Tag Archives: street art


Or fairies if you prefer… but nymphs is far more fun to say.  Try it.


See what I mean?

Here’s the finished product…  I think they did this all in one day.  Pretty cool, eh?



I talked to Mark Bode for a few minutes while he worked. He hopes to produce more murals in the neighborhood by coordinating with local property owners, including the big recycling plant on Peralta (Custom Alloy). I’m hoping to do a more in depth interview with him in the future.

Until then, thank you Bode!

Mural Project coming soon…

So this is where it all started…


My Oaktown Art blog that is. It really began with this mural, and a small inscription that read “Peralta Street Mural Project coming soon… Please Respect.”

I had driven or biked past this stretch of Hollis Street hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the last decade or so… it’s on the way to Home Depot, the Post Office, my bank, my work, Trader Joes, and more. It’s practically a daily occurrence. And one day… a few weeks ago, this gorgeous girl caught my eye. She had materialized literally overnight.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll fill you in on more of the story, including my meeting with the artist…


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….


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.


And another…


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)


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?


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”


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.


I saw this artist’s first sticker just outside my house… the same speedbump signpost as our “remember: shame is a 4 letter word” sticker from Monday.  Recognize it? (Note yellow house in background.)

Since seeing this first one, I’ve seen other works by this artist all around West Oakland and Uptown.  I saw one the night of Art Murmur on the front of a stop sign (people more often slap stickers on the backs of traffic signs).  I saw several the other day on my ride down the Mandela Parkway greenbelt.

What’s cool about this artist’s stuff is that many of them are individual, original pieces of art.  He/she has a whole slew of stickers around that are hand drawn on various United States Postal Service labels (this one’s actually two), and then slapped up.  A unique little work of art with no reproduction involved.  I think this is so cool.

What’s also neat is to recognize an artist’s work as you move about town… I recognized other pieces by this same person after seeing only one because his/her style is very distinctive and he does a lot of faces similar to this one, with a wide square nose, oblong head, and various hats or hair.


The use of thick lines and USPS labels also seems to be trademark.  Here’s the one I saw the night of Art Murmur


And for those of you who’ve made it this far and are twisted enough to notice or care, I’m fairly certain that’s chocolate frosting dripping off the stop sign, and not poo.

Stickem’ Up!

So I think the first time I even noticed sticker art, really noticed it… I mean, had an image stuck in my mind (no pun intended) and thought about it long afterwards, was during the Obey Giant campaign in the early 90’s, which made its way all the way to San Francisco from its origination in Providence, Rhode Island.  I had seen the stickers, stuck everywhere, for years.  It wasn’t until my friend Zak asked me if I knew what they were about, that I realized I had just assumed that “Obey Giant” was the name of a band and that these were promotional stickers for some rock group.  It had never crossed my mind that these might be art, and that the artist might be promoting something different than merchandise or an event…

As everyone now knows, Obey Giant was the creation of Shepard Fairey who achieved mass recognition and mainstream notoriety last year with his indelible incarnation of Barack Obama in red and shades of blue.  We’ve all seen it.  Fairey’s image became the publicly-but-not-politically-endorsed campaign image, and subsequently became the subject of a lawsuit regarding ownership rights of the original photographic portrait of Obama that Shepard used as his basis..  But I digress…

We were talking about stickers.

The Obey Giant stickers paired the word “Obey” with a graphic image of Andre the Giant, in stark black and white.  You can read all about the experiment in phenomenology that Shepard Fairey intended with this campaign, and more that you ever wanted to know about stickers in his essay on Sticker Art.  It begins…

“Sticker’s rule. When I pause to think about it, stickers have changed my life.

And with that sentiment, I leave you with this lovely whimsical sticker, found along the Mandela Parkway bike route, which incidentally, was a great addition to my West Oakland neighborhood…