Support Hyperallergic’s independent arts journalism. Become a member today »

The exclusive mural in Los Angeles that only “verified influencers” can photograph (photo by Qasim Haqq )

LOS ANGELES — Together with the palm trees at sunset and the Hollywood sign, nothing says Los Angeles quite like a good angel wing mural. The murals started to pop up around the city after artist Colette Miller’s “Global Angel Wings Project,” which began in 2012 with the mission of reminding humanity that we can be “the angels on this earth.” But nothing iconic and Instagram-able lasts long in this city without being co-opted as a PR move. Earlier this week, the creators of the Go90 web series Like and Subscribe, which revolves around internet-famous, egocentric characters, decided to create their own angel wing mural as the ultimate selfie backdrop.

Street view of Colette Miller’s public mural, with the private tent in the background (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic unless otherwise noted)

Just around the corner from one of Miller’s murals in Hollywood, where a group of visitors snap non-ironic photos, a cheap white tent covers up another, private mural, designed specifically for and by Like and Subscribe. In addition to angel wings, the commissioned work contains the Los Angeles moniker “City of Angels” in quotation marks, and, inexplicably, the words “Art” and “Love” — not to mention a verified user check designed to go over the poser’s head.

Jack Wagner, one of Like and Subscribe’s producers and writers, said his goal was “to make the most Instagram-able mural in Los Angeles … all of the key elements.” Outside, a sign indicates that only “verified influencers and people with over 20K followers” are allowed inside to snap a selfie, a move that has ensured both attention and outrage. Some Twitter users complained about the aesthetics of the mural itself, with one bemoaning that “This is a rip off and mish-mash of Banksy, Shepard Fairey and Colette Miller,” a description which, according to Wagner, is pretty much dead-on. Others targeted the most obviously offensive element of the work: its exclusivity, with posts calling out the stunt as “perfecto capitalism” and “social media gentrification.”

Qasim Haqq and Jack Wagner at the tent

Wagner emphasizes that the stunt itself mirrors the ridiculous nature of his web series and “influencer” culture in general, saying that these topics are “extremely hard to satirize” because of the difficulty in keeping up with reality, mentioning that there were entire plot lines and episodes that had to be re-written because they couldn’t keep up with the absurdity of real life events. When pressed on this subject, Wagner responded that he “doesn’t want to name specifics” because “the first examples that come to mind are kind of tragic and sad” and others “would give away the ending of the show.”

Outside the mural, a kind security guard, Qassim Haqq, monitors the entrance to the influencer-only social media shrine. Approaching with my phone open, I explain that I write for Hyperallergic and show him the publication’s number of followers, to which he smiles and says that’s more than enough, and lets me in. Once inside, he snaps some photos of me in front of the mural, a painting which reflects social media culture in its utter banality. Unsurprisingly, the experience is largely anti-climactic. I pose self-consciously, subtly changing the tilt of my head and broadness of my smile to give myself a wide range of options for the inevitable post.

Wagner says that attendance tends to pick up later in the afternoon, but upon my arrival yesterday at around 11:30am, I was the only attendee there for the private mural. Everyone else was around the corner taking selfies in front of Miller’s open-to-the-public angel wings, which, despite the artist’s intentions, seems to reflect, more or less, exactly the same thing.

Visitors taking selfies by Colette Miller’s mural 

“Verified Influencers” can visit the mural at 7753 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles through Wednesday, June 27.

Support Hyperallergic

As arts communities around the world experience a time of challenge and change, accessible, independent reporting on these developments is more important than ever. 

Please consider supporting our journalism, and help keep our independent reporting free and accessible to all.

Become a Member

Jennifer Remenchik

Jennifer Remenchik is an artist and writer living in Los Angeles.

9 replies on “We Got to Visit the Exclusive LA Mural that Only “Verified Influencers” Can Photograph”

  1. Thanks. Rather interesting that one complaint calls it “a rip off”, and another says “perfecto capitalism”. As no money is mentioned in the article, neither comment makes sense. Or does it? Why the ‘outrage’? This seems pretty innocuous. A sort of minimalist comment on whatever-you-want-to-call-it, which is why it’s art — it asks a question.

      1. So that’s the answer to the question which it suggests to you. My question to you is what is it advertising?

        1. Maybe you should try doing a little research:
          “On Monday I got a press release from publicity manager Alex Martinett promoting the launch of the “first ‘influencer only’ mural.” The email informed me that this wall art was promoting Like & Subscribe, a soon-to-be-released scripted comedy on the Go90 streaming platform about YouTubers.”
          source: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/zm8dwx/only-influencers-can-take-photos-at-this-la-mural-and-people-are-pissed

          1. Dear foobird,

            Wow! Do I sense a bit of unpleasantness?
            If you could learn to read (a bit of mock unpleasantness), you would see that I merely asked a very simple question.

            So tell me, when you made your first comment, had *you* actually done any research? “Its not art, its advertising”, doesn’t sound like it. It sounds more like a smart-ass, off-the-cuff remark. And if you *did* know something about Alex Martinett’s promotional objective, why didn’t you share it with the rest of us at the time (as you’ve *now* done)? It might have given your comment something more than the tone of a wise-guy mouthing off. It certainly would have added a good deal to the conversation

            I don’t mean to be unpleasant, but you’ve led me down a path of merely being frank in a way I think you might understand. Usually I try to be more less abrasive.

            be well,
            mai

          2. Yes I did research first… that is why I made my snarky comment.

            And the bit of unpleasantness comes from being asked, with a dismissive tone, something you could have found out for yourself if you actually cared, instead of defending a crass, self-serving, and socially repugnant rip off of the original art only a few yards away.

  2. Influencing what? So called ‘influencers’ photographing themselves in front of all the other wings and street / graffiti art in general are way behind the curve. All the so called ‘artist’ behind this is doing, is condoning appropriation and helping losers dilute our discourse.

Comments are closed.