Social Question

AshlynM's avatar

How do people put graffiti on highway signs that are high above the road?

Asked by AshlynM (9348points) July 11th, 2014

I’ve always wondered how they even get up there in the first place. Do they use a ladder? I assume they work at night so as not to get caught but I still can’t believe someone driving doesn’t see them.

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29 Answers

pleiades's avatar

First you must ask yourself, how do highway signs get put on in the first place. The answer lies therein. **Hint** They definitely don’t close the freeway for sign replacement with a ladder!

Brian1946's avatar

I think the vertical support poles for those signs have attached climbing rungs.

CWOTUS's avatar

Here is a neat video (ten minutes or so, top of the page) that shows how you can do it with class, meaning way better than a can of spray paint.

majorrich's avatar

perhaps rappelling from the rail, or very clever upside down painting. either way I cant imagine it being a less than 2 man job

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Coloma's avatar

@CWOTUS Hahaha..that guy and his fade out ghost wave and glowing red eyes. What a nut! lol

sebb's avatar

I have seen them hanging from a bosuns chair tagging a freeway sign and I have called the police several times to report them, but they have told me they are too busy to respond. Which is kind of surprising since I called at 2 am and I had drove by a CHP a few minutes earlier just driving on the same freeway. All they need to do is catch a few of these vandals and throw the book at them and I mean make them pay restitution for ALL the damage they have caused and then give them about 5,000 hours of community service painting over others tags and show how their community service is going and show it on the nightly news. The more they catch the bigger the CREW would become and eventually these people would find the punishment is to harsh and put their talents to good use, like getting a job.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@sebb, it is a shame they take such a passive approach where you are. There are places where they are very aggressive with taggers, employing much the same measures you mention.
I have seen taggers feature in the news in a segment set up for just that issue. They show their photo, tell their offense history, what they were caught doing to get themselves caught, etc. They have a program which provides supplies to repair graffitti damage. They have funding set aside to offer rewards to people who report taggers.

All sorts of methods are used to tag on overpasses and signs affixed there. Rope, guys holding a ladder over the edge from above, as mentioned – the bosuns chair, Jacobs ladder, which is boards affixed between two ropes, easy to rool up for transport, easy to stash, easy to tie to the bridge rail and fling over. When I was in the Navy I painted over the side of my boat with a Jacob’s ladder. Easy peasy.
The main thing is come down from above.

LuckyGuy's avatar

@CWOTUS That guy is my hero! He saw a problem, researched the requirements, and took care of it. Wow!

SecondHandStoke's avatar


I’m so glad you posted this.

I had no idea there was video documentation.

Unfortunately when the sign was replaced Ankrom was too late to save his artwork from being scrapped.

The installation stood in place undetected for more than ten years.

The best art. It’s all about the process.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

I have mixed feelings regarding graffiti.

Yes, technically it is vandalism but it’s also an expression of creativity that can be quite moving.

When I moved to New York I was expecting to see fantastic quality art but have been disappointed.

I’m assuming that the quality in easily accessed areas is poor because artists are required to move quickly due to law enforcement . I assume more impressive works are visible in harder to reach areas.

With the exception of it’s transit system Atlanta has less aggressive anti-graffiti measures in place.

The result is carefully executed and impressive bodies of art.

Artists are supposed to abide by an unwritten code when it comes to installation location and size.

When it comes to simple tags I am often impressed by the determination, resourcefulness, creativity and fearlessness demonstrated.

The coolest graffiti I’ve seen has been in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, on Egypt’s relocated Temple of Dendur, courtesy of Napoleon’s troops.

Graffiti is inherently subversive. How can I not help but like it?

dappled_leaves's avatar

@SecondHandStoke Sounds like you would enjoy my city.

sebb's avatar

It’s not technically vandalism, IT IS VANDALISM! and if the offender want’s to express themselves through “their art,” they can buy or rent a space and paint “their canvas to their hearts delight,” but not at the expense of the public.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

I used to have a plain white box truck. I tried in vain to find someone who wanted to express themselves legally with a spot the owner was willing to share. NO takers. Any who talked to me wanted to be paid. It might have gotten someone discovered, and would have been fun for me. All I faced was greed.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers Seriously, greed? Would you approach any other type of artist with the “generous” offer of giving you work in return for exposure alone?

