Old School Ads: The Art of Hand Painted Billboards

Walking through lower Manhattan this morning, I looked up to see an advertisement for the newest installment in the Batman series. As I looked closer I noticed that this particular ad was actually hand painted or at least appeared to be so. I began thinking to myself how difficult of a task it would be to paint a billboard as large as this one. This ad was at least fifteen stories high and one hundred feet wide. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. When I got to the office I did a little research. I found that a small firm located in Brooklyn, Colossal Media, specializes in hand painted advertisement located all over the five boroughs. Not only was I right about this ad but there were more of them, many more.

I was still confused on how it was possible to make such a realistic painting as large as these. I hadn’t seen such genius use of proportion since I visited the David in Florence, Italy. I watched a few videos to learn about their technique.

It seemed that they actually do use a similar approach as Michelangelo once did, scaling inch by inch from a street view to create a perfect perspective. The artists draw a massive picture on paper in order to trace the outline of the image on to the wall. They use an electric burning pen to burn through the paper onto the wall, giving them a template to paint around. Using these tools to set up the artwork is very helpful however the hard part is painting on the side of a skyscraper. Teams of artists hang off of scaffolding to get the right color in the right spot. The dedication of these artists to each painting shows that Colossal Media does not only care about business. They are upholding a long tradition of old school advertising that has hung over this city and many others for over a century.

Representing clients like Smart Car, Rockstar Games and Pabst Blue Ribbon, Colossal Media helps beautify New York City one ad at a time.

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