In many parts of the world, billboards can be found in cities and along roads and highways. While most billboards are straightforward advertisements for products and services, some of them are not. Here are some billboards that serve other purposes.
EXPERIMENTAL ART CANVAS
This offbeat billboard in Indiana no longer exists. It was a frame within a frame. The billboard functioned as a frame to hold the eyeglass frames made of many pieces of junk. The only other information I have about this billboard is the following description from Wikimedia Commons:
A colossal pair of eyeglass frames mounted on the front of a billboard. The glasses consist of a steel frame with over 1,000 items of scrap metal mounted on the front of the frame. Objects include lawn mowers, bicycles, a tricycle mounted on a spring which moves. The front end of a blue Chevy is the nosepiece. Other items include fan blades that spin, the hood of a Volkswagen Beetle, bed springs, the front of a snowmobile, an organ pipe, a garden cart and a hobby horse. A large salestag hangs from the bottom proper left corner of the eyeglasses.
SOCIAL COMMENTARY SIGNS
Besides holding or becoming artwork, billboards can be used as literal platforms for social commentary. What better place to vent about a social and/or personal issue than on a billboard? You can be anonymous and reach a wide audience at the same time.
Anti-advertising billboard in Wellington, New Zealand
Photo by Michael Denton
Anti-government American Red Cross billboard in Santa Cruz, California
(vandalized by the Billboard Liberation Front)
Photo by Billboard Liberation [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Personal billboard in Louisville, Kentucky
Photo by Nyttend (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
MESSAGES BEYOND THE BILLBOARD
Finally, some billboards serve a higher purpose than providing a mode of expression for creative and frustrated people. They become part of a larger display of life’s twisted sense of humor. Consider the following vintage photo taken in during the Great Depression when most people struggled to come up with money for food:
Toward Los Angeles
Photo by Dorothea Lange [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Another way the universe likes to play with billboards is to place two billboards with conflicting or mutually subversive content close together so that a third (usually funny) message results from their union. The following photo shows an unfortunate billboard pairing of catering and paramedic services:
You can see a great collection of these type of billboards in “15 Hilariously Inappropriate Billboard Juxtapositions”. I will leave you with links to a few of these pictures. Enjoy!