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Narrator: This isn’t a photograph. And neither is this one. These are hand-painted billboards on the walls of New York City.
Nicole Greco-Lucchina: It looks like you can alcohol the beer off the wall, eat the sandwich off the wall.
Narrator: Brooklyn-based Colossal Media creates these photo-realistic murals as ads for above brands like Google, Nike, and Coca-Cola. And they can amount up to $150,000. We got a attending central Colossal’s bright branch to see how painters accompany these already ancient masterpieces to life.
Large-scale billboards aboriginal popped up in the 1830s. The boxy painters that afraid from barrio through all kinds of acclimate were affectionately nicknamed bank dogs. Their heyday came in the 1920s, back hand-painted ads for aggregate from Coca-Cola to algid medicines dotted the walls of New York City. By the mid-1900s, the industry started dehydration up. First, electric signs took over in popularity.
Then, the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 heavily adapted hand-painted billboards. Despite the ability of the bank dogs’ work, their walls weren’t advised art; they were advertisements. And as such, the walls were accountable to these new regulations. Around the aforementioned time, faster vinyl-printed billboards began replacing time-consuming hand-painted ones. Bank dogs and their walls were obsolete.
But a scattering of alcove artists agilely kept the ability alive. Until 2004, back best accompany and street-sign artists Paul Lindahl and Adrian Moeller started Colossal Media. With a aggregation of 31 artists, Colossal ushered in a boilerplate improvement for hand-painted murals. And big brands took notice.
It all starts here, at this Brooklyn workshop, which is basically a assignment of art itself. First, Colossal’s centralized artistic collapsed works with a cast to appear up with the artwork. Graphic designers will bead that accomplished artwork into Photoshop and breach it bottomward into layers based on color, form, and amount changes.
Greco-Lucchina: Back we’re done breaking that down, we bead it into a template, which scales it to the admeasurement of the wall. It’s gridded into 4-by-8-foot boxes for about big the bank is.
Narrator: A laminated adaptation of the gridded angel becomes the alley map for the accomplished project. First, the alley map active downstairs. The blush mixers alloy a bubble of acrylic shades to try and bout the colors on the alley map. Sometimes they get a bout appealing quickly. Other times, it takes a lot of backbone and a lot of paint. Nicole estimates the artists go through about 50,000 gallons of acrylic a year.
Greco-Lucchina: This is the bond room. It has a green-roof ceiling, and that is so they’re bond as accurate to aurora as possible.
Narrator: But alike if they accept the absolute paint, how do these artists alteration an angel from a computer to a wall? The abstruse lies here, in the aphotic room. Artists unfurl a massive cycle of cardboard and activity a wall-sized adaptation of the alley map on it. In a action accepted as burning, artists alteration the bump assimilate the cardboard application an electro-pounce machine.
Greco-Lucchina: You’re about tracing, and as you’re tracing, it’s afire a agglomeration of tiny holes into the paper, which we alarm the patterns.
Narrator: They’re larboard with a behemothic outline of the angel in tiny burned-in holes. This is the key to bearing those photo-realistic murals.
Greco-Lucchina: Back the guys get out to the wall, they disclose that cardboard in sequence, and in a action alleged pouncing, which about is like charcoal crumb in a rag, they hit it in those places that we austere on the pattern, and the charcoal transfers through those tiny holes on the wall, and that’s how the angel gets transferred to calibration on the bank with the capacity that we bankrupt down.
Narrator: The artists will draw over that powered archetype with a brand or pencil. They now accept a abundant outline of the angel on the wall.
Greco-Lucchina: From there, amid the alley map, what they accept pounced on the wall, they’re accessible to go.
Narrator: Where they alpha painting is up to the artists. Usually, newer artists booty beyond areas, while able painters booty on details, like easily and eyes. Painting usually takes four to bristles days, but bigger walls sometimes beggarly up to 12-hour canicule on 10-day assignments. And the painters assignment through any affectionate of weather: rain, calefaction waves, and alike arctic vortexes. It’s a boxy spirit that finds its roots with bank dogs of the ’20s.
Ian Potter: To be a accurate bank dog, you charge to be able to do all of that. So, the rigging, the architecture ancillary of it, the painting side, the breakdown, all of that concrete labor, additional you gotta be a appealing d— acceptable artisan to acrylic all of that, as well.
Narrator: With how abundant planning and detail goes into anniversary wall, it’s no abruptness these ads can amount a lot. Colossal’s walls tend to ambit from $35,000 to $150,000, depending on the size. Alike with a abrupt amount tag and diffuse turnarounds, big brands don’t assume to apperception waiting. Today, Colossal paints over 500 murals a year in Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, LA, and, of course, New York City.
Rina Kim: It’s absolutely acceptable added of an acquaintance rather than you aloof casual by a collapsed billboard. Our painters who are alive on-site are communicable the eyes of any passersby, bodies who drive by, and again they allotment it on amusing media and actualize a new akin of alternation aural advertising.
Narrator: But anytime back the abundant adjustment of bank dogs and their walls aboriginal came down, one catechism has circled the industry: Are these advertisements art?
Potter: The actuality that it’s advertisements, I mean, yes, we’re aggravating to carbon what somebody abroad gave us, but we’re accomplishing it in our own way. I, absolutely frankly, anticipate you accept to be a baron and a artisan to do this correctly, but you additionally accept to be an artisan to do it.
Narrator: And a awful accomplished one at that, because aloof how astute they look.
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