Artist Clet Abraham Has Fun Changing Street Signs Into Works Of Art
Creativity is a unique trait that thrives in us humans. We can see the signs and effects in our everyday lives and the things we see around us. One fruit of this labor is art, an expression of the human imagination and thought. We can see different forms of art dating back to the Stone Age, a sign that humans have always had this creative ability. The best part about art is that we can express complex emotions and thoughts in a way that the viewer can easily relate to. Art is a powerful tool that can be used to pass information, and the work by Clet Abraham is a good example. He is a French artist that has found a way to convey his thoughts and feelings on social injustice to the world. Clet uses road signs to create meaningful art, a perfect medium for all to see and understand. We want to look at some of Clet’s artworks and the deep meaning they express.
All images used in this article are the works of Clet Abraham, as seen on Instagram.
Migration in Miami
The government has come up with so many rules and regulations, and it is sometimes hard to keep up with what is allowed and what is not. These laws and restrictions are meant to keep society in check, but are they always right?
Clet has decided to use this sign to get a message across. We have a sign here telling people not to enter that location; then there is an alteration showing people helping others into it. Who is wrong, the sign restricting people, or the people helping each other?
Evolution / Involution
One thing that is constant about the human race is growing. We keep developing until the very end, as individuals, and as a society. We’re, of course, not discussing physical growth, but the things around us that make up our communities, the world we live in.
Some believe that we humans are a product of constant evolution, from our forefathers back in the Stone Age who couldn’t stand upright to a more evolved species known as the Homo sapiens, but Clet’s question is, will this evolution end here?
Maybe you’re the clown
Life can be very twisted, and we often spend our time doing things we think are the most important, but in the end, it turns out we had it wrong. We take the acts of everyday living so seriously that we sometimes forget to enjoy life.
Take this image as a great example. This is a street sign, and we all know how valuable having this information is in society. However, someone else looked at the street sign and saw a clown instead; such is life.
Here is another that tickles our funny bones. When there is a dangerous curve ahead, we’re always appreciative to get a heads up. But how many of these signs are there in the world? And why is there only one with personality?!
It looks as if this line was minding his business and wasn’t expecting the road to curve. If there was a speech balloon in this art piece, we are sure he’d be saying, “whoopsie; I did not see that coming!”
Blurry, but it’s fine
We have all spent a lot of time at home in the past two years. For some of us, it opened our eyes and minds to new experiences, hobbies, and talents. But even for those who thrived, it was such a relief when we could all go out again.
Of course, the bars were also opened again, and you can imagine how packed they would have been after all those months of being empty. The sign shows a man pouring a drink and maybe a little tipsy, as looking t it makes you feel like you’re seeing double.
Follow the music
Street signs are there to give instructions or warnings to drivers and pedestrians. But as Clet has discovered, that is not all these signs can be used for. We’re kind of hoping this takes off and street signs everywhere are decorated, so to speak.
This sign directs people to take a left turn, but it’s a little jazzier than your typical notice. A neatly drawn guitarist is having a good time, and he is probably telling the drivers to listen to some good music and enjoy the drive.
Let love live
One of the constant things about the human race is that we keep moving forward with life, no matter what it might bring us. If you look through history books, it starts to feel like a miracle we’re still here.
Society has evolved, as have our values, and we have all become more understanding of people who feel, live, and think differently than we do. We need every type of person to keep our communities rich, full, and interesting, and everyone should feel free to tell their story.
We often don’t even realize it, but society aims to restructure us into the perfect people that it wants. They – whoever “they” might be – give rules for all to abide by; they point and expect all to follow in that direction.
This sign is a good way to depict what is going on in our society today. We should think for ourselves and not just blindly follow whatever we’re told. The key is to take the initiative in our lives and be free thinkers.
We all remember it was like at the beginning of 2020, and it was rough for many of us. But as always, there was hope on the horizon that things would be okay. That’s the feeling this sign is meant to convey. The little man is emerging from darkness.
