Reading the Streets: Killy Kilford, Department of Well Being

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo by Chesher Cat via medium.com.

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo by Chesher Cat via medium.com.

NEW YORK – There’s a mysterious new organization in New York City subtly blending messages of good will into our traffic signs, like spiked punch. In the same patterns, colors and fonts of the usual warning to slow down, stop honking or curb our dogs, the signs instead suggest that we “HONK LESS, LOVE MORE” on Eighth Avenue in the West Village, and “HAVE A GREAT DAY” in Williamsburg.

The signs, despite their all-caps enthusiasm, blend in so well with the usual traffic warnings, I nearly walked by without a second glance. In fact it took multiple walks, and mistaking the work for Trustocop’s before I finally realized that the signs were the work of British artist Killy Kilford, 37, who created the Department of Well Being, a fictional government agency that just wants us to feel better, and for the government to invest as much as possible in programs that will do just that.

Commenters on one street art blog’s Instagram grumbled over said similarities, but I’d argue that while the designs are at times similar, Trustocop’s work has more variety color and message wise; the Department of Well Being’s work is uniformly upbeat. Besides, can the world ever really get enough of cheekily repurposed traffic signs? Or positive messages, for that matter?

Kilford and a ground of friends and volunteers installed over 200 signs throughout the city. They’re taking the government agency idea far enough to ask 1,000 New Yorkers to help them install the signs and then send the records of the project to Mayor Michael Bloomberg before he leaves office. Even he could benefit from the visual pep talk.


ADDITIONAL IMAGE OF NOTE


Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo by Chesher Cat via medium.com.

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo by Chesher Cat via medium.com.

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo via deptofwellbeing.com.

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo via deptofwellbeing.com.

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo via deptofwellbeing.com.

Killy Kilford and the Department of Well Being, New York City. Photo via deptofwellbeing.com.

Trustocop at Jonathan Levine Gallery’s ‘10 Years of Wooster Collective’ show, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.

Trustocop at Jonathan Levine Gallery’s ‘10 Years of Wooster Collective’ show, New York City. Photo by Ilana Novick.