Archive for March, 2013

Two new “stickerettes”

I’ve acquired two new unused stickerettes for my collection and sticker exhibition.  The smaller stickerette is a real favorite.  NYU has one, too.  It measures 3 1/4 x 2 3/8 inches, and the text reads: “The capitalist’s [heart] is in his pocketbook, And he uses the [club] Over you so he can wear [diamonds].  By organizing right, we can give him a [spade] With which to earn an honest living.”


The second stickerette measures 6 x 6 inches and is the largest and rarest I’ve ever come across.  It was issued by the S.F. (San Francisco) Trades Union Promotional League in 1927, and the text reads “Labor Unionism, Labor Omnia Vincit.  The World’s Greatest Promoter of Human Justice.  Let us make it ever greater.  Public Schools.  Right of the Ballot.  Workers Compensation Legislation.  Health and Safety Legislation.  Child Labor Laws.  Eight Hour Day.”


Both stickerettes are printed on a very lightweight cream paper with a gummed backing.  I would love to find a photograph of stickerettes being used back in the day!

Limited edition sticker packs

Featuring two sticker packs recently scanned for the Street Art Graphics digital image collection.  The first is a set of ten designs by Shepard Fairey for the limited edition Obey Giant Gold Sticker Pack released in 2010 in an edition of 1,000.  All of the stickers are printed in gold, red, and black on a cream background.  Nine stickers include the signature Obey Giant face within a star logo.  The package includes the text, “Manufacturing Quality Dissent Since 1989.  Propaganda Engineering.  Urban Renewal.  Obey Giant Environmental Enhancement Kit: Peel and Adhere to Customize and Improve Any Surface.  Phenomenal Results in Seconds!”  For now, all ten stickers are on my Flickr site here.


The second is a set of limited edition stickers from Hatch Kingdom, the Berlin, Germany-based first museum in the world devoted to stickers.  The set was released on September 1, 2012, and this pack is number 0195.  Artists include Dave the Chimp, Ink-A-Zoid, Ping Pong, DeerBln, Mim, and Auto64, with an extra sticker by DeineStadtklebt.  All of the stickers are also on Flickr here.


Peña Nieto sticker from Mexico

I picked up a few Mexican stickers from a group called Sublevarte Colectivo at the Boston Anarchist Book Fair last fall, and one of my students wrote descriptions for them for the Street Art Graphics digital image collection.


“Vota a Peña Nieto” literally means “Vote for Peña Nieto.”  This is an image one sees all the time in Mexico, in campaign ads, bomber stickers, and painted on the sides of houses.  While this suggests that one should vote for Peña Nieto, the message of the image is turned around with the word “asesino.”  “Asesino” means assassin and is a direct reference to Peña Nieto’s past history as the governor of the State of Mexico.  Under his watch, there was a brutal repression of activist and ordinary citizens in the town of Atenco.  Peña Nieto has the support of the Mexican television monopoly, Televisa, and is covered favorably by the media.  It is also said that Peña Nieto paid Televisa to help him win the presidential election.  This sticker counteracts the ads that everyone in Mexico has seen on television, for it contrasts the biased media coverage with an alternative narrative.  It can be literally read as: “Vote for Peña Nieto the Assassin.”  It also transforms the image of Peña Nieto himself, usually known for his good looks, into a semi-monster.  For more information, see:

Special thanks to Tzintzun Aguilar Izzo, SLU Class of ’15.

Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference (2013)

My paper proposal was accepted for the upcoming Impact 8 International Printmaking Conference to be held in Dundee, Scotland, August 28 through September 1, 2013.  The title of the conference is Borders & Crossings: the artist as explorer.  Here is my abstract below.  This presentation will include the research I’ve done in the last six months on early examples of street art stickers.

Street Art Stickers: Silent Agitators, Paper Bullets, and Night Raiders

Publicly placed stickers with printed images and/or text have been used for decades as a form of political protest or to advocate political agendas.  In the early 1900s, for example, labor unions in the United States posted “silent agitators” calling for fair working hours and wages.  During World War I and World War II, “paper bullets” were dropped from airplanes over countries across Europe to be used as combat propaganda.  And in the 1960s and ‘70s, “night raiders” in the U.S. were stuck on envelopes and elsewhere protesting the war in Vietnam abroad and civil inequalities at home.

Known commonly today as street art stickers, these persuasive examples of political ephemera are printed on paper and vinyl as silkscreens, stencils, linocuts, Xeroxes, and offset lithographs.  Some artists create do-it-yourself stickers in limited editions, while others mass-produce a thousand or more stickers at a time to distribute among colleagues and friends.  Stickers can be found on street signs, telephone poles, dumpsters, windows, or just about any other imaginable surface of the built environment.

Street art stickers continue to be used to comment upon and critique important issues of the day, to oppose authority, or even simply to engage passersby.  In this illustrated presentation, I will discuss contemporary political stickers from Germany, Spain, Canada, and the United States that address topics including fascism and right-wing extremism, national and global economic crises, student tuition strikes, and environmental issues, respectively.  Using original examples from my personal collection of over 8,000 stickers, I will show a wide range of sticker genres and explain their various formats and functions.


“Stickerette” ad in 1917 I.W.W. Solidarity newspaper

This is the first image I’ve ever seen of someone putting up stickers.  I found it in two issues of an I.W.W. newspaper called Solidarity published in Cleveland on September 9 and 16, 1917.  Stickerettes were advertised in Solidarity between at least June 24, 1916, and August 25, 1917, though I’ve seen a reference that they might have been advertised as early as November 20, 1915.  In 1916, one could buy stickerettes in packages – 110 per package cost 15 cents, or a box of 1,100 cost $1.00.


I’ve been trying to find photographs of stickerettes put up on buildings or other surfaces, too, but no luck yet.

The Wicke case continues

Good news.  Guy Wicke is indeed the son of James T. Wicke.  Here is what Guy wrote in response to my email.

James T. Wicke is my father.  He died suddenly when I was 17, so obviously anything from his youth or political activism during the 60s-70s is a treasure beyond words for me.  The Pied Piper Lane address is my grandparents’ house (his childhood home).  I’ve never heard of the organization he was supposedly acting secretary of, but I wonder if it was a bit of tongue-in-cheek grandiosity.  He was a fan of that type of humor.  Or maybe it was a real group of activists in Wisconsin.

I’m going to send Guy the envelope that the stickers came in plus some spare stickers.  Who knows, maybe at some point we’ll get to know the background of these mysterious little paper thought bombs.  A friend of mine suggested that I check Google Scholar.  Pay it forward!





Flickr Photos

March 2013