Ghost adverts

Capturing a moment in advertising history, long before neon or lcd computer screens, product adverts were painted on to buildings and walls.

In a recent article Phil Coomes, BBC News website picture editor, featured the work of Tom Bland.

For years Tom has been interested in the many layers of design within the very public artworks.

Typography, colour and the craft of painting them, onto often a very large brick canvas, made Tom feel that these artworks should not be lost and so he began to photograph and record them.

Throughout the world a growing number of people are now realising that many of the hand painted vintage mural advertisements are being lost to the weather, the developer or simply painted over.


Here is our collection of ghost ads.  We will add to this gallery as we spot them on our travels, so keep coming back.

Maybe you know of a ghost advert in your neighbourhood. Let us know about it in the comments or send us a picture for inclusion in the gallery via the contact us form.

[slidepress gallery=’ghost-advertisements’]

Further information

BBC Cumbria ghost ads – A collection of ghost ads from around Cumbria

BBC Nottingham – Nottinghamshire historian Anne Jeffery is part of an online project which seeks to photograph, research and archive hand painted wall advertising in the UK.

Fading Ad Blog – The Fading Ad Campaign began as a photographic project documenting vintage mural ads on building brickfaces in New York City spanning nearly a century.

Old painted adverts – Painted roadside adverts

Ghost signs – This is the home of the ghostsigns project, a collaborative national effort to photograph, research and archive the remaining examples of hand painted wall advertising in the UK and Ireland.

The History of Advertising Trust Ghostsigns Archive – Advertisements painted by hand directly onto the brickwork of buildings were once a common sight in cities, towns and villages across the country. The rise of printed billboards soon led to their decline but many still survive, often faded, clinging to the walls that host them. These ‘Ghostsigns’ provide a window into the past and evidence of the craftsmanship that once went into their production. However, they are disappearing fast, often due to weathering but also as a result of property development and demolition.

Portland Building ads – Over three years of work has gone into this snapshot of ghost adverts in Portland, Oregon.

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