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shot by FotoFetch

With all the excitement and press about digital programmatic changing the OOH landscape, let’s not forget the granddaddy of OOH that got us here in the first place, the painted wall, AKA “Hand Paints”, “Murals”

The documented history of this art form goes back over 5500 years; they were found in Egyptian tombs, likely promoting toothpaste and deodorant in the afterlife.  Painted advertisements on the sides of urban buildings and country barns were ubiquitous throughout the 19th and early 20th century American cities and emerging byways, the predecessor to our modern-day bulletin.

With the invention of the lithographic press in the mid-1800, color posters were introduced, but due to the combination of glue and paper, they had limitations to rival the size of their older sibling. The painted wall reigned supreme, with its large brick, plaster, and wooden canvases, selling everything from apples to zippers in their typographic splendor.

photo by Steve Lind

Last week I received a fascinating image taken by one of our FotoFetch photographers on assignment in Brooklyn, NY.  It captured a brief moment in time of a team of artisans busy with their palettes of colorful pigment working on a painted wall.  This same experience has taken place over the millennia pretty much unchanged, with artists using their trained skills painting images in courtyards, villas, temples, and public spaces throughout the ancient world. In the last several decades, painted murals have regained a rebirth covering forgotten urban structures, historic districts, and downtown buildings, honoring memorable figures, important events, ethnic cultures, and social justice. Cities have expanded and relaxed their allowance of advertising on buildings in areas deemed historical if the images are hand-painted. All this colorful hustle and bustle reclaiming many of our country’s public spaces painted with images and messages only gives our industry a positive light in our communities. So as we continue to expand into our digital world, let’s be mindful and honor the rich OOH history that got us here in the first place, the painted wall.


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