Brandalism is often defined as a clever mix of vandalism, graffiti and art that is created as a direct attack on the corporate branding’s effect on our landscape and society. I’ve been interested in the movement for a while mainly for a while and thanks to recent documentaries you will recognize some of the founders of this movement like British street artist Banksy and American artist Ron English. You known Banksy’s work from the documentary Exit Though the Gift Shop and I love too many of his pieces to name just one favorite. For Ron English I love his McSupersized painting and vinyl toys which are commentary on McDonald’s and Fat Tony which comment on Frosted Flakes cereals.
But the Brandalism movement recently took an interesting turn with 26 artists from 8 countries traveling across the UK for 5 days subverting billboard advertising. This project was the largest reclamation of outdoor advertising space in UK being installed over five days in one continuous road trip that covered the length of the country hitting 37 spots in 5 cities. The entire project was documented on their site and blog which you can read here.
Even as someone who works to build brands for a living I love this movement. I love it because I am not blind to the effects that brands can have on society for better or worse. I think that brand advertising has been one piece of a complex puzzle that has led to the consistent decrease in creativity in our society and that really pisses me off. I don’t like that I see more and more young designers who can’t do creative problem solving because their parents gave them the answer to every problem all their life. I don’t like that people are increasingly dependent to being spoon fed what they should think and take too much comfort in uniformity. You can easily see the trend when you realize that if deviate from that uniformity you get a label attached to you because even independent thought has to be categorized. It happens every day in small ways like because I don’t want to know what my dinner is going to taste like before I walk into a restaurant I get labeled as a foodie. I don’t want my news channels to tell me what I should think which gets you labeled a lot of different things depending on who you are talking to. And on and on…
We need movements like Brandalism that can take these popular brands and use them as a vehicle to wake people up to what is really going on around them. We need it because we are losing our creativity as a society and even though it is happening in small but consistent ways they are adding up to a big problem.