Street Art Graphics
These digital archives present street art stickers from Canada, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries around the world. The first archive of over 2,700 stickers was initiated in 2004 in a program called ContentDM. In 2015, the U.S. Council of Independent Colleges selected the Street Art Graphics archive to be included in Artstor’s Shared Shelf Commons, an international digital library of arts and sciences. SLU received a four-year grant to migrate and build the collection and to enhance its use in teaching and scholarship. See also the People’s History Archive for mini-online exhibitions based on these collections. Today, Street Art Graphics also appears in Jstor.
Unlike bumper stickers, street art stickers measure about 2x2 to 4x6 inches in vinyl or paper. Stickers can be mass-produced in large quantities through fast, cheap online commercial printing services. Many “do-it-yourself” artists create one-of-a-kind doodles and drawings using crack-and-peel adhesive paper, while others 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 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 “tag” a wall or sign, leaving behind words and images that are mysterious or mundane, and thereby claiming a space temporarily as one’s own. Shepard Fairey’s notorious “Obey Giant” stickers now plaster the globe and function 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.” In addition, stickers can be used to promote goods and services, from hip-hop music and personal blogs to skate decks, energy drinks, and clothing.
Some stickers express anti-authoritarian sentiments dealing with issues that are highly political and specific to time and place, both local and global, including war and conflict, consumer capitalism, environmental degradation, and identity politics of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and nationality. Recent political stickers survey the 2008 Obama election, Occupy and indignados protests in the United States and Spain, respectively, and student strikes in Canada.
Also included are several historical stickers from the early to mid-20th century. “Stickerettes” or “silent agitators” created by the Industrial Workers of the World, 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.
Many stickers in the collection were donated by Oliver Baudach, the founder and director of Hatch Kingdom, the world’s first museum devoted to stickers. In addition, the Street Art Graphics digital image collection in ContentDM 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 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.
For more information or to contribute to the collection, please contact Catherine Tedford, Gallery Director, or visit her research blog Stickerkitty.
Ah, the knowledge of impermanence that haunts our days is their very fragrance.
- Rainer Maria Rilke
Digital Collection Search
- animal rights/veganism
- gender and sexuality
- I.W.W. "stickerettes"
- Obey Giant
- U.S. Presidents/Elections
- Vietnam War
Exhibition, Student Research, Cataloguing Project:
- Arab Spring (Egypt): Rebecca Clayman ’17
- Antifa Jugendfront (Germany): Carolyn Dellinger ’16
- Economy, environment, gender & sexuality, Catalan independence movement (Spain): Marina Llorente's Spanish students
- "Oversized & Underpriced" exhibition
- "Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers" traveling exhibition: Kate Savage ’15
- "Weaving the Streets & People's History Archive"