How to Make XXL Street Stencils & Get Away WIth It

Picture of How to Make XXL Street Stencils & Get Away WIth It
This instructable will show you how to cover 640 Square feet of advertising with giant block letters in less than 3 hours in high traffic areas - all during the day. By using clear plastic stencils and painting the whole wall black, this technique minimizes the amount of time one would look suspicious, allowing the writer to work during the day on a large scale.

Why Make an Instructable?
In 2000 I did a project to both cover these ads and, with luck, get the neighborhood to think about why ads filled our public spaces as opposed to anything else more productive. I know I haven't exhausted the potential of this technique, and so I pass it on to you to put to use and improve on.

What's wild posting? If you live in an urban area you've probably seen poster sized advertisements on the streets. These wheatpasted "wild postings" * are often illegally placed on construction site barricades, building facades, in alleyways, and on assorted buildings in order for big business to reach urban demographics (like you!). Companies win by putting their products in the face of hip, urban consumers at the expense of alternative uses for public space - such as murals, street art, community boards, or just plain old architecture. (see Banksy's The Joy Of Not Being Sold Anything)

These top-down autocratic messages designed to persuade the public just become a default part of city life. The idea of something more democratic or of community interest in it's place becomes hard to even imagine.
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Advar1 year ago
Applause is in order for you. *much clapping* I can't think of much more poetry than using adversments against themselves.
If you wanted to be a little ninja about it, you could even wear a dust mask(hide identity), and maybe some pepper spray in your pocket if things get ugly, lol
and maybe some pepper spray in your pocket if things get ugly, lol

ye cuz the spray paint in your hand wont workl ike pepper spray, they wouldn't see sh!t if you sprayed
sole jason-25904 years ago
You don't use spray paint, you use wall paint and a roller, looks more legit and is easier with such a large surface where you don't have to worry about anything but covering everything up.
skip2mylou7 years ago
definitely a ROCKIN idea!!! much respect to the author. just a question about removing the painted over stencils... when u take em off the wall, do u just rip em off from top to bottom? do they come off pretty much intact? would u suggest minimal staple-age so as to minimize the possibility of the stencils getting caught in the staples while u try to rip it off that wall, or is that not really a concern?
slambert (author)  skip2mylou7 years ago
I just gave a tug and they come off. I was more concerned with getting out of there quickly. If you want to recycle 'em, you can put packing tape over the tears in the plastic when you get home. The thicker construction grade plastic is durable enough.
Ian01 slambert5 years ago
But they wouldn't be clear anymore.
dfc849 Ian015 years ago
That's a good point. Reusing them would be a little more obvious. 
 Long dead instructible, but it recently got featured, so I don't feel so bad about kicking it up.
Another form of plausible deniability for the painter, is to paint it and leave. Then, have some of your friends come by and rip the letters off. They "don't know who painted it" and there is most certainly nothing illegal about removing illegally posted things from a wall.
mista.v5 years ago
Two questions:

If the wall is brick, staples or not? I guess staples might work in older brick, but should I try roofing nails or just tape?

How 'official' does this have to look? Pretty much will I get questioned for doing this being a teenager and not appearing to be a professional painter?
luvit5 years ago
 i was attempting to do this to a railroad box car. epic fail..  :(
keep up the good work man
thatkidej7 years ago
I love this idea, it's pretty awesome what you're doing =]

Is there a way to make large adhesive letters, and roll them on like wallpaper?

Or cutting letters out of wallpaper, and rolling them on for the same effect?

Just a thought!
The wallpaper idea would leave you exposed for longer while obviously doing something "wrong". The part where you're just painting solid black while in disguise is a lot less noticeable than slowly spelling out a stirring message one letter at a time.
Both of them would take MUCH less time, I don't see how you could think differently. Especially my second idea.
Well, take the example in the instructable. ADVERTISING

So above, you're spending a couple of hours looking like a painter "cleaning up", and then at the very end it's... rip,rip,rip,rip,...etc, and a minute after the suspicious activity, you've got your message delivered, time to take pictures and go home.

With adhesive letters, I see it as more like...
Get your setup ready, and then
get your second letter ready, maybe peel off an adhesive end, or have one person hold it while someone else pastes up the wallpaper. (Maybe staples + paste would be best here, then you've got only one person).
get ready for third letter...
get ready for fourth letter while passersby wonder what's up...

You see where I'm going with this. I'm just thinking about the duration of time when you're exposed and looking especially suspicious. With your version, your net time is significantly reduced, but your overall suspiciously exposed time is moderately to significantly increased.
I understand what you mean. The second idea is the most time efficient of all, however. You'd look suspicious, but it'd take a minute or so in total to roll on an entire banner. The first idea is cutting actual letters out to roll them on, the second is rolling the outline of the letters on, so it'd have more of a masking effect like the instructable produces.
In other words, the first idea: faster, but more suspicious. Second idea: fastest, very suspicious, but you'd be gone before anyone could say anything.
Ah, so I wasn't following everything exactly. Really cool idea. It sounds like you'd need to work out how to keep all the outlines getting tangled up, is the only minor weakness I can spot.
Ian01 Subvert5 years ago
You could put a black sheet on the front before rolling it up. Then unroll on the wall and peel off the black sheet once it's up. Very fast and un-suspicious until you're ready to leave.
thatkidej Ian015 years ago
it's been years since I read this thing, totally brought this back from the dead. but I have new input! I learned how to use a vinyl cutter yesterday, and they are awesome! so my latest idea is as follows: make a large decal with a vinyl cutter, and apply it to the wall of your choosing! All preparation is done in private, and applying a decal takes less than thirty seconds.
hmmmmmm...that's a pretty good idea!
slambert (author)  thatkidej7 years ago
I like that idea. That is why I posted this here. Please, build on it, change it, use it however you'd like...
threadbare5 years ago
Oh, This idea is fantastic and thought provoking. I can't wait to share it with people here locally.
great instructible. but lets say i want to something a little more "banksy ' life silhouettes of people. or faces. how would i do that? any ideas? you do anything else big?
great bro, thx
temp6 years ago
Ha ha by the time you took the second picture in the last step, someone put something over the "r" lol
slambert (author)  temp6 years ago
no actually, I left the sign for the construction company out of politeness because it had their license number on it.
Rossiroller7 years ago
Its scary how many privileges you can get just by wearing a uniform or acting like you belong there. I think there was a streaker a little while back at a football game who got all the way down to the field without being questioned just because he wore a referee's uniform.
josh7 years ago
there is a self adhesive clear plastic that many automotive and house painters use. It comes on a roll and can be bought at most paint supply stores. it is not very tacky, and it used mostly for masking windows. I have used it numerous times and it sticks quite well to most surfaces. if one was able to cut out the letters in advance they would go up in a flash. They also would keep paint from running behind the stencil. this works great for making designs on walls in bedrooms.
clamoring7 years ago
What an eloquent way to express what seems to be an opinion most of us hold but don't know how to implement. +1.
unspecified7 years ago
This is out of control! Looks great too.
I really enjoy this idea, it's the kind of thing I will do when I find my overalls and go to the printers next (had an idea similar to this involving a clear picture stencil at 8'x4' with whatever colour of paint you like, put it up at the end of the wall and start painting the wall take a 'tea break' pull it down and be amused...
soustar7 years ago
such a great idea!! I really want to do that... another good costume idea that I got from this site is to grab a clip board and a hard hat, and any old name tag, and you can pretty much go anywhere in the world without any one questioning you...
_soapy_7 years ago
Great idea!

The use of the clear lettering is the touch of genius here, as otherwise you'd be effectively painting a target on your own back!

Now, where's MexicoMan to compare this to genocide?
mattface7 years ago
That is fantastic. I'm going to be on the look out for poster-ed walls now!
sex7 years ago
-_- interesting , nice result -_-

i prefere to adbust illegal ads with the paintbrush and the cutter .
Around 600 000 A1 ( 90 x 60cm) posters in 12 years
Do you think that if you told a police officer that you were "Just cleaning up" he'd believe it? :)
slambert (author)  ArtisticBabe7 years ago
probably not, but the point is to set up a scenario where there is no reason for the officer to stop - to minimize any suspicion.
Right, well heres a pat on the back for doing something worthwhile. :) Very cool
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