They are still being done in Africa, and are usually painted on plywood or masonite. The sign boards are painted by the barbers or hairdressers themselves, or possibly by paid artists. They are colorful and fun and reflect the ancient African tradition, as well as current influences such as celebrities.
They are intended both to identify the businesses and to advertise the services offered.
Several museums have featured African Hair-dresser’s signs, including Crowning Achievements: African Arts of Dressing the Hair at the Fowler Museum of Cultural History at UCLA in 1995, and Hair in African Art and Culture at the Museum of African Art in New York in 2000.
There are even books on African barbershop signs such as these;