Archive for June, 2013

Oli and Nada

Two of my favorite people….  on a super sticker….

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“Re-Writing the Streets” Artist Statement: REK607 (Spain)

Another great artist statement from REK607 for the Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers exhibition co-curated with Hatch Kingdom.

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Why did you choose your sticker name?

My name is REK607 from Benidorm, Spain.  I’ve chosen this name in honor of one of one of the greatest graffiti pioneers: Kase2.  Kase2 was also known as the Real Electro-magnetic King (R.E.K.), and 607 was chosen because I found many REKs and REKones.  The number is cabalistic, with a mutating meaning in a personal and constant evolution.  I’ve been known in the early years as Reptil-Uno.  This AKA was abandoned in 2003-4 due to problems with the police, but mainly because I was bored and ran out the main ideas of this Mortal Kombat’s alter ego.

How do you choose the images you use in your work?

I usually try to work with concepts and ideas that I share with my friends and mates.  I usually feel the need to express myself with drawings (much more than I do orally).  I’m not that good at drawing or painting because I don’t have all the time I would need to do this, so sometimes I get other people’s ideas or use popular characters.  I mix them with my own reinterpretation, I like to take a concept to my own personal level, showing most of the times a different vision of the character or style.

Could you describe the history and evolution of your work and/or the process?

I started painting graffiti in 1999.  I was 13 and fell in love with a girl that didn’t care that much about me.  I always liked cartoons, drawings, paintings….  I personally think it was an attention call.  After some weeks of work I accomplished my task: she loved what she saw and we started a relation that lasted almost five months.  After that I couldn’t stop, until 2003.  In that year I started University, so I didn’t have time for anything else that was not physiotherapy.  In 2009 I rejoined the game, but I found new interests in street art, not only in graffiti, which is actually a bit secondary.  I love working with the computer, pasting up posters, stickers, stencils, works on t-shirts, badges, underwear….  And I found much more respect in the public than doing my own graffiti styles in the streets of Benidorm city.

Why make stickers?

Stickers are an excellent support.  They last for a long time if you know where and how to stick em up.  They allow you to work with much modern techniques and materials (glossy paper, pvc paper, vinyl, color, b&w, metallic colors, metallic non-metallic colors…).  To me, the most important facts about stickers are: how fast you can use one, the appeal they have for traders, and how easy it can be to have your works in lots of countries and continents without leaving yours.

Who or what has influenced your work?

I focused my attention on stickers when I had no money for spray cans.  Graffiti is not a cheap hobby, but stickers are (or at least, can be).  I surfed on the net watching works from people in Europe and America with a decade or so of experience.  I found that this movement did not exist in my city, and that it was growing in bigger cities such as Madrid or Barcelona.  In 1999 and 2000, I was the first writer who bombed the city with my tags and bubbles, so I decided to repeat the story once again being the first sticker artist in the city.  There were some music or breakdancing groups with stickers or t-shirts, but none by a conceptual and individual artist.  Regarding my own style, I felt amused with good old graffiti artists such as Seen, Kase2, and Iz the Wiz.  I also like works from local artists like Chock, Henk, and F2K.  1980s and ‘90s cartoons are also vital to understanding what I do: Transformers, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Mighty Max or, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.  I am actually learning about Dalí, surrealism and paranoiac-critical method, so I expect the upcoming works to be much more weird and reflexive.

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Is there anything else you’d like to add or any message to share with others?

Well, I joined 3 years ago a sticker/street art group named International Sticker Crew.  We are writers, painters, and sticker addicts from all around the world.  Hi guys!

“Re-Writing the Streets” Artist Statement: Psychological Industries (U.S.)

A great artist statement from Psychological Industries arrived this week for the Re-Writing the Streets exhibition.

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Why did you choose Psychological Industries as your sticker name?

Had a vintage Psychology text book on the shelf.  I am a fan of vintage school text books and medical books, big time book fiend.  Have plans to open a Library, already in the works.

Anyway the font on this book made the word look cool to me.  I’m one of those that reads the dictionary and decided long words were cool and technical.  Its an attempt to make the body of work under the name Psychological Industries appear to be put together by some kind of think-tank donating designs to various social causes.

Which we actually do.  We run a fundraising campaign, One Million Buttons for Freedom, and 25%-50% of sales go to the Electronic Frontier Foundation.

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How do you choose images for your work?

Its all about conveying a message or multitude of messages. Im a Designer not an artist so an image is only as good as it is useful to convey a message. Sometimes no image is needed, sometime no text, but its often both.

“Campaigns” from Psychological Industries cover a spectrum of issues from environmental to mental to digital issues.  Women’s Rights is a constant theme, though, and RESPECT is a good example of that.  Its a newer campaign and maybe our best one yet.  A female “Che” postergirl that reveals to the viewer the juxtaposition of irrelevant struggles of the past, with the struggles going on to this day concerning women’s rights.

So yeah, image selection is important.

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Can you describe the history and evolution of your work and/or the process you use?

