Adbombing: A Crowdfunded Project to Feature Miami Artists on Local Billboards

Billboards like these could soon be covered in art, if Adbombing succeeds.
Billboards like these could soon be covered in art, if Adbombing succeeds.

From TV commercials to bus stop posters to the pop-ups on this very site, you're inundated with advertising about a billion times a day. But Josh Stutt, founder of Adbombing, hopes to swap some of those ads out for a dose of local culture.

"We're exposed to enough commercials in all aspects of our lives," Stutt says. "What if, instead of staring at a 10-foot sausage McMuffin or something, you could see a piece of art?"

That's the idea behind Adbombing, which hopes to offer Miami artists the chance to display their work on billboards in high-traffic areas around town.

"Essentially, what we're trying to do is give the emerging artists in Miami a citywide stage to share their work," he explains, "nice big outdoor spaces where everyone can see it and let them demonstrate the talent that they have and that's in this city. It's about giving people in the community easier access to both art and artists within the local communities."

Of course, with the rise of the Wynwood arts scene and mural and street art culture citywide, it's never been easier to check out the work of local artists in Miami. But Stutt says it's not enough.

"Wynwood's ... a lot of fun, with Art Walk, the galleries, Wynwood Walls. But most people don't have the time to go to galleries, or the inclination to traipse through Wynwood because some of the areas look sketchy and whatnot," he says. "This is a way that the talent that bubbles up there can be shared with everyone. When you drive to work in the morning, you'll see it on I-95. And that might make you want to search it out, to go to galleries, support local artists, buy art, whatever the case may be."

The process is simple: Adbombing would select artists using a combination of artist submissions, online voting, and a panel of experts to select which talent has the opportunity to take over a billboard. (The exact selection process, Stutt says, has not yet been finalized.) The goal is to give three artists one billboard each, in neighborhoods like Brickell and other places designated "class A" by ad salesmen.

There's just one problem: billboard space ain't cheap, especially not in the high-traffic areas that Stutt hopes to present the work. He estimates that he'll need $100,000 to fund his three-billboard plan.

"With $100,000 ... I can get three boards for three months, and still cover all the production costs involved, material costs for the painters, and money for the artists' pocket," he explains, noting that he doesn't want Adbombing to be just another project that asks artists to donate their time. "Artbombing is not making a dime off of this. If we ask for $100,000 and raise $200,000, it'll just be, 'OK, we'll buy more boards or pay the artists more.'"

That's a lot of money, especially for a project that's dependent solely on crowdfunding. So what happens if the project doesn't meet that $100k goal? "If we only raise enough for one board, we'll do one board, and hopefully next time do two or three."

If Adbombing succeeds, it won't be the first time art has made its way to billboards in Miami. Locust Projects' The Billboard Project put up contemporary works by Liam Gillick and Agustina Woodgate on billboards around town in 2010 and 2011 respectively. That project was funded by a Knight Foundation grant. But Stutt says he's sticking with grassroots fundraising for Adbombing -- at least for now.

"We wanted to pull off the first one on a crowdfunding model," he says. "Assuming that we are successful and the art community likes it, then we can start reaching out to foundations and other organizations that assist in these kinds of projects. We just wanted to get it going and see if the people would put some momentum behind it.

"That said," he continues wryly, "those organizations are welcome to reach out. I'd love to grab lunch and talk about ways to make this a reality."

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