In a reinvented, neo-Dada sort of way, Poster Boy's on-site mash-ups appropriate advertising imagery to create subversive posters in very public spaces--the NYC subway system. I first came across Poster Boy on Gawker, where they noted how good vandals were becoming. After FFFFOUNDing one of his images, the artist emailed me, acknowledging my interest with a link to his Flickr account. He agreed to a short email interview, which follows.
MN: So first of all, I'm interested in your process. Are the mash-up posters done at the site where they're posted? Also, how do you arrive at a certain corporate advertisement and decide how it will be combined with another/collaged/deconstructed? Are these things that sort of occur to you through your own commuting? Or do you have certain ideas before you visit a station?
PB: Always on site. One subway station/platform at a time. It takes between one and three posters to create a piece. On average it takes about two minutes to make a piece. the complex compositions can take about 10 to 15 minutes. Background and foreground colors, font/scale of text, logos, size and position of characters, etc., are all things I consider when combining posters. I try not think too hard in order to keep it as spontaneous as possible. Growing up poor has taught me to improvise and be resourceful. It's amazing what one can do with a 50 cent razor. They're mostly done while commuting to and from school, home, and work. Some days I'll get off one or two stops before or after my stop in order to use fresh posters.
How long do your pieces stay up before they're taken down/replaced?
Some pieces are taken down immediately. Some, if they're done really well, will stay up for a couple of weeks because the MTA workers don't notice the difference.
Can you explain your choice to remain an anonymous/elusive artist of subversive street art?
I try to remain anonymous/elusive, contrary to what some people have said, for three reasons and one of them is definitely not because of Banksy. One, what I do is pretty illegal. Two, because of Cindy Sherman. Her work addresses issues of identity in and out of the realm of art. I'm addressing issues of identity through my many aliases/personae. Poster Boy is just one of the identities that I show and create under. The last being that I don't want just one person to be Poster Boy. I'm hoping this trend of poster art snowballs into a movement for many people. No authorship. No copyright.
What led up to this type of work? What were you doing before you were Poster Boy?
It started with me not having money or a place to paint for a while and wanting to connect with people in NY. I love public art, but I couldn't bear to pick up a spray can or wheat paste. So I figured the subway is a good place to do cheap art that appeals to masses.
What was the thing you saw, the experience you had, that gave you the ambition for poster mash-ups?
I'm not the first to mess with posters. I've always noticed torn posters and Sharpie art in the subway. I wanted to combine the two. By using the ready-made imagery/text I'm able to subvert these corporate advertisements and use them to my advantage. People have done subway poster art for years, but I definitely upped the ante in NY.
Do you see this kind of work as a full realization of your style/creative vision? Or do you have bigger things in mind? Or is that even besides the point?
I guess on some level it's a realization of my work. Appropriation of images, icons, and symbols to the point where I've created many functioning personalities in the art world. I guess it's my response to the myspace culture we live in.
I'm always creating. As far as Poster Boy is concerned I'd like to make a book at the end of '08 from the before and after poster pics. I'd also like to include all the publicity Poster Boy has received. The proceeds, after paying for materials, would go to some foundation.