Street Art Graphics
This digital image collection consists of nearly 2,000 street art stickers (or simply “stickers”) from the United States, Germany, Canada, England, Spain, and Russia. Unlike bumper stickers, street art stickers typically measure about 2x2 to 4x6 inches in vinyl or paper. Vinyl stickers can be mass-produced in large quantities through fast, cheap online commercial printing services. Many “do-it-yourself” sticker artists also create one-of-a-kind doodles and drawings using crack-and-peel adhesive paper, while other artists use postal service or “Hello My Name Is" office labels to create more elaborate stencils and silkscreen prints.
Seen at eye level or just beyond reach, stickers are ubiquitous in urban centers around the world, gracing almost every imaginable surface of the built environment. Situated metaphorically at the busy intersection of imagery and content—and informed by history, mass media, commerce, and pop culture—stickers address both the personal and the political. In some cases, artists will “tag” a wall or sign, leaving behind words and images that are mysterious or mundane, and thereby claiming a space temporarily as their own. Shepard Fairey’s notorious “Obey Giant” stickers now plaster the globe and function in large part as tags. Many taggers invent avatar names, such as Tower, Prost, and Ping Pong. Artists also use humor and irony to subvert commercial advertisements in what is known as “culture jamming.” Hatch Kingdom, the Berlin-based first sticker museum in the world, incorporates such techniques with Hatch Gordon and Sticking Bull stickers. Stickers also promote goods and services from hip-hop music and personal blogs to skate decks, energy drinks, and clothing.
By their very nature, some publicly placed stickers express anti-authoritarian sentiments, often dealing with issues that are highly political and specific to time and place, both local and global. These include war and conflict, consumer capitalism, environmental degradation, and identity politics of race, class, gender, and nationality. Recent political stickers survey the 2008 Obama election, Occupy protests in the United States and Spain, and student strikes in Canada.
Also included in this digital image collection are several historical stickers from the early to mid-20th century. “Stickerettes” or “silent agitators” created by the Industrial Workers of the World (I.W.W.), for example, were used as a form of political protest in the United States as early as the 1910s. Printed by the millions, they are nearly impossible to find today. Other historical examples include 1960s-‘70s U.S. civil rights and anti-Vietnam War stickers, as well as 1970s-‘80s Catalonian separatist stickers from Spain.
In addition, the Street Art Graphics digital image collection includes 48 original artworks from Oversized & Underpriced #1 and #2, a series of exhibitions sponsored by Hatch Kingdom in which contemporary sticker artists from Germany, the United States, and elsewhere have created artworks on enlarged Deutsche Post and U.S. Postal Service mailing labels. The project was developed to benefit Hatch Kingdom and the NGO Skateistan, a Kabul-based skateboarding school for Afghan boys and girls.
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Ah, the knowledge of impermanence that haunts our days is their very fragrance.
- Rainer Maria Rilke