Truth in Advertising

Guerrilla Art in Santa Cruz


The photographs in this exhibit are of actual altered billboards that appeared on the streets of Santa Cruz, California from 1980 to 1985. The photographs have been adjusted for brightness, contrast, and parallax, but no content changes were made.

The billboards were made over by a clandestine network of midnight billboard editors operating under the name of Truth In Advertising, or TIA for short.

This exhibit of their historic work was first presented in 2007 at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History. The exhibit is made up of 12 billboards presented in the order in which they appeared on the streets of Santa Cruz. The sequence also tells the story of Truth in Advertising, and documents publicity and commentary.

start button

Table of Contents

1. What was Truth in Advertising?

2. Who was Truth in Advertising?

3. How did Truth in Advertising start?

4. Why did TIA alter billboards?

5. Why alter billboards so cleanly?

6. Truth in Advertising was a historical phenomenon

7. Truth in Advertising was an artistic endeavor

8. Truth in Advertising was an illegal activity

9. Truth in Advertising had community support

10. Truth in Advertising developed a reputation

11. Truth in Advertising was never caught

12. Resistance is possible


How it was done

Photography: Bob Stayton
Exhibit text: Bob Stayton
Illustrations: Toaa Dallo
Exhibit design assistance: Marc D’Estout
Photographic scans and cleanup: Richard Wells
Printing: Real Color

Special thanks to: Richard Wells of Real Color for donating his time to scan the photos, adjust the picture quality, and lay out the panels; to Toaa Dallo for contributing the illustrations; to Real Color for discounting the price on the printing and mounting; to Lackey Woodworking for contributions to the panels; and to the Museum of Art and History for supporting controversial art. This exhibit is dedicated to all those subversives who took the risk to participate in TIA activities.

Not affiliated with, an independent nonprofit American advertising watchdog organization.