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The comeback of New York's painted billboards

Blog | By James Fletcher | Jul 05, 2020


The lost art of billboard painting made a comeback in 2005 when Colossal Media started. Dating back to the 1830s, so-called walldogs are the artists that hand-paint adverts in the range of 50-100ft tall. The craft’s popularity dimmed with the advent of electric signage and vinyl ads, which were much cheaper and quicker to place. The process starts in the workshop with a piece of artwork being converted into a stencil with many small holes, which the artists then lay onto the wall and ‘pounce’ it - thumping a bag of fine black powder against the stencil. The dusty lines are filled in with ink. Carefully matched colours are then hand-painted often at dizzy heights, to deliver photo-realistic results. The cost ranges from $35,000-150,000 depending on the size. The artists work in all weathers for 4-5 days, and their work typically lasts 6-8 weeks before the process starts all over again.