Being lucky enough to land a job at an old school photography development lab, they had a powerful LAN in the building with the advanced programs like Photoshop 7.  So I got to learn on the best and get into the game early.  Ive been designing and getting stickers printed since 2001 under no name at first but the designs were very similar.

Why make stickers?

Ive seen local artists in my hometown of Austin, Texas, putting up street campaigns for as long as I can remember.  The KAUFMAN LIVES stickers really stand out in my mind as an inspiration [in Austin around 2000-2003].  Ive seen vinyls up in spots that lasted 15 years or more in a campus area.  It seemed like a great way to reach the public and start getting direct feedback.  The designs most well received graduate to second printings and eventually shirts will be made.

All together I must have printed 20,000 stickers so far, maybe more.  Its hard to keep track since I also run Discordia Culture Shop.  Designing and producing stickers for indie bands, non-profits, bellydance troupes, other artists, etc.  One of our client bands, One-Eyed Doll, has won at SXSW more than once.

Who or what has influenced your work?

YUPPIE.[1]  I found this anti-gentrification campaign on the web and the dude got in trouble with his city and disappeared for several years.  All I could recall is that the YUPPIE design was meant to be reproduced by the creator so around 2005 I started printing my own vinyls of the YUPPIE design, after some slight fixes to add color to a simple black and white design.

I have been holding it down for YUPPIE all these years.  Printed postcards and 4 different vinyl printings so far.  Its been one of the most well received designs in the assortment, which is saying something out of the 100+ Psy-Ind designs in print so far.

Is there anything else you’d like to add or any message to share with others?

“The wise do not waver before blame or praise.”  – Dhammapada

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P.S. Stickerkitty didn’t really understand what “irrelevant struggles” above meant, so Psy-Ind elaborated:

The Irrelevant struggles of the past were between despairing forms of Governance mainly Capitalism VS Communism that took place between Nation/States.  With our current Post-Cold War Global Economy this sort of struggle is no longer our concern as a species.  Our current struggles involve racism, sexism, and classism.  All of which are symptomatic of a global society looking for someone to blame instead of coming to grips with the dog eat dog reality foisted on us by this new Global Plutocracy that has every nation state on a race to the bottom.

The RESPECT image doesnt go that deep, it just points to the struggles of the past that Che fought, and reasserts the revolutionary flavor of that image for our current age and specifically the Gender Issues that still persist to this day.


[1] The Yuppie campaigns only remaining presence online is inside the WayBack Machine under http://web.archive.org/web/20020208055232/http://www.yuppietakeover.com/index.php.

“Re-Writing the Streets” Artist Statement: Dave the Chimp (U.K.)

Artist statements for Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers are starting to come in.  Here is one from Dave the Chimp.

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My name is Dave the Chimp.  I became a Chimp, among other reasons, because I was sick of humans.  I’ve learnt to deal with them a little better these days!

I’m a skateboarder, and stickers are part of my culture.  “Send a buck for stickers and catalogue” is a phrase that was burnt into my teenage mind while reading skate magazines, and you can bet that when I finally got to visit America I stuffed a lot of dollars into envelopes!  Stickers are like currency in skateboarding.  Handing out stickers is like giving alms to the poor.  If you ever saw a pro at a contest, surrounded by kids, you’d understand what I mean!  All those grabbing hands!

Skateboarding has always been a punk rock, DIY thing for me.  The first time I saw friends make stickers it was skateboarder friends (The Chocolate Animals, around 1989/90).  It was amazing to me that teenage kids could make their own stuff, even if it was something as simple as screenprinting stickers.  I still find this amazing, but more of my amazement comes from the fact 99% of society DON’T make things, don’t enrich their existence with self-propelled creativity.  I guess pushing on a skateboard teaches you to be your own engine.

I started to make fanzines in the early 90’s, and paint in the street around 1998.  This wasn’t graffiti.  And it sure as hell wasn’t Street Art.  It had no name.  I just did it, and the only thing I can think of that it was vaguely like were the home made rubber stamp stickers by ZEEL that I’d seen on lampposts.  I had also made rubber stamp stickers, that I gave away with zines or to people I met at parties.  It wasn’t until five years later that I became aware there was some kind of scene forming, with stickers being the “gateway drug” into what is now called Street Art.

The vast majority of my street art has been painted – putting up stickers always seemed more like tagging, and I’ve never been in this game for the fame, only the self-expression and adventure.  And besides, you need to walk around to put up stickers, and I find walking primitive, always choosing board or bike for my transportation needs.  Lately however I’m finding myself in a sticker posting frame of mind, probably because, as a father, I now walk more, and often at a much slower pace, stopping to look at every ant and pick up every stick.  I even got into making handmade stickers while spending a week with BO130 and Microbo in Milan, which shows that, even pushing 40, the teenage kid inside is still alive.  Long may he survive!

