From Southern California, public radio for your eyes.

The last ad painters of Los Angeles

The walls of the towering buildings of Downtown Los Angeles are prime real estate for advertisers. For Estevan Sanchez, those walls are his canvas.

Sanchez spends his days hanging 90 feet above ground, paintbrush in hand. He's one of a dying breed of sign painters that make their living meticulously crafting huge, photo-real advertisements by hand.

The day I visited him with Take Two's Leo Duran, Sanchez was painting a 90- by -60-foot advertisement for the new remake of the film "Carrie."

He painstakingly shadowed the area underneath Carrie's nose, and dabbed on the lashes of her right eye.

These giant ads in downtown Los Angeles look like photographs pasted onto building facades. Look closely, and you'll see that many of them are painted by humans.

Estevan Sanchez works for LA company called Walldogs, one of the last sign painting places left in the country.

All ads used to be hand-painted, but nowadays many are printed onto vinyl and pasted onto billboards.

Some downtown L.A. buildings, like the Figueroa Hotel, however, fall under a city ordinance that requires anything on their facades to be hand-painted.

If that ordinance ever went, painters like Sanchez would be in a tough place.

Here's a trailer for an upcoming documentary on the art and craft of hand-painted signs:

You can learn more  about the art of sign painting on an episode of 99 Percent Invisible:

And here's a timelapse of the Walldogs making a three-panel ad for the game "Skyrim" in 2011:

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