It seems no corner of Philadelphia is safe from the blight of bandit signs, which are plastered on utility poles and chain link fences across the city. From “Cash for Diabetic Test Strips” to “Junk Cars” to “Moonbounce Rentals,” these illegal advertisements keep appearing without consequences from the authorities.
The law prohibits bandit signs with a penalty of $75 per violation, but this has been very weakly enforced by the City. As we’ve told you before, a mere eight violations were issued in 2010. So far, concerned citizens have been the best defense against the signs, including the folks who launched BanditProject.org. The site is a place where users can map and track illegal signs in an attempt to hold the posters accountable, and it recently held a contest with a prize for the person who tore down the most signs.
But instead of tearing down signs, one artistic Newbold resident employs a different strategy: ruthlessly mocking them.
The street artist, who goes by the alias “Huggie”, selects his offending sign and takes it home. There he makes a few alterations before putting it back out on the street.
Thanks to Huggie, the sign that once read “I will buy your house in 7 seconds,” now declares “I will rob your house in 7 seconds.”
Some other examples of Huggie’s work include “Cash for Diabetic Kittens”, “Out of Shape? Try my Wife’s Cooking” and “I Have 300 Chickens to Buy a Wife Right Now.”
Huggie says he has been at it for about a year and has “remixed” about 20 signs, some of which he hasn’t posted yet. Huggie describes his work as “Guerilla Anti-Marketing.”
“I will put them up next to other bandit signs, I don’t know if people are offended or think it’s funny, but a few days later they will be gone but the other signs will still be sitting there,” Huggie said.
Huggie posts his work to his website GorillaUpskirts.com for posterity.
Huggie doesn’t expect his vigilante vandalism of bandit signs to discourage those who post them, but he does hope to get people’s attention and make them aware of the problem.
“I don’t like blight and trash and litter in the city and the fact that people accept it. Some people would say my signs are part of it, but I’m trying to get people to notice things in front of them,” Huggie said.
“But I also thought it was funny.”