NEW YORK (PIX11) — They say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That’s not the case here. Established street artists are now calling for a boycott of the New York City Department of Sanitation’s “Trucks of Art” project, saying it’s “exploitative” because it doesn’t offer the artists any payment for their work.
The city has an open call going on right now for artists to submit their designs and be chosen to paint a city garbage truck. The project is fully volunteer and is expected to take three days.
Andaluz The Artist told PIX11 News he started a social media campaign calling for the boycott.
“This is New York City, the largest city in the world, and they’re trying to get free art from artists, and they want to give them trash paint, to paint garbage trucks,” Andaluz said.
His message to younger, up-and-coming artists: “This isn’t right, and you shouldn’t be taken advantage of.”
Well-known street artist Meresone says he understands it will be hard for artists still looking for their break to say no, but adds, “It’s setting a bad precedent going forward; why should other large entities pay for art when they can find a way to get it for free?”
Mersone was recently paid to do a mural at the new LaGuardia Terminal.
The New York City Department of Sanitation declined a same-day on-camera interview but said in a statement this is a “zero-waste challenge” and that “artists retain all rights to their work.”
All artists will use household paint that is no longer wanted to keep it from going into landfills. This is the second time the sanitation department has run the Trucks of Art program. The last program was held in 2019.
The city does not profit from the painted trucks. The separate Sanitation Foundation can choose to use the designs commercially.
Belinda Mager, the director of communications for the New York City Department of Sanitation, said in a statement, “Should the Foundation choose to use the designs commercially, the Foundation and artist will enter a separate licensing agreement.”
When PIX11 News asked follow-up questions about whether there would be city grant money for a small stipend for the artists. Mager responded, “While we believe this is an exciting opportunity, and have already received submissions and appreciate those who are willing to volunteer their time, we understand that some may not want to and we understand their decisions.”