Pranked commuters – fake signs on the subway

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
The replica:


Riding with despair prohibited.
Keep hopes up.

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
 The actual:
Riding between cars prohibited.
Keep doors closed.

An artist named TRUE replaced official signs on New York subway trains with his own versions between 1994-1999. He and his friends rode subways all night to install them. He called his replacement stickers "life instructions" because he hoped the philosophy they told – a philosophy that had helped him – might help others.

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
Installing a fake sign

TRUE was a conscientious prankster. He didn’t want his friends to get arrested, so he provided them with some protection. He gave them fake "Volunteer" identification badges and a bogus flyer explaining that attaching these replica signs was a campaign by the subway authorities to "Bring a smile to a commuter’s face!"

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
Fake MTA volunteer badge

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
Fake MTA smile campaign flyer

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
A sticker in action on the subway

The replica signs were designed to match the look of the existing signs and were likely not seen as different right away. Yet when they were noticed, the fake campaign to create smiles may have actually brought smiles to a commuter’s face.

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
 Please, no weapons

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
Karma Conditioned Car
Please watch what you do

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
Life instructions:
Have fun
Do not hurt people
Do not accept defeat
Strive to be happy

Pranked commuters - fake signs on the subway
Do not hold grudges

In this TED talk by designer Stefan Sagmeister, he mentions these fake signs as one of the designed things that has made him happy.

Stefan Sagmeister shares happy design


– Designer Stefan Sagmeister mentions these stickers in his talk about design that makes him happy, featured in a TED talk>>
– The fake subway sign artist’s site: Trueart>>

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