Here are some of the words I've encountered while documenting fading mural advertisements.

fading ad - not knowing what to call these evanscent remnants of our commercial past, I called them fading ads and created the Fading Ad Campaign website in February 1999 after an exhibition of 24 of the original images at the New-York Historical Society from July - Nov 1998. The name caught on even though they have been known as ghost signs or ghost ads prior to my renaming them.

ediglyph- a term Jump invented from the words edifice (building) and petroglyph (ancient stone wall etching). Ediglyphs encompass fading ads and graffiti.

pentimento- A pentimento (plural pentimenti) is an alteration in a painting showing that the artist has changed his mind as to the composition during the process of painting. The word derives from the Italian pentirsi, meaning to repent.

external image 009.jpg

Street art and photography

The term has sometimes been used in a modern sense to describe the appearance of the sides of buildings with painted advertising. Often they are painted over with newer ads and the paint wears away to reveal the older layers.

Examples of this can be found at http://www.fadingad.com and http://www.frankjump.com that had been taken by Frank H. Jump in Amsterdam, 1998. The caption was "Amsterdam August 1998- This an example of what I call "ediglyph" - where fading ads and graffiti intersect". http://www.fadingad.com/009.html

(taken from Wiki-pedia)


Petroglyphs are images created by removing part of a rock surfaces by incising, pecking, carving, and abrading. Outside North America, scholars often use terms such as "carving", "engraving", or other descriptions of technique to refer to such images. Petroglyphs are found world-wide, and are often (but not always) associated with prehistoric peoples. The word comes from the Greek words petros meaning "stone" and glyphein meaning "to carve" (it was originally coined in French as pÊtroglyphe).

The term petroglyph should not be confused with pictograph, which is an image drawn or painted on a rock face. Both types of image belong to the wider and more general category of rock art. Petroforms, or patterns and shapes made by many large rocks and boulders in rows over the ground, are also quite different.

300px-Newspaper_rock.jpg
(taken from Wiki-pedia))

wall dog- industry nickname for sign painters.

With the sign painters will disappear the last traces of an era of American advertising when itinerant sign painters ruled. Nicknamed "wall dogs," these men traveled the country from the 1920s to the 1950s spreading the first national advertising campaigns. They emblazoned the sides of barns with logos for products like Mail Pouch Tobacco and Coca-Cola.

The men earned a reputation for being wild, said St. Louis-based photographer William Stage, who published a book about the "wall dogs" and their work. "They would drink beer as they hung from rope scaffolds high above the street, and spill paint on cars and people below," said Stage.

In many cities, including New York, traces of the wall dogs' handiwork can still be seen. The lead-based paint of the old ads survived time and weather.

Although Gonzalez may think his craft is nearly extinct, his work and that of other "wall dogs" may not be forgotten. A small but devoted band of photographers and urban archeologists across the country has tried to preserve and document the remaining ghost signs. And in Los Angeles, outdoor advertising companies have seen an increased demand for painted signs after the city outlawed large vinyl draped signs two months ago. In Fort Dodge, Iowa, a building was torn down revealing a red, white and blue Coca-Cola ad on the adjacent building. The town is debating whether to restore the sign.

"People are drawn to them because it reminds them of another time," said Frank Jump, a New York-based documentary photographer who has photographed thousands of old ads over the past five years. Restoring old ads for historic or nostalgic value has become something of a trend in the Midwest, said Jump

taken from: The wall dogs' last stand: technology puts sign painters out of work by Leila Abboud

back to top
back to home page