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@CWOTUS That video was a hoot. However, he was not tagging the sign. I have heard some people hand over the sign and tag upside down, I met a tagger who did that, but I also read in the local news of a young lady they found dead by an overpass, and by the paraphernalia they found near her and an uncompleted tag, they figured she fell from the overpass while trying to tag the side.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central I’ve always been surprised we don’t hear about such cases – that’s my first. There are tags in some very high/awkward/seemingly inaccessible spots here. They must take crazy risks.

Often, you can see the equivalent of a high-water mark on tall buildings – as if they must have been reaching (or more likely, hanging) down to get it done. It does make for simpler tags, but you have to admire the effort that goes into that.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@dappled_leaves They must take crazy risks.
They do. One reason the tagger I spoke with on several occasions said he took risk to tag those near impossible places was to have the tag survive longer. If the spot was easy, then eventually too many taggers would tag it and then the work would get painted over by Caltrans because the tags were trying to outdo each other to the point they were too noticeable; he called them ”cutty spots”, because eventually they get cut off (painted over). Getting high up on an overpass, smoke stack, water vat, etc. makes it harder to paint over by the powers that be, because the labor and time to get someone up there is often not time efficient, also harder for others to get up and over tag the area as well. His tag was a simple two-color tag but he said he even taught himself to tag left-handed so he can tag no matter which arm he had to hang from, when he wasn’t tagging with someone else who would hold the bungee while he hung upside down to get the side of a bridge or tall overpass. I forget why he said he took such risk, but part of it was to have the tag where it was not supposed to be but where many people would be forced to see it.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Hypocrisy_Central Yeah, I figured it had to be because they’re highly visible, yet not easily painted over by authorities or vandals. It makes a kind of challenge.

Bungee, really? I would have worried about the effect of bounciness on the finished product. :P

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@dappled_leaves Bungee, really? I would have worried about the effect of bounciness on the finished product. :P
The springiness only really happens if you throw yourself over the side, I guess, easing yourself over I don’t think you create enough inertia to bounce that much, they use ropes too, as well as ladders tied to ropes or modified to hang over the side; to get that tag, they get creative.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

@dappled_leaves, actually, yes. There are lots of writers out there submitting for free every day just hoping to get exposure. Ameteur night at clubs improvs, etc. Such is the life of an artist. I offered to buy the supplies. I just figured people who have nowhere to paint except trains and business walls where they are uninvited might make use of an available space that would get seen and not get them into trouble. I didn’t go to Earl Schaub and ask for a free paint job. I was offering an opportunity to unseen, unappreciated artists.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers The professional writers and photographers who I know pretty much take this attitude on the matter of working for free.

Jonesn4burgers's avatar

Professional? Weren’t we speaking of graffiti here? I feel like you are searching for some way to attack me here. I never spoke once of professionals, they are already known. I specifically said ameteur’ I was being good hearted enough to offer a free canvas. If your work has price tags on it, then great, you have an audience that appreciates you. You don’t need anything for free. I wasn’t looking for a freebee from a professional. I can’t imagine how much more plainly I can put it. NO PROFESSIONALS WERE SPOKEN TO BY ME. I ONLY WANTED TO OFFER AN OPPORTUNITY TO SOMEONE WHO’D NEVER HAD ONE, LIKE AMERICA’S GOT TALENT, DUH.
I didn’t go to your link, because I don’t care.
I wouldn’t ask Steven King to write a free book for me, or the famous wall artist in the UK to paint my bedroom for free. I was offering an opportunity, and I got a shit reaction for it. I hope anyone who paints where they weren’t invited does prison time, because art shouldn’t be imposed where it isn’t wanted.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@Jonesn4burgers I simply can’t imagine how you got a “shit reaction”. Baffling.

SecondHandStoke's avatar


Dying for one’s art.

That’s ‘CORE.

This humble slaptagger is impressed.

hearkat's avatar

[Mod Says] Moved to Social with OP’s permission.

SecondHandStoke's avatar

^ This is one of the reasons I put all my questions in Social, even the serious ones.

Sure, I’m interested in real answers but I’m also interested in a user’s individual flair.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

^^ Another one bites the “General Dust”.

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