Throughout history, signs have served a wide variety of vital purposes for mankind. From telling us where to park to making sure we mind the gap, signs are an important form of communication for people around the globe. Now this fascinating phenomenon has found its way to our very own UCSB campus, with lively pieces of painted plywood littering the lawns of our fair campus from Phelps to Physical Sciences, Broida to Buchanan. Whether they’re copying corporate logos or inundating us with “inspirational quotes,” these signs mean business – or at least the official kickoff of the Associated Students campaign season and this season’s session of the greek system’s rush.
Confused by the blur of colorful campaign slogans whizzing by as you bike to class? Overwhelmed by the sheer number of rubberneckers unintentionally ruining your two-wheeled commute in their quest to catch every last copy of the iPod logo on campus? Never fear, Artsweek is here. We’ve surveyed the signs – mostly from A.S., with a few select greek signs thrown in when we couldn’t resist – and we’ve rounded up the ones worth checking out and the ones worth walking away from as quickly as your two legs or two wheels can take you. We’ve even sorted them out for you, into the easily manageable categories of good, bad, ugly and wood that would have been better spent as a beer pong table. So sit back, enjoy, and try not to take us too seriously. Endorsements belong on the opinion page; these are merely evaluations based on artistic merit – or the complete and total lack thereof.
Let’s start with the good. In a race dominated by identical motifs executed with varying degrees of precision and very little individuality – it’s amazing how reminiscent the silhouetted figures of the Open People’s Party signs are of the iPod icons used in the Student Party’s signs of years past – it was refreshing to encounter even the slightest hint of originality. That’s why we here at Artsweek are declaring Corey Huber’s sign, located next to the Performing Arts Theatre adjacent to Humanities and Social Sciences Building, the winner in the good category. With his skillful use of what we can only assume is his own face and an enviably eclectic collection of adorable accessories, Huber proves that narcissism is no problem when it comes to crafting the perfect campaign sign.
Of course, every good winner has to come with a runner-up – or in this case, a few. The OPP has fallen victim to the curse of using various variations on the same basic design that plagued angry-fisted, iPod-loving candidates from many other parties in years passed. With almost every character silhouetted on the OPP signs looking like something straight out of Stepford – pearls and bulging arm muscles included – it was nice to see some originality coming from one of their candidates, which is why Daniel Plotkin’s keg stand character gets an honorable mention, despite his sloppy execution of the sign’s writing. Runners-up in the good category also include Stephanie Brower and J.P. Primeau for their clean and well-composed signs that stand above the rest for their execution, even if not for their originality.
The bad and the ugly being so similar, we’ve chosen an array of candidates for this dubious honor and combined the two categories as our own little effort to truly highlight the egregiousness of subjecting innocent students to unattractive signs. First off, we would like to point out to Chris Martin that sharing a name with a celebrity does not make you immune from the need to spell-check your signs before painting them. Your extreme lack of editing is entirely evidenced upon close examination of your sign – it appears you mistook the word “effect” for the word “affect,” and in the process painted over the “e” to hide your horrible error. Well, we can still see it. And now it’s a lot worse, making you the winner for both bad and ugly. Runners-up in this category include Matt Jackson’s sloppy sign, upon which it appears some sort of critter must have tread before the paint dried, the just-plain-sloppy sign done by Radhika, and the mono-monikered odes to barbed wire and Starbucks, respectively, put forth by Paulina and Gabriela.
Finally, we have what is perhaps the most important category. These signs are so bad that they would have been better used as beer pong tables, and perhaps that is indeed where their fate will take them. It is an apt category for these two particular signs, since they both happen to be advertisements for fraternities. However, we here at Artsweek would like to point out that we have no problem with the greek system, and again, we are judging solely on the complete and utter lack of artistic merit these signs demonstrate. That said, our pick for the number one sign that would have been better used as wood for a beer pong table is the Phi Alpha Delta debacle that graces the ground by the bike loop. From its poor paint job to its silly little stick figures, this sign belongs on the ground where it lies. Future lawyers of America should know better. As Artsweek staffers, we object to this sign. The runner-up in this category is the Rush Sig Ep sign that takes the cake for being just plain creepy. Looking like they used the blood of last year’s pledges to splatter the sign, thereby highlighting the oddly proportioned skeletal figure that seems to be running as fast as it can to get off the sign, this advertisement says little more than “Join us or die.” It’s not a very uplifting message – perhaps that’s why this sign is also on the ground.
Elections may still be awhile away, but there is one contest we here at Artsweek can already get behind: the great sign debate. Because when it comes to the signs currently covering campus, it’s clear who the winners and losers are. And when it comes to rating wood, nobody does it better than Artsweek. Just make sure you A.S. candidates save a few leftover pieces of plywood for our beer pong tables when the elections are over.