The message is profound and certainly does not only apply to one situation or set of events. We have all had moments where we were down in the dumps, feeling melancholy, had the blues – whatever you want to call it. The feeling of coming up to the light again is glorious.
We mentioned earlier that all humans have that natural tendency to do bad things, and we all know cats relish their naughty side. Their independence and apathy are part of what makes them a source of laughs and internet memes.
What curbs stops us from giving in to our impulses is often a combination of human decency and the fear of being caught. Cats don’t have this, and Clet wonders what life would be like if we were all more “cat-like” – as in, straightforward and less caring about certain rules.
Signs tell us when to cross, who can cross, the direction to go, the amount of time we can use on that path, and many other messages. Lucky for us, we have artists out there who make these everyday “decorations” a little more exciting.
These signs are an excellent foundation for fantastic artwork. Take this image as an example; the sign indicates a roundabout, but we also know that is the way sharks circle around when they find prey or sent of blood. Clever and cute, Clet.
Art has been around since the beginning of time; we can see evidence of these all around us. From the streets of our towns to even the museums, we can see works of art everywhere we look, and everywhere we go. It’s something beautiful about being human.
One of the more famous artworks from back in the day is the sculpture of David by Michelangelo. This sculpture is a masterpiece that has been seen for many years and is still in existence, and Clet decided to honor the people of Florence with his tribute.
Here you go
Current events might have inspired this one, but we think this can be interpreted in many ways (such is the beauty of art). Perhaps at first, you see something charming and cute: a gentleman holding the door open for you.
But another way to see is is the door of opportunity opening before you. Where will it lead? What is your destiny? As you can see, it is opened with a friendly gesture, indicating that all you have to do is take the first step towards the future.
A break from the mundane
The advancement of technology has made life easier and more convenient all over the world. These new gadgets and innovations have reduced human labor and increased enjoyment, but sometimes life can still become monotonous and dull. We have days where we simply go with the motions.
And then we get small gifts like this. We could speak for days about what’s coming out of the exhaust pipe. But we can also take a moment to appreciate that someone took the time to turn something as hum-drum as a street sign into a clever piece of art.
Sunrise or sunset
The weather is a beautiful phenomenon that we humans have been trying to understand for a long time. We often see the sunrise or sunset, and it takes our breath away. Then we remember there has never been a repeat of any single one.
Every day is new, and every sunrise is unique. We can also see this sun peeking from eh clouds as exactly as the artist intended: the warmth and tolerance we find in our fellow man are enough to melt the cold we feel in our hearts during hard times.
We, humans, are the most intelligent creatures on the planet, and we can see this in our ability to create and communicate complex ideas. We can think up some fantastic visions and bring them to fruition. Just think of the most beautiful buildings you’ve seen. That’s a testament to our brains!
This sign is a good example of human creativity. The original message on the sign reads, “arret,” which means “stop” in French, but Clet looked at the sign and saw something more: ART. We can view any and everything as a testimonial to our ingenuity.
The news we read nowadays is very discouraging, and it is full of sad stories. Many people have lost hope in what can be. But there is always a glimmer of hope, and this feeling of despair can be rectified.
The artist has tried to give a little hope and something for the viewers to smile about as they go about their daily life. Here is the classic symbol of peace painted onto this sign for all to see and enjoy.
Art is broad; it is not limited to intricate sculptures or paintings so detailed you can see the subjects breathing. Art can be anything and everything; that is a beautiful thing. It is the expression of a creative mind, and it can take any form.
This seemingly simple drawing is art. From the image, we can see a wine glass upturned and spilling all over, making it seem like the sign was initially made of wine. These brilliant visual puns, so to speak, make our days a little brighter.
Culture is a beautiful thing; our culture represents the beliefs and traditions of those that have come before us. It is a great way to keep us connected to our roots and remember where we came from. That connection helps us feel grounded.
