Idea #9.5: Remote graffiti

Welcome to Idea #9.5. I’ve got something special planned for Idea #10, which relies on co-ordinating some allied forces from abroad. Until they are successfully assembled, I’m going to give you an idea that’s been emblazoned across my mental brickwall for the past few days: remote graffiti.

In my work for, two of the most interesting trends that keep bubbling to the surface are mass customisation and (what I’ll call) remote participation. Mass customisation – the trend that sees consumers customising their environment and products en masse – has already inspired two ideas:Design your own bar, and Pimp My Village). Remote participation refers to people engaging with formerly inaccessible aspects of the real world via newly available online channels. Examples of this are remote-controlled organic vegatable gardens in rural Italy, shares in New Zealand beehives and, of course, lobster trap adoption schemes.

Combine these two trends, and what do you get? Remote graffiti – obviously.

Think about it, people fell in love with Web 2.0 because they could upload whatever they wanted – writing, photos, videos. Now everyone is doing that, it’s nothing special. It’s like writing a post-it note.

Post it note

Now what people want to do is use all the new tricks they’ve learned on Web 2.0 to leave their mark on the real world. And what’s the best way of leaving your mark on the real world? No, not that. I meant graffiti. The problem is that the darkness of the graffiti underworld is forbidden to most people who have to be up for work in the morning. But don’t worry folks – we have the internet!

Idea #9.5: Remote graffiti

  1. A web interface allows anyone to create their own graffiti on their computer screen.
  2. If they’d like to see their work out there, they can specify a spot by entering location details/ uploading a ‘before’ photograph, and making a request for proposal. 
  3. Real graffiti artists then place bids, specifying how much they’ll do the work for and when they’ll do it.
  4. Users make a decision based on comparison of the bids, reputations and portfolios of the graffitists.
  5. User and graffiti artist enter into a contract for the work.
  6. When the work is complete, graffitist uploads ‘after’ photos and receives payment.

All the ingredients for this are already out there on the web.  There are free graffiti creators you can use, allowing you to customise classic graffiti fonts with your own text, colours and styles. Here’s something I made with the OldSchool font on

Whoever sprays this on a wall gets a tenner

Whoever sprays this on a wall gets a tenner

For people who like to keep their tagging habit a bit more freestyle, there’s, which lets multiple users spray on the same tiles at the same time so they can scribble over each other’s work… or work alone to create masterpieces like this:

Many a highlighter was exploited on such designs during the history lessons of my low-tech youth

Many a highlighter was exploited on such designs during the history lessons of my low-tech youth

Not only is remote graffiti the creative solution for bleeding edge closet rebel cowards, there’s also a potential business in it for anyone with the nouse and Nicky Blackmarket connections to make it happen.

If you really want to rack up the profits like balls in a ghetto poolhall, I’d also suggest letting users order canvas graffarti prints of their personal creation – the essential accessory for any Camden Town sitting room.

Legality might be a slight sticking point, but why are you asking me about that? I’m no lawyer.

While you save up the money to speak to one, have a look at Banksy’s website. When you’ve finished looking at that, buy his book “Wall and Piece” and despair that you are not as cool, successful or rich as he. He is, simply, a better person:

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