• Erica Stella

The Lookout: Ladies Night Out with Jilly Ballistic

Photo by: Erica Stella

Jilly Ballistic started out spraying excerpts of her own writing onto garbage waiting for pickup on the sidewalk; matching the literature to the objects found: a sofa, ceiling fan, busted stove. Creating installation pieces, she would do this in the middle of the day, and folks in the neighborhood would inquire. This sparked her addiction with public art and expression, a perspective to share with her city.

Shortly after, the subway became her canvas. For Jilly, it's the most inspirational place to work: the ads, platforms, architecture, and the rush of people, the train cars themselves. More so than the streets, the MTA is a highly recorded environment, and she has to work fast. Before deciding on her current brand, she experimented with various pastes and spray adhesives until she found the one that works with the surfaces down underground.

For Jilly, it's the most inspirational place to work: the ads, platforms, architecture, the rush of people, the train cars themselves.

Photo by Erica Stella
Photo by Erica Stella

The most successful pieces are the ones that fit seamlessly with their surroundings. She wants you to do a double take wondering if what you're seeing is supposed to be there or not. She wants you to question if that was there the day before. The wit and humor in her pieces are necessary when dealing with a heavy topic.


I met up with Jilly on a Brooklyn subway platform, where she had scouted a clean surface beforehand. It was the smooth surface of the subway tile she was looking for, although seeking high visibility as well. An uneasiness of doing illegal installations in the station was completely lost on Jilly, as she confidently took up space on the platform to roll out her work, and get started. I tucked myself in a corner so I would unassumingly document her application. She had 2 pieces to install that night, and each had its special moments. With every temporary piece she places in our metro, I know she’s moved a lot of NYers!

Photo by: Erica Stella
Photo by: Erica Stella

The streets of NYC embody the greatest writers and artists throughout the world, and many are women.

Photo by: Erica Stella

It is an absolute credit to all generations of women that today's female artists thrive in a still sometimes misogynistic "boy's club" culture. The streets of NYC embody the greatest writers and artists throughout the world, and many are women. And some artists use an alias, which often doesn't indicate gender. There is no clear idea how many female artists are out there on the streets - I want to thank Jilly Ballistic, for blazing a trail in her own voice, and having the confidence to show NYC who she is today!

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