Stickers in Poznan, Poland

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I made a quick overnight trip to Poznan, Poland, this past week at the invitation of Lukasz Niparko, a recent SLU alum.  He and I (and others) will be contributing to Weaving the Streets, a new blog on SLU’s The Weave: Mediocracy Unspun.  Part of Weaving the Streets will include photo-documentation of street art from around the world—a people’s archive, as we are calling it.  Poznan doesn’t have very many stickers, we learned, but has a bunch of wheatpastes and stencils.  Here is a wheatpaste that shows how to make stencils.

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The great-great+ grandfather of stickers

Alois Senefelder, the 18th-century German inventor of lithography, is commemorated by this statue located in a little park square at Senefelderplatz in Berlin.  His name is written in reverse, and one of the angels at the base of the statue holds a mirror.  Very well done.

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Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers

Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers

A Traveling Exhibition

Curated by Catherine Tedford and Oliver Baudach

Overview

In the last twenty years, street art has evolved dramatically from the graffiti that peppered subway stations, back alleys, and train yards, and was typically seen as vandalism.  Today, new forms of visual communication are created in public spaces, often attracting viewers in more contemplative and/or interactive ways.  Street art stickers, or simply “stickers,” have emerged as a vehicle for self-expression and an effective way to engage passersby.  Stickers may be used to “tag” or claim a space and make it temporarily one’s own, to sell products or services, to announce events, to publicize blogs or other social media sites, or to offer social commentary and political critique.  As one of the most democratic art forms, stickers can be created and distributed easily, quickly, and widely, through do-it-yourself drawings, silkscreens, and stencils, or inexpensive online printing companies.

In urban sites typically dominated by commercial advertising and corporate logos, publicly placed stickers, by their very presence, re-write the streets and produce what curator Nato Thompson calls “creative disruptions of every day life.”  Sticker artists use a range of rhetorical strategies in their work, from humor and charm to rebellion and resistance.  Representing a diverse array of voices and perspectives, stickers offer a spirited “ground up” alternative to an often “top down” media-saturated environment.  And although street art stickers are ephemeral by nature, they capture the creative, cultural, and political pulse of time and place.

Description

Drawing the finest examples from two collectors, Oliver Baudach in Germany and Catherine Tedford in the United States, the exhibition includes over 800 original, unused stickers grouped by artists, themes, dates, and geographic locations.  Oliver Baudach is the founder and director of Germany’s Berlin-based Hatch Kingdom, the world’s first museum devoted to sticker art.  Representing three decades of work and spanning genres from character design artists to skateboarding and street wear, Baudach’s collection numbers over 25,000 stickers from Europe and around the world.  With an extensive network of artist contacts, Baudach has become a leading expert in the field.  Catherine Tedford, gallery director at St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York, has been collecting stickers since 2003, and her collection numbers over 8,000 stickers from North America and Europe.  Her recent focus is on historical political stickers produced in the United States by such organizations as the Industrial Workers of the World during the 1910s and Students for a Democratic Society during the 1960s and ‘70s, as well as Catalonian separatist stickers from Spain during the 1970s and ‘80s, examples of which are all included in the exhibition.

Individual sticker artists and artists’ collaboratives who tag the streets are represented in the exhibition, though rather than using their real names, most artists adopt street names that conceal their true identities.  Well-known artists in the exhibition include Cupco (Australia); Hoplouie (Denmark); Flying Fortress, Haevi, Ping Pong, Prost, Tower, and 24/7 Crew (Germany); Bust and Sol Crew (Netherlands); and Evoker, Obey Giant, RobotsWillKill, Zoltron, and 14Bolt (United States).  Some artists tag the streets with humanoid figures, robots, animals, insects, eyes, hands, and other imaginative character designs, while other artists play with type fonts and other graphic design elements.  Such portraiture and signature stickers are widespread, whereby artists are engaged in tireless self-promotion.  Other stickers serve as social commentary and critique, and subjects addressed in the exhibition include animal rights, civil liberties, the economy, environmental issues, identity, music, political protest, and sports.

Contents

  • Fifty-two framed sets of stickers grouped by artists, themes, dates, and geographic locations
  • A main text panel that provides an overview of the exhibition
  • Two co-curators’ statements describing their history and experience with stickers
  • Thirty accompanying interpretive text panels with artists’ statements and/or artistic, cultural, and historical contextual analysis.
  • A limited edition ‘zine catalogue featuring full-color illustrations and selected artists’ statements; 25 are included with the traveling exhibition, and additional copies can be purchased for $5.00 each.
  • Contemporary sticker-related publications, ‘zines, and sticker rolls for display cases and hands-on viewing.

Outreach for Teaching and Research

Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers is geared toward college and university audiences in the United States and Canada, though the exhibition will be of interest to a broader public of all ages.  The exhibition will introduce sticker art to new audiences; offer those in academic and art circles an exciting and versatile educational resource; and provide wider recognition for an important contemporary artistic movement.  A multitude of subjects exist in this field for teaching and research in disciplines ranging from art and art history, communication studies, cultural studies, and global studies to government, modern languages, and sociology.


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