Stickers occupy a liminal space between street art and lowkey vandalism, depending on your point of view, and perhaps on your affection for whatever was stuck-upon. But as intimately scaled works of art they are also ripe for the attention of obsessive collectors, as evidence of a global visual culture phenomenon operating across styles and generations. In Stickers 2: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art (aka More Stuck Up Crap), British DJ and one of those aforementioned obsessive collectors, DB Burkeman, further chronicles this sticky love affair in the follow-up to his acclaimed 2010 volume, which revolutionized appreciation for the genre.
At 256 pages, plus 16 sheets of glossy peel-outs, the heft of the new tome is an impressive matter, with pounds of physical substance and the gravitas of a gorgeously produced fine art book. But at the same time, its design is clever and clean, as layouts alternate between the chaos of a club wall accumulation, a lovingly organized collection, and a tidy research archive. The whole is peppered with observations and anecdotes from a number of the many hundreds of artists included, as well as collectors, publishers, and counterculture aficionados.
In a foreword to the book, art dealer Jeffrey Deitch writes in part, “The sticker may be the most efficient art medium ever invented. The artist’s vision is distilled onto a tiny surface smaller than a postcard [that] can be displayed wherever the artist can get away with sticking it, usually in a strategic location where thousands of people will see it.”
And indeed the book runs the gamut from furtive appliques to ambitious interventions, from writing and sketches on name tags and postal labels, to full-on high-end miniature works of art; enacting political and commercial subversions, visual puns, or just outright anarchist claiming of public space.
In his own introduction, artist Invader acknowledges the depth and breadth of Burkeman’s undertaking, writing, “The author has an obsession, a true passion.” And indeed Burkeman is a true believer, donating a percentage of proceeds to Skateistan, which empowers at-risk kids through skateboarding, and describing his own sticker-adjacent interests as stretching between “…the history of American skate brands; British origins of punk rock through new wave, into contemporary indie rock; electronic music artists and their labels; as well as fine art and street art from the ’80s through to now.”
Stickers 2: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art (aka More Stuck-Up Crap) by DB Burkeman, pages 42-43
In service of the scope of counterculture history implicated in sticker lore, volume 2 assembles over 3,000 pieces, organized by category, with chapters like Music, Skateboarding, Streetwear, Graffiti, Fine Art, and Political Activism, and also Surf and BMX culture. At the back, you’ll find 125 peel-out sheets with work by an eccentrically diverse group of street-art heroes and fine art stars alike. They include Jenny Holzer, Barry McGee, Invader, Marylin Minter, Erik Parker, Futura, Ron English, Ryan McGuinness, D*Face, Shepard Fairey, FAILE, Skullphone, Tara McPherson, and Swoon.
Stickers 2: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art (A.K.A More Stuck-Up Crap) by DB Burkeman, Rizzoli New York, 2019.