Tag Archives: sticker art

Slap. Smack. Stick. Stuck.

So I came across a slew of stickers last weekend while shooting some buildings downtown for my upcoming Art Deco Days (please stay tuned). I’m throwing a bunch up while I collect my thoughts on deco architecture.  Most of these are one of a kind, hand-drawn or painted works. Enjoy…

sticker art, oakland stickers, graffiti stickers

stickers on newspaper racks, oakland sticker art

dead eyes stickers, ras terms stickers, wheat pastes

chris moon, chris moon sticker, sticker art, oakland sticker art, radioactive man sticker

organ guy stickers, xray man stickers, x-ray man stickers, oakland sticker art

I’m particularly fond of these little x-ray men, where various organs and body parts are displayed in a see-through man portrayed in various colors and positions. They’re all over town, and I’m not quite sure why, but they always make me smile.

organ guy stickers, xray man stickers, x-ray man stickers

organ guy stickers, xray man stickers, x-ray man stickers

Challenge Everything.

So this is a re-purposed USPS sticker on a re-purposed stop sign… kinda cool. Unless of course that stop sign was still performing an important function. Safety first peeps!

challenge everything, usps, usps sticker,

I do like this message though… the handcuffs are “ignorance,” and the key to unlock them “education.”

ignorance, education, challenge everything, usps sticker, oakland graffit

Delightful and Disturbing

Wow… so yesterday was a bit controversial… on a couple levels.  That’s GOOD.

First, we got reprimanded for promoting illegal activity (and even making fun of the ways to not get caught… which I still think is hilarious).  Let me say here in public, what I also wrote directly to this commenter, who since, retracted his comment of critique and offered up a more positive response…

My goal here is to promote ART. Both the conventional (legal, publicly condoned/sanctioned) and the unconventional (which yes, at times, can be illegal).  I am not a proponent of altering or defacing private (or public for that matter) property without permission.  That’s ME… those are my values. For the most part, I believe the laws enacted by our representative government are designed for the benefit of society at large.  Though there have certainly been many mistakes along the way… we learn as we go.  I also said in a past post (see There Are Laws About These Things…) that I believe it’s up to each artist to decide for him/herself what is acceptable behavior, and what risks are willing to be undertaken.

We live in a society based upon liberty.  And the First Amendment to our Constitution (its position at the top of the list indicates its primary importance) guarantees us all the rights of free speech.  Yes, this can be interpreted in a mind boggling number of ways, exampled by the current legal challenges to campaign finance reform (who knew money was speech?!?)  But I would argue, and I’m sure others have too, that displays of art can be considered speech as well.

This doesn’t give the artist the right to deface another individual’s property… that person has guaranteed rights as well.  But it does guarantee the artist the right to display his message (his speech) somewhere.  And here is my beef… we’ve left few public spaces for the artists.

We’ve got plenty of abandoned, dilapidated properties in this city that certainly aren’t being tended to by their owners.  Artists take advantage of these sites because they have few other options if they want to display their art publicly, and I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.  If kids are running around w/ paint, chalk, posters, and wheatpaste in an effort to be creative, isn’t that a hell of a lot better than running around with guns and drugs?

Let’s find ways to support their creativity… channel it in positive ways, eh?  Some cities have designed skate parks for skateboarders… can’t we set aside Art parks for Artists? I personally think this would be way cool.  And a magnet, not just for artists, but art patrons and tourists alike.  My upcoming interview with Mark Bode talks about just such a project in San Francisco.  Check back soon for that…

The second controversy from yesterday’s post involved the content of the images.  A friend of mine said she found the newsprint photographs of what I assume are developmentally challenged individuals, disturbing.

I believe there is plenty of great art that can (and is designed to) delight us.  That’s one function. But there are other functions as well, and sometimes the best art, the kind that moves society forward in new ways of thinking, is, well… disturbing.

I’m not saying the wheat pastes from yesterday fall into that category… maybe they do, maybe they don’t.  What I am saying is that we can choose to live in a sanitized world where we are spared from disturbing imagery (think of the Bush era’s manipulation of the media to prevent us from seeing any of the deceased soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan).  Or we can live in a world where we confront reality… disturbing as it may be at times.

Having said all that, today I will delight you with something I think few would find controversial.  It’s another pet hospital mural by our friend Stefen from Land of the Sky Blue Waters.  It’s titled “Promenade at Lake Merrit” and was created in 2004, and dedicated to the protection of Lake Merritt in 2005.  Enjoy…

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Wheaties…

So here’s something random I came across yesterday… These are wheat pastes, which are essentially home made stickers.  These were spotted around Lake Merritt on the bases of a few light fixtures.  I’ll be covering Lake Merritt in more depth in upcoming posts… there a lot going on there right now.

Each base had a bunny/carrot cartoon on one side, and what seems to be a piece of newsprint on the other.  I have no idea if this was all done by one artist, or a pair, each claiming one side.  In either case, it’s pretty weird.

