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Another Roadside Attraction

Gary Miller

A couple of years back, my friend Rob Hitzig started thinking about bumper stickers. Why, he wondered, did they almost always use text as a means of delivering a message? Why did he hardly ever see a bumper sticker that used only color—and not words—to get its meaning across?

Of course, there are obvious reasons for that: most bumper stickers are designed to direct a very particular meaning into the mind of the viewer. You know—shop here, vote for this guy, save the endangered willowail, that kind of thing. And words are very handy for that. But Rob didn’t like this demanding approach. He wanted to create bumper stickers that let each viewer develop a personal meaning of their own.

To do this, he eliminated the words altogether, and designed bumper stickers using abstract geometric shapes. Then he printed them ten to a batch and offered them free online. At first, people thought the idea a little odd. (For the record, Deb and I predicted he would become a billionaire bumper sticker baron. So far, we are incorrect.) But eventually, the stickers caught on, and now you see them all over Central Vermont.

Recently, Rob decided that since Phase 1 of his project went so well, he’d move on to Phase 2. He created a sized-up pattern—billboard-sized, to be precise, and rented a sign along Route 9 in Queensbury, NY to paste it on. (Ironically, Rob couldn’t do this in Vermont, where billboards are banned.) 

Rob’s pop-art billboard went up last week, and I gotta say it looks pretty cool. And sandwiched as it is between ads for a liquor store and a Wendy’s, it makes a clear statement about our daily bombardment with advertising.

As far as Rob is concerned, he’s just thrilled people will have the chance to respond to his art—whatever that response might be. “I’m not asking anything of the people who see the piece,” Rob says. “I’m just hoping that the chance to look at my work will give them a chance to reflect, and provide a little peace of mind.”

The installation runs for four weeks. So if you’re in Queensbury, be sure to drive by and check it out. And if you see Rob in downtown Monty, you might want to ask if he has any bumper stickers on him. Cause his designs look great on the back of a car, too.

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