110+ Years of Adhesive Art & Culture

Dial it up to eleven with the expanded blockbuster edition!

In the last forty years, street art has exploded dramatically from the spray-painted graffiti that vandalized subway stations, back alleys, and train yards during the 1970s and ’80s. Today, new forms of visual communication are created in public spaces, often attracting viewers in more interactive and contemplative ways. Street art stickers, or simply “stickers,” have burst forth as a vehicle for self-expression and as an effective way to engage passersby. Stickers may be used to “tag” or claim a space and make it temporarily one’s own, sell products or services, announce events, publicize blogs or other social media sites, or offer sociopolitical commentary and critique.

As one of the most democratic art forms, stickers can be created and distributed easily, quickly, cheaply, and widely. DIY artists create one-of-a-kind drawings or stencils and screen prints in multiples on free postal stickers or “Hello-My-Name-Is” labels. Other artists upload more elaborate designs to online sticker companies that mass produce hundreds or thousands of stickers at a time. A range of rhetorical strategies can be found in their work, from humor and charm to rebellion and resistance.

Often seen hidden in plain sight at eye level or just beyond reach, stickers grace every imaginable surface of the built environment—peppering light poles, traffic signs, mailboxes, construction sites, and dumpsters alike. Stickers also adorn skateboards, musical instruments, and laptops, appealing to a hip and engaged youth culture and older n’er-do-wells alike.

Subversive in their creation, content, and placement, publicly-placed stickers offer a lively alternative to the monolithic commodification of most Western capitalist societies. In sites dominated by commercial advertising and corporate logos, stickers, by their very presence, rewrite the language of the streets and produce what curator Nato Thompson calls elsewhere “creative disruptions of everyday life.” Though ephemeral by nature, stickers capture the creative, cultural, and sociopolitical pulse of time and place.

On the one hand, stickers as a form of creative expression are unique in their straightforward simplicity, yet these modest slips of paper or vinyl can be rich in meaning and depth. Organizers of a Berlin-based sticker exhibition elaborate upon this idea,

“…unlike graffiti, […] stickers don’t have the gesture of destruction inherent in their form – [rather, they are a] gesture of connotation and satiric annotation. [Sticker] interventions are much more representative for a critical mind seeking to contribute to the social urban exchange….”

The 2025 blockbuster edition of Re-Writing the Streets: The International Language of Stickers 2.0 expands upon the 2015 edition by more than fivefold, featuring a dizzying array of adhesive-based ephemera from two of the world’s largest collections. Over 5,000 original, unused stickers in 100 frames are grouped by artists, dates, geographic locations, and subjects, including urban art, skateboard culture, character design, street wear, and tagging. Sociopolitical stickers in the exhibition address gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, nature and the environment, urban development, antifascism, capitalism and the economy, war and conflict, technology and surveillance, police reform, and other topics.

“Culture jamming” stickers figure prominently in the exhibition, in which artists play with corporate logos and references from popular culture to subvert their original meanings. Such stickers often go viral as memes or what Fairey calls “bootlegs,” both in real life and online. Interpretive text panels, artists’ statements, zines, and photographs of stickers on the streets are also included in the exhibition.

World-Renowned Sticker Collections

Since the early 1980s, Oliver Baudach (Berlin, Germany) has collected over 30,000 original, unused urban art, skateboard, streetwear, music, and pop culture stickers from scores of countries across Europe, North and South America, and Asia. In 2008, he founded the Hatch Kingdom Sticker Museum, the first and only of its kind anywhere. Highlights feature rare early stickers by the internationally renowned KAWS (USA), Nychos (Austria), D*Face (UK), London Police (Netherlands), Flying Förtress (Germany), Bust (Switzerland), as well as by regional icons Tower (Germany), Stelleconfuse (Italy), Ekiem (France), and Robotswillkill (USA). Hundreds of different Obey Giant stickers by Shepard Fairey (USA) dating from 1989 to present pay tribute to one of the world’s best known sticker artists. Limited edition sticker packs and materials related to sticker art and culture add to the depth and breadth of Oli’s unique and extraordinary collection. Quite simply put, no other collection in the world rivals his.

Catherine Tedford (NY, U.S.) first started collecting stickers in 2003 and has since collected over 18,000 historical and contemporary political stickers from the United States, Germany, Spain, Canada, England, and multiple other countries around the world. Her collection of “stickerettes” or “silent agitators” produced as early as the 1910s by the Industrial Workers of the World (U.S.) is unparalleled. Other U.S. subjects include the War in Vietnam, the 1980s-’90s AIDS crisis, and the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. International topics include Catalan independence, (1980s-present), the socially progressive Football Club St. Pauli (Germany, 2000s-present), Arab Spring (Egypt, 2011), Russian elections (2013), and the anti-war meme campaign in support of Ukraine (2022-23).

The two collections complement each other perfectly for an exhibition that spans a wide range of human expression, from the personal and political to the silly and profound.

Previous sticker exhibitions

For the past several years, Oli and Cathy have presented individual sticker exhibitions in the United States, Germany, France, Canada, and Russia. They have also collaborated on four traveling sticker exhibitions. From 2015 to 2019, the first iterations of Re-Writing the Streets and SHE SLAPS: Street Art Stickers by Women Artists were presented in U.S. college and university art galleries and museums. Both exhibitions have now been updated to include more contemporary stickers, and expanded 2.0 versions of both are scheduled to travel in the USA during 2024-25.

In 2022, Oli and Cathy also presented Inspiring | Controversial | OBEY! Silkscreen Prints & Stickers by Shepard Fairey, now scheduled for exhibitions in Europe in 2024-25.

From 2014 to 2018, Cathy presented different versions of her exhibition Paper Bullets: 100 Years of Political Stickers from Around the World at Hatch Kingdom and at colleges and universities in the United States. A much-expanded version of the exhibition was presented in 2019 at the prestigious street art Neurotitan Gallery in Berlin. A spotlight exhibition of 110+ years of sociopolitical stickers entitled Voices of the People! is also scheduled for the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, from July 3 to December 30, 2024.

Previous sticker exhibitions organized by Oliver Baudach and Catherine Tedford

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