There are innumerable cultures around the world, and each one has its significance and importance in the tapestry of humanity. This piece is from the street of Kaohsiung in Taïwan. The traffic engineers, according to Clet, were proud to put this sign up.
To those in government positions, who determine the fate of so many, how do they make decisions? Is it challenging to do something else and wrap their minds around other concepts? They certainly have the power to water the flowers that are their citizens.
They can take a cue from the sign. Life doesn’t have to be serious all the time. There are ample opportunities to bring a little light and love into the world, starting with the smallest acts. If this influences the “people at the top,” so much the better.
One of the great things about being human is that we can think and do things by ourselves. We can decide who we want to be and what we do with our lives. We can pursue our happiness on (basically) our terms.
There is so much negativity if you look for it, but you have a choice to look for the good too. This tells us the way to go, and that is the way of love, probably the only way. As the Beatles said, “all you need is love.”
Rock, paper, parking space
Human society is a very interesting one, there are several people on this planet, and each individual has their unique trait or way of reasoning. This diversity gives us a well-developed system. It forces us to look up and open our minds.
One of such is in Hamburg, where they play a game of rock paper and scissors to determine who gets which parking space. In light of this, Clet has made a special sign art for them, and we can see their culture depicted.
Worm in the apple
We all love a nice piece of fruit. It’s one of the joys life has afforded us. Unfortunately, nature has made it such that we are not the only ones with eyes on the fruit; there are insects and, of course, worms.
We can view this as another cute picture. We probably all colored pages in coloring books with a smiling worm wriggling out of an apple. But as with all art, we can look at it differently. If our beautiful world is the apple, what would be the worm?
The world we live in today is full of so many technicalities and laws that limit how freely we can express ourselves. We might have come a long way in that respect, but we all probably still feel a bit stifled in some aspects of our lives.
This piece was done to inspire other artists with a message of encouragement and support. Through the years, decades, centuries, millennia, humankind has depended on its methods of self-expression to keep positive and hopeful. We all owe much to our artists.
Stop / stART
The significance of art can’t be explained enough, as we have seen from this article thus far. It is the defining foundation on which a lot of cultures are built. It is a seemingly abstract concept that takes on numerous forms.
Art is a means of mediation, and it opens a lot of doors both emotionally and psychologically. This sign has a powerful meaning. Where it says stop, with the aid of art, it becomes a sign to start. Start living, start creating – just start!
We have seen how society sometimes seems to have it out for the underdog. And again, as we’ve mentioned, we can all get caught in the routine of “making it.” We pause and wonder, is there more? Clet is here to tell us, yes!
This sign is a call for attention or a caution sign, but Clet has made it into something more alive. This sign can be a call to prayer, or a wish to be different, to stand out from the crow and become what society can’t hold back.
There is too much bitterness in the world, but it doesn’t have to dominate everything. We can feel empowered to make a difference and add some love to the world. Maybe our cars can’t enter this lane, but joy and peace sure can!
We are meant to show positivity and love; it’s as part of our natures as breathing and enjoying the sunshine. This sign gives us the answer. It has been elevated to more than just a piece of metal with a sign on it and is now a symbol of love.
The great part about art is that it brings life. It can make a completely random and meaningless collection of supplies and transform them into a symbol of hope, or a beacon with a message, with just the stroke of a brush.
This random sign tells a direction to go, and that’s all it did until it met with a powerful mind. Taking a good look at it, we see a lady looking back at us, with a glance in the direction we are meant to take as if she will be watching over us.
We can argue that traffic signs are there for our safety and whatnot, but there are still many people who have a hard time following them. We might be those people, or you might be. No judgment on our part.
What can be done? Maybe making the signs a little sweeter will help. We can see the creative way to make the mundane a little more exciting from this image. This doughnut with the delicious-looking glaze is certainly a nicer way to get the message across.
Light the way
We have all had those days where nothing feels right. It is easy to fall into despair the way things are, but it helps to remember the good stuff. That first sip of coffee in the morning; sheets straight from the dryer – these small pleasures can be everything.
