I’ve documented mostly half-painted billboards beginning in 1975 and ending in 1990 when “vinyl wraps” began to replace them. Now pixels have mostly replaced vinyl.
Some of these billboards speak to magnificence and pride directly; others provide clues about our vices, pleasures, and aspirations, like Newport Cigarettes, Black Velvet Scotch, USAIR Non-stops to Miami, and Walsh for State Supreme Court. My photographs document the visual impact of billboards, but also reveal their curious potential to be interpreted and occasionally misinterpreted. I’m attracted to the monumental scale of the billboard image, most often created from a painter’s cartoon that began as a photograph, and to the painterly, mysterious, and often ironic sense of the half-rendered image. Throughout all this I’ve been amazed at the sign painters’ craft – they work day-in and day-out in all weather, suspended on a scaffold, mostly isolated, and literally too close to see the big picture.