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.