Nowadays, getting up each day and going what is right is no longer the issue; the main problem that most face is finding the strength to do it. This is why Clet has made this artwork, to depict what we need the light to find the way.
Living in this era can be a bummer, but thank goodness for memes, music, and art. Things are hard, but we can always find ways to lift each other up into a cheerful mood. Sometimes it’s as simple as painting a smile on a street sign.
It is easy to forget to smile, and even though a smile seems like a tiny thing, it can go a long way. This sign is a reminder for all that see it to keep our chins up and look forward to the good things we have.
Small dog, Big bone
This saying goes, the patient dog eats the fattest bone; it is meant to be a motivation for people. The adage encourages people to be patient, and good things will come to them in due time. We have a few sayings with the same gist, right?
Many people probably get frustrated at these platitudes. So this is a more ironic image. Of course, Clet wants to encourage us, but he also understands that some cliches are better left behind. They often ignore many aspects of truth.
Law of nature
The world we live in is a world that is full of beauty if we look for it. Sure, we can focus on what is unfair and unjust, but often what gives us strength to fight the negative things are those that offer us a little reprieve from the darkness.
Embracing nature more is a way to let the light in. One thing we all love about some graffiti art is that it elevates our concrete jungle into something beautiful. Finding more opportunities to add beauty to our surroundings can go a long way to lifting our spirits.
Here is another clever piece of Clet’s that can be seen as a nice picture and something much more profound. Even though this little guy has no face, we get the sense that he is pensive and late for something “important.”
What is the message here? It depicts what role laws would have in an ideal society. These laws are meant to be a bridge that brings people together, to build a proper society free of hate and discord, rather than keep people apart.
This is one that reminds us a little of Tom and Jerry, except this little mouse has a look of resignation. We can’t help but feel, though, that he still has a chance of making it out. Who knows? He might get away!
The cat ears sticking represent danger threatening the mouse, and we can see this as a metaphor. Or we can take some of the lessons we have learned above and see it as something cute to look at rather than a boring old sign.
We are flourishing
If people can earn to love and accept everybody for who they are, the world will turn for the better. There will be unity and peace and progressively room for creative thinking that can improve the quality of life.
This sign tells us that everybody will be better off after accepting love, and growth and enlightenment will undoubtedly follow. Just as plants can grow through concrete, we can face and overcome any adversity or challenge that comes our way.
Cut it out
We are quick to close up and turn our backs to people that we see as outsiders or are unfamiliar with. We have become suspicious. While this behavior is understandable, it is not always necessary. We can break down the walls that are built between us.
Instead of stopping people from approaching us, we can take apart our barriers brick by brick and let people in. This artwork says it better than we can: let love live and let people come into the sanctuary of your heart.
Run to love
This might just be our favorite of Clet’s entire series. We see figures running through stripes of black and white to embrace each other. This message is as clear as you can get, and we encourage every city to put one of these up!
No matter your color, background, religion, beliefs, we are all one people, and inside we all want love and connection. The time we spend with those we love is the most valuable, and we can agree it’s what makes us feel the most fulfilled.
Put on a happy face
Let us take a moment to shed the adult facade of propriety and etiquette so we can laugh heartily at this goofy sign. This one might be simple, but it has immense power to put a smile on our faces.
We’ve seen a hundred yield signs in our lives, but now we can imagine each one we see as a big smiling face instead of something mundane. Sometimes letting our childish imagination run a little wild can make the days sweeter.
She’ll get there
This is another one we can all smile at because of its simplicity and the cute message behind it. The caption to the Instagram post says simply, “Young girl running to her love.” What an adorable way to adjust an ordinary sign.
The way she’s lifting her “dress” shows us her excitement. Maybe she hasn’t seen her love in a long time, or perhaps just a few hours, or a few moments. We all want to feel this much enthusiasm when in love.