Sign Spinning and Other Thoughts

Sign spinning.  If you live in an area where the car is a popular mode of transportation then chances are you’ve seen a sign spinner.  If you don’t know, sign spinning is a new practice that consists of throwing around a piece of advertising in a way that is part street art, part break dance, part testosterone-fueled-version of synchronized gymnastics.


Some sign spinners are savants.  Some of them are just sad.  I believe, all of them earn a fairly low wage for spinning that sign.


Here’s a quickie vid to give you an idea of the sign spinning world if you don’t know about it:



I don’t know how I feel about the sign spinner.  On one level, I feel like his talents are exploited to sell more Little Caesar’s Pan! Pan! pizza or a new model home when maybe he should be using those skills to form some kind of dance troupe that expresses his inner city feelings.  On the other hand, everyone needs to get paid and maybe Jack-Sign-Spinner doesn’t give a sh*t about his urban rage.


Yet, when the sign spinning performance is lackadaisical, I can’t help but feeling, “Man this is worse then giving out flyers for a tittie bar.  There has got to be a better way to make a living than this.”  It seems degrading and demoralizing.


The arts, in my mind, are supposed to be a thing that is free of commerce.  Right?


I worry today’s sign spinners are tomorrow’s singing billboards.  Tomorrow’s singing billboards are the future’s corporate-paid-for graffiti taggers who only tag, “Nike” and “Kraft” all over city buildings for a fee.  None of it done for the love, all of it done for the money.


Whatever happened to doing something for the feck of it?  Like throwing around a frisbee.


(My older cousin is in this video, I think. Seriously.)



Oh, crap.  They monetized that too.


Blogging.  Is that the last untapped landscape of doing something for fun, your way, expressing yourself without spinning some words around for an advertiser in the heat?


I doubt it.  Plus, if you can make a little dough and do it YOUR way, why not?  This girl does and she’s brilliant.


I don’t know if I feel bad for the sign spinner when I see him or good for the entrepreneurial spirit.  I have mixed feelings about it, as I do when I watch Wipeout.


I am only clear about the fact that I don’t want to spin any signs for $10 per hour in the heat.  I see the sign spinner and I’m happy to be in my car.  So, I guess I wrote this post to say, “Sorry, Sign Spinner.”  You’re an artist and I’m sorry the world did that to you.


Now, I’m going to go write some paid stuff and I’m going to think about how different I am from him.  Right?  As I begin the 50th revision, I’ll realize…


Wrong.  Oh, how wrong I was.


Enjoy this.  It was bound to happen.  It’s the World Sign Spinning Championships.  Oh, yes, it was. It was destiny!




Sweet Mother is updated daily.  Click the “follow” button, up top, to subscribe.



You might also like:


More t-shirts.  I can’t stop.



Photo cred:  Sign Spinner

25 thoughts on “Sign Spinning and Other Thoughts

  1. And then there’s Liberty Tax Services (or such some thing) who have their sign spinners/bearers dress as the Statue Of Liberty. I thought this was relegated to strip malls, until I saw them parading up and down Broadway last March and April. Who knew they were national?

    1. it’s a national disease, me thinks. i’ve also read that some cities are banning them as they can be distracting to some drivers. interesting, huh? xo, sm

    2. And not just the Statues of Liberty, either. I’ve seen guys advertising chicken restaurants wearing chicken suits. In, like, 90 degree heat. I always feel so bad for them.

      1. Yes! At least the ones for tax services were wearing extra layers when it was cold outside and they could use them anyway!

      2. i feel bad too, but them i’m like… people have got to earn a dollar and one time i dressed as a ninja turtle…seriously… so, i don’t know. i just think it must be exhausting spinning the sign the whole time. i think when you don’t get paid much, you should be able to just stand there, but maybe that’s the communist in me. lol.

    1. do you think i can get it on youtube? that’s a must see. it must have been hilarious. what’s interesting is no chick sign spinners… i don’t know why, is the sign heavy? or do women just have more sense… loool.

  2. I think we should start a World eXtreme Blogging Rodeo Hoedown Championship Got Talent Competition (I need to work on the name). Bloggers sit at a table and type, but like type really, really cool and with flair, and stuff. And then they, like, get something to drink, and type some more, but really, really cool typing like maybe with one hand and one foot–we can work out the kinks later. And then the bloggers can watch TV and eat an entire bag of Lay’s potato chips–not me, that other blogger, I’m eating…um…carrots? And then the bloggers post and put their heads into their hands and weep.

  3. You say, SweetMom, that you can actually get paid for Sign Spinning? I just might quit baking you brownies and cool choccy cake sweet things…however would have to work on my twist and shout gymnastic split moves….just sayin’….

  4. Sign moving is more fun. That’s when you move a sign that says Town Centre and an arrow to the other side of the street- or you could change the signs on the doors of public bathrooms while they’re full of people 😀

      1. I was going to go with: “Have you heard of a Jewish Spinner?”- but then I realized that would only make sense to people from New York 😀

  5. We don’t have ANY sign spinners in Australia but we do have a lot of buskers who perform for whatever the audience is prepared to throw in the hat. I honestly don’t know whether one is better or worse than the other. Maybe the really good sign spinners are really doing it in the hope of being ‘discovered’ as artists? And why not get paid while they’re doing it? As for the not-so ones… I can imagine it’d be more fun than dishing up fries at McD’s. Maybe…

  6. There’s a championship? Well, now I’m going to have to develop some respect for that guy down on the corner who looks like he’s having a seizure at a junior high dance. He’s probably a champion.

  7. I’ve done worse, in more heat, for much less–It’s called “making money” and the world doesn’t do it to you, you do it to yourself. My shoulders ache thinking about all that spinning, though…

  8. This post reminded me of a line from the Jay Brannan song “The State of Music”:

    What an adorable artistic dream
    Now everyone taste the machine

    As you say, all of us artists who do it for money, or try to, find that we’re caught in that machine, too.

  9. They don’t spin signs around here. They just sell soft pretzels which seem to taste a bit like diesel exhaust….and they’ll wash your windows if you don’t threaten them not to.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s