Prior to digital technology, meticulously hand-painted billboards were the norm. However, in the 1990s, computer-painted and printed materials became standard. More recently in the first decade of the 2000s, LED lighted and completely digital billboards have become popular.
Waheed, who worked in this profession for 45 years, said: “Outdoor advertising has changed a lot in the era of digitalisation. It has become something else that has nothing to do with art. It turned into digital illustrations.”
In a small workshop located downtown Cairo, Waheed sat surrounded by the history of advertising; dozens of old hand drawings and designs hanging on the walls of the workshop. He bemoaned many calligraphers and painters who left the profession because they are no longer needed. “Advertisement is no longer an artistic profession that requires great effort in understanding the nature of what is being advertised.”
Waheed said he used to spend a lot of time working with his father in this profession. They paint colourful advertisements on buildings. Those ads have retained their details and colours to this day.
Photography by Asmaa Gamal