Many businesses and shopkeepers in Somalia—which is one of the world’s poorest nations—can not afford luxuries such as backlit signs and vinyl posters to advertise their products and services. They instead rely on local artists to decorate their storefronts. Low literacy rate requires that these hand-painted signs be accompanied by visual depictions of the products they sell.
Hand-painted signs gained popularity during the 1990s when Somalia was engulfed in a civil war after the collapse of the country’s military dictatorship in 1991. Artists who couldn’t sell their paintings after the breakout of the civil war offered their talent to local businesses.