they are changed. I love it even more when patterns hence design arises through these circumstances alone. If you look carefully you will find: Nature is the mother of design.

On Aug.26.2004 at 12:52 PM
Patrick C’s comment is:

Ignore this if it has already been said:

The main issue with billboards, and for that matter all non-direction signage, is the invasion of the private into the public. Billboards are erected on private property, but the objective is to be visible throughout the public space of highways and cities—the space that belongs to citizens and not to corporations. The result of this invasion is visual chaos and a cluttered, ugly environment.

I would like to see a lot of signs and billboards disappear. And I believe that smart bylaws could bring it about. Of course it would be difficult, but what a difference it would make.

On Aug.26.2004 at 01:14 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

the Highway Beautification Act

A wonderful example of oxymoronic laws in our country. ;o)

On Aug.26.2004 at 02:20 PM
jaywar’s comment is:

It's not the medium it's the design. If billboard designers were given more freedom to be creative and tasteful (I know, that's a bad word!) then perhaps there would be more billboard campaigns like the famous Bull shaped billboards in spain for El Toro. But instead of being considered as 2D planes inserted into landscapes, they're treated like over grown magazine ads with no consideration for context. Too bad—but they're expensive and sort of a backwater to begin with.

On Sep.02.2004 at 07:49 AM
paul’s comment is:

Billboards help businesses make sales which generate tax dollars which pay for public services. America a capitalistic country;if we eliminate billboards we are stopping free enterprise and our public services will be impaired. I have noticed that Historic Societies and people with too much time on their hands have been complaining about billboards. Without the taxes and increased sales by businesses these historic type groups would surely have fewer public supplied dollars. Control seems to be the order of the day from neighborhood restrictions to billboards. It is ok to build casles in the sky as long as you don't try to move into them. People leave billboards alone to do what they have always have done, generate additional sales for business. If you don't like capitalism, you might want to look at a relocation into a communist country; they only have billboards with their Dictator's image.

On Apr.27.2005 at 12:36 PM