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The Appropriated Poster Campaign

The Wooster Collective talks to Sean Woolsey about making advertising a little more inspirational. Sean...

The Wooster Collective talks to Sean Woolsey about making advertising a little more inspirational.

Sean Woolsey, the man behind the Appropriated Poster Campaign, transforms mediocre everyday outdoor advertising into something bold and meaningful. His messages are clear and concise. In the hopes of having the everyday bus rider in Southern California be inspired not to consume, but to be human, he removes, alters, and re-installs bus posters. We hope to have the opportunity to see them in New York City sometime soon.

WOOSTER: Why did you choose the subject matter you did?

SEAN WOOSLEY: Bus stop advertisements have always struck me as a dynamic and very public medium to work with. Most of my posters contain beautiful women, bold colors, and geometric patterns with a simple message. The subject matter changes with each poster, yet all are analogous and meant to provoke thought.

Why did you choose the specific placement?

SW: I consider the brevity of these posters' public life span when I select the placement locales. That being said, I tend to pick places that I (or a trusted friend) can monitor daily to see the lifetime of the poster. I place most of the posters at large intersections to maximize visibility and overall exposure to what the poster is saying. Lately I have been doing some more site specific posters that have a message that corresponds to the poster's locale. For example, a poster may say "Be Bold" next to corporate buildings where people are in surroundings that are predictable and lackluster.

W: What do you think your piece adds to or subtracts from the community?

SW: It definitely subtracts the amount of advertisements in a small way, which is nice, albeit not the point. I truly hope that it adds a collective positivity, vibrancy, and upbeat energy to all passersby. I hope the posters point for change for the good and that they inspire people to take action, stand up, and do what is right. I intend that people take to heart the message of each specific poster. If any of this happens I feel that the campaign has been accomplished my goal.

W: What type of reaction did you get from the community?

SW: Ostensibly, the reaction is a positive one from what I can tell. It is tough to gauge the response of most of the community, but any action inspired by the posters I would hope would be a good one. It would be great to hear peoples thoughts and reactions from this interview.

W: Is there a story about putting it up?

SW: Yes, absolutely. I guess that my manifesto sums it up:

"The Appropriated Poster Campaign is an ongoing experimental campaign to raise cognitive awareness and more importantly to inspire benevolent action that we often forget, oversee, or might be in opposition to our often hedonistic culture. The campaign is predominantly bus stop posters that I paint over and reinstall into their normal habitat with a new purpose. It also acts as an inherent social commentary in declaring a space more public than it was before."

W: What is inspiring to you now?

SW: Oh wow, so many things. I feel like inspiration is around every corner. Here is the short list: Architecture, nature, caffeine, traveling, JR, Swoon, Blu, David Ellis, Rauschenberg, poetry, music, and lastly the fictional character Howard Roarke in The Fountainhead.

To see more of Sean Woolsey's work, check out his website. Sadly, this will be the Wooster Collective's last post on GOOD, but please continue to see great street art at their site.

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