The Classified Tackboard

Will the real graffiti artist please stand up?

Okay, I don’t need even need to elaborate what the problem is.

People in India use street art to prevent ugly tattered ads. It works very well, I would say. But what ends up happening sometime is that a few flyers still show up upon the renovated area after a while despite everything. This is often because of the advertising person’s apathy toward someone else’s hard work, and general ignorance that what they are doing is not appreciated by certain parts of society. But the worst reason is that at times, the thinking goes that if the ad goes on the good-looking art, it will then attract even more eyeballs. There is also some merit in the argument that ads help society function by connecting supply with demand, they are a necessary evil. The war continues, and while the scales are tilting, no one can really obliterate the other. So why cannot ads and art co-exist?

The intervention I have come up with is simple, but powerful.

Let there be plenty of dedicated spaces in every township of this country where people can legally put up whatever they want, but on the flipside, the fine for putting up any flyers on public infrastructure, especially of the sticky kind is bumped at least twenty-fold. Maybe the threat of a minor jail sentence (rarely enforced) would suffice as a deterrent. It is essentially a carrot-and-stick approach. Like an SEZ. Or the way a ‘ratri bazaar’ (food court that operates outside of sleep time curfew hours) in my hometown functions.

The crucial thing I have realized and what you should know is that most ads are of a temporary nature. Hence, a fresh one can overlap an expired one. Which does not happen in most cases. Flyers are posted next to each other until free space exists. They slowly catch grime and cobwebs, and then slowly fade, peel and tear away with the changing seasons. Parts of them remain stuck to the surface for decades.

  • It should be the policy of every municipality in India to have provision of such spaces at every bus stop, flyover pillar, tunnel / underpass, government buildings.
  • These places should have a soft pin-up surface or tiny hooks so that people do not have to use glue but instead can use pins, rubber bands, strings, thin metal wires.
  • Such spots should have a unified and recognizable visual identity by using a suitable font and color scheme. They can serve as location markers and milestones for travellers to instantly recognize where they are.
  • They can have various categories such as ‘wanted’, ‘political’, ‘social’, ‘buy, rent and sell’, ‘lost and found’, ‘services’, ‘events’ — and even ‘matrimonials’. Just like the classifieds section in our newspapers. Without a doubt, this will help pedestrians efficiently search for anything they are interested in. Even official government updates or police notices should be posted there such as changes to local laws or details about their events and programmes for an informed citizenry.

That’s it, see the difference for yourselves.

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Jack of all trades, master of some.

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Suhrd Joshi

Suhrd Joshi

Jack of all trades, master of some.

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