Hand Painted Barber Shop or Hair Product Sign on Wood Panel Ghana
This is an advertising sign of a type found at barber shops across all big cities in sub-Saharan Africa. Signs like this one are a key part of Contemporary African art.
Representational advertising signs became popular in the 1950s and 60s with the independence of African countries and the corresponding change in their economies, as the growth of small businesses boomed in big cities. Barbers, tailors, shoemakers and photographers started advertising their services by using painted wooden panels to identify their products and advertise their businesses. Today even restaurants, hotels, churches and the offices of traditional practitioners (marabous) advertise using signboards. Such signs are produced mainly by paid artists who specialize in commercial panels made with oil paints, using bright colors. Some of these painted panels are signed and dated by the artist. The rapid development of this art form has given birth to "popular" or "urban" art in Africa.
Barber shop signs are two-dimensional pieces depicting the latest trends in hairstyles. They can act as catalogs from which customers choose their hair-cutting or braiding patterns. The panels may include the names of each hairstyle and pattern. Sometimes patterns are named after famous personalities or the country identified with the hair style. New signs are more personalized. They may include the name of the business, its new creations and even its email address. Besides images, new signboards may also be covered by writing.
The signboard illustrated here has some age and shows signs of long use.