Forget about the predictable and tedious advertising posters at bus shelters and on billboards. Instead, scan less prominent places in public space and notice that it is there that much more beautiful, exciting and important things are advertised. Artists, illustrators, photographers, musicians, bloggers, activists, small clothing lines and others promote themselves through sticker art – the most common form of street art.
Certainly not always, but often enough it proves worthwhile to look up on the internet the maker(s) of an eye-catching sticker. Doing so, you may find yourself pleasantly surprised by the phothography, music, art or recommended books and documentaries that you encounter and would otherwise never have learnt about.
Some may argue that advertising (for something other than the street artists themselves) can never classify as street art, but that I think is too firm a point of view (just leaving aside the overall commercialisation of the movement, manifested most clