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What’s a Walldog?

Walldogs are a group of Sign & Mural Artists from all over the globe.

The tradition of painting wall advertisements dates back long before today. Evidence of this can be seen as “Ghost Signs” throughout cities of all sizes. These Advertising Artists & Mural Painters of old were often called Walldogs because of the fact that they climbed ladders & scaffolds to ply their trade, often in difficult or dangerous conditions on the sides of buildings (walls) & they were worked like dogs. Hence, the name “WallDogs”!

The individual Walldog is usually as colorful (personality-wise) as the colors of the palettes they use to paint pictures.
Their stories are a fantastic history of people, places & subjects filled with great challenges & humor.
For instance, back in the Depression, many a Signpainter & Billboard Artist travelled this great country, criss-crossing the land, supporting themselves by painting whatever, wherever, whenever with what they could carry in their tool boxes, otherwise known as their sign kits. Many of these characters, good, hard working, middle classmen had hopped freight trains heading in all directions of America for destinations needing Ads painted.
These Artists had to travel smart by traveling “light”. What does that mean? They had to choose carefully what they could bring with them so they became very inventive & resourceful. A ball of string & a pencil became whatever size compass in order to render circles & even make perfect ovals ~ that’s just ONE of the ‘tricks’ a seasoned Pro would be teaching his ‘helpers’ on his treck across his self-made, unknown ‘excellent adventure’. ALL of these works were rendered BY HAND back in those days. There were ‘inside tricks of the trade’ to learn your whole career & it took that long to master them. Sometimes, these fellows would have artwork prepared by an Ad Agency ~ those were the lucky guys ~ others were just ideas scribbled by a foreman & it was up to the Artist to scale it up, grid fashion, taking it from paper, to paint on the wall.

Along with the title of Walldog, today’s mural artists have also adopted many other traditions that show in their work, from the colors they use to the design styles they practice, these murals capture that sense of nostalgia and historic significance. The only difference today is that WallDogs employ tools & technology to make their job easier but it STILL takes old world talent!

The Walldog movement began in Allerton, Iowa in the summer of 1993 hosted by Nancy Bennett. That meet was the first official Walldog meet. Dozens of Sign Artists or “Letterheads” arrived in Allerton to paint several large historic wall advertisements. Since then, the Walldog Movement has continued to grow.