Richard Ankrom doesn't want anyone to get lost the way he did more than 20 years ago when he was driving through Los Angeles.
"I was trying to get on the 5, and I missed my exit," says Ankrom.
Years later, after moving to L.A., he realized why.
“They put small signs on the side of the road," said Ankrom. "But nothing overhead."
So he decided to install one himself.
“I realized that I’m a sign painter. I can make the thing and put it up,” he said.
He says he did a little bit of research and found a PDF online laying out the specs required to make a freeway sign in the state of California. It took him about a week to make the sign.
The intention is to help everyone, and that in turn, helps me.
Next, came the installation. Ankrom donned an orange vest to look like a city worker and put a fake decal on his truck. "Aesthetic De Construction," read the decal.
“I also made a fake invoice, so if I did get asked any questions by the authorities, I could show an invoice and then just play dumb," said Ankrom.
He says it took him 30 minutes to install the "Interstate 5" shield and the "North" sign. He enlisted a few friends to help him record the whole thing, which he later uploaded to YouTube.
Ankrom describes what he did as "guerrilla public service."
"The intention is to help everyone, and that in turn, helps me," said Ankrom.
It took the California Department of Transportation to realize the sign was there in the first place. But they didn't take it down.
“They said, well we don’t want him to do it again, but it was actually accurate, so they left it there," said Ankrom.
The state left it up for almost 9 years, eventually replacing it as part of a routine refurbishing of signs that happens every few years.
That was back in 2010. Nowadays, Ankrom spends his days as a commerical sign painter. His nights? He spends those doing "guerrilla public service."
"Some of the projects I do now, I won’t be able to reveal for 7 years to avoid jail," said Ankrom.
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