A pair of artists using blasts of color from aerosol spray paint cans began working on a new mural this week at the corner of Lemoyne Street and Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park. Using photographs taped to the brick wall as a guide, they meticulously recreated the photo’s highlights, colors and shapes into a street-art style image. The subject of their mural? A bronze and brawny Lexus. The luxury vehicle replaced a mural that served as a promotion related to Walt Disney. This Echo Park wall facing a busy intersection is an examples of the marriage of street art and advertising, with major corporations and brands taking advantage of the popularity of a guerrila art form.
But are these street-smart murals an expression of creativity or just illegal signage?
The two artists painting the Lexus said they could not provide details of the corporate-sponsored artwork. They could not say whether the work had been granted a permit by the city as a legal mural or sign.
Another mural, created by a firm called ICU Art, a block east at Sunset Boulevard and Logan Street has also served as a platform for promotion. A person at ICU Art declined to comment on the record but the firm’s website said its crews of artists paint corporate as well as community murals.
Experts in alternative or guerrilla marketing say street art murals have proven an effective advertising tool. Alt Terrain, which assist ad agencies on guerrilla marketing, says on its website:
“Street Mural blends creative street art with brand advertising through the implementation of hand-painted, one-of-a-kind, permitted, street-level outdoor advertising murals. ALT TERRAIN and notable street artists assist agencies in creating unique art-advertising outdoor painted billboard initiatives that are respected, talked about, and become part of the local culture.”
(There is no indication that Alt Terrain was involved in the Echo Park murals.)
In the case of the Echo Park murals, they have certainly attracted attention but they are most not likely permitted as either murals or signage, said David Lara with the city’s Building and Safety Department.
“If it shows any type of commercialized ad, it’s definitely not permitted,” he said.
Photo by Echo Park resident