We see them every day in our daily lives. Pasted to signposts, fire hydrants, train seats and newspaper dispensers. Part visual stimuli, political commentary and punk attitude, they are the little cartoon blob man that catches the corner of your eye. They are a reminder that “You are Beautiful.” They are stickers.
At the corner of Damen and Chicago, Rotofugi—the local store specializing in modern pop kitsch and limited-edition toys—hosts a front window display of eighty-one stickers. The exhibit, which ran through last weekend, was in celebration of the book release party for “Peel: The Art of the Sticker.” Dave and Holly Combs, co-editors of Peel Magazine, compiled the publication’s first eight issues in a glossy hardcover book that includes a collection of removable stickers from contributing artists.
“A couple people tried to peel them off,” says Rotofugi co-owner, Kirby Kerr, in regards to attempted theft of the window sticker display. “But they’re stuck on pretty good.”
Peel Magazine explores the deep and colorful sub-culture of sticker graffiti. Artists from around the world create stickers that respond to sociopolitical issues (projects like Visual Narcotics’ anti-media protests or You Are Beautiful’s messages about positive self-image) or are simple, recurring characters (such as the demented cartoon Buff Monster from Los Angeles). Sticker artists are international, sticking on the streets of Singapore, London, São Paulo and New York. Local street artists like Toxik, Shawnimals, Travis Lampe and Blütt also contributed their own sticker art to the display.
“I’ve been looking for the perfect sticker,” says Kalena, a tourist from Las Vegas who popped into Rotofugi after viewing the display outside. She discusses the appeal of her sticker choices. “It’s a personal aesthetic. It has to be simple, kinda clever, kinda funny, but not necessarily advertising anything.”
Rotofugi clerk Ed Giepow says the most popular sticker in the window was Shepard Fairey’s contribution. Shepard Fairy is based out of Los Angeles and is most well-known for his Andre the Giant images. “Everybody wants the Shepard Fairey one,” Giepow says. “I tell them they have to buy the book.” (Laura Hawbaker)