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Penmanship Stupid – Faux ad – Jerry “Orange” Johnson

Was on Atlantic & Nevins until 2003 © Jerry "Orange" Johnson

   Jerry “Orange” Johnson, originally from Cleveland OH, worked as a walldog for Seaboard Outdoor before establishing Orange Outdoor Advertising, Brooklyn’s premiere hand-painted sign company in 1977.  Johnson is perhaps better known for his “spoof” advertising murals, often depicting non-existent products with classic nostalgic images accompanied by sublime ironical text. This sign caught the eye of filmmakers for a documentary segment on PBS called CityArts on which the Fading Ad Campaign was also featured.  On a personal website featuring roadside ephemera, Agility Nut writes about Johnson’s Penmanship Stupid ad which depicts Zsa Zsa Gabor as a pen manufacturing company representative:

The Penmanship sign was located in Boerum Hill and was painted in 1997. It was a faux billboard created by Jerry Johnson of Orange Outdoor Advertising. Johnson painted satiric, retro-style paintings on this wall annually for about 15 years. Previous signs poked fun at subjects including: oleo margarine, electric companies, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, plates, the power of cash and Ebbets Field. Sadly, this “ad” was painted over in 2003 (with red paint) and probably marks the end of the series. – Agility Nut

What do employers look at first? Penmanship Stupid! Idiots can type, and do. But bosses are hungry for character. They miss the smears, aggressive slants, and pretentious descenders that only handwriting can deliver.

Nervous about remembering the alphabet without a keyboard? No shame in that. And no problem either with… The “A-B-See”  from American Ballpoint Corp. Get a good pen, and get a good position. – Jerry “Orange” Johnson


  1. […] /6/  Fake pen ad with a real message … […]

  2. […] (of all places) that combine signpainting and street art. To me, the effect is rather similar to Jerry Johnson’s satirical ads that formerly marked the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Nevins Street a few blocks […]

  3. […] UPDATE II: Cursive Writing Makes Kids Smarter It’s the Penmanship, Stupid! […]

  4. […] & Frank’s, Maferbo appears to still be in business. The billboard above reminds me of Jerry Johnson’s fake signs that formerly appeared at Nevins Street and Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill in the […]

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