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Wheat paste is commonly used by graffiti artists to hang posters & smaller applications and is a simple solution made out of water and flour. It’s one of the most environmentally friendly adhesives because it’s made from organic materials that eventually break down.

It’s also essentially the same goop we all used as kids to make paper mache piggy banks around balloons in arts & crafts… do you remember? I do!

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Here’s a link to “the best wheat paste recipe” (self-proclaimed):
http://www.citynoise.org/article/1177

The post also offers some tips for how to go about applying your art without getting caught, and undoubtedly my favorite is “Carry a Gap shopping bag.” Who could possibly suspect a fine upstanding consumer of Gap products?  I love it!

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Deadeyes

Same artist again… I’m runnin’ with it because I’m under the gun and headed out of town… Who knew this blogging stuff would be so time consuming?! Jeeeeezz….

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This is the first one I’ve seen that’s titled. How does the title impact your experience of the image? What does it mean to you? Do you like it? Send me some comments. Pulleeeeezzz.

This one spotted outside Brown Sugar Kitchen on Mandela Parkway, which has the most delectable melt-in-your-mouth waffles you’ll ever taste. Chef/Owner Tanya Holland opened a couple of years ago in this very industrial neighborhood where few restaurant options existed, then or now. I’m happy to say this venture’s been a huge success, garnering various east bay awards and plenty of regular customers. As the name says, it’s a sweet spot!

There are laws about these things…

So here’s another creation from the artist we’ve been stalking much of this week… These are much larger stickers (11 x 14″ I think) and have been reproduced, unlike the individually hand-drawn stickers from Tuesday.

It took me awhile to decipher this image, which is kind of what makes it interesting… in the first photo below you’ll see that I’ve added some yellow highlighting to help show my points.  In the top image you can see the basic face that we’ve seen on his/her other stickers (wide square nose, thick lips)… it’s almost identical to the face seen on the newspaper rack yesterday.  But in this piece, the artist has added another level of complexity. In the bottom image, see the outline of a man riding a motorcycle… the eyebrows become shoulders, the nose his torso, the lips seem to be handlebars, and there are two side view mirrors above his knees which frame the front wheel.

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And another…

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In both of these instances, the artist has chosen to place his stickers on public property…

Of course, there are laws about these things, and it’s really up to the individual artist to decide where he (she) deems it appropriate to place his art, and what risks he is willing to undertake. Many street artists feel it is hypocritical of our society to criminalize public displays of art, while endorsing massive public displays of private advertising campaigns that we literally cannot avoid.

Just the other day, I was at the corner of 51st and Broadway, and in just a portion of my line of sight were 5 huge billboards, all virtually screaming at me to buy something. Ick.

Despite this, I am definitely not a proponent of defacing/enhancing/altering (whatever you want to call it) private property without permission. My own building has been tagged with spray paint (in a manner I would not deem artistic), and I can tell you it’s a real pain in the ass to clean up.

I like Keri Smith‘s take on this subject… she uses materials that are environmentally friendly, non-destructive, or often temporary in nature (like chalk or soap), and prefers to post her creations on temporary construction walls. She rarely posts art on privately owned buildings or property. (The Guerilla Art Kit)

Meta…

So I’ve become a little bit of a sticker stalker… I’ve seen numerous stickers from our friend from yesterday all over town. I was beginning to think he/she was a West Oakland neighbor, but today I found one by Grand/Lake when I had to go to the hardware store.

This design is similar to larger ones I’ve seen that seem to have been reproduced in glossier more finished applications than his hand-drawn postal stickers. I like this one particularly because of the way it is cut out… nice touch. See the underlying same wide nose and thick lips from his faces on yesterday’s post?

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On the newspaper stand next to this one I spotted this sweet little post-it that someone had left as well… If you can’t read it, it says “Meta… to love, feel & appreciate everything to your fullest capacity without expectation or attachment”

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It’s entirely different of course, but in essence, it’s still a piece of sticker art, because it is, in fact, stuck.

Part of what got me started on this whole art blog idea was a book a girlfriend gave me for my birthday earlier this summer… a great little creative project guide called The Guerilla Art Kit by Keri Smith. It’s a nice primer on guerilla art for the novice… discussing philosophy, various techniques, and loads of exercises to get you inspired to put your art out into the world.

In her section on stickers, she includes recipes for making your own out of simple household items, including a lick-n-stick recipe made out of gelatin; info about pre-made stickers and labels (she mentions the post office labels too… no wonder they’re going broke!); and great tips about weather-proofing your stickers with packing tape, acrylic medium, and spray enamel.

One of the most adorable tips she gives is the following:

Quickest Stickers in the World
Materials: post-it notes, a pen
1. Do a drawing
2. Stick it up

And this is precisely what someone did outside the Grand Avenue Ace Hardware, which incidentally is a great store, even though the guy gave me a hard time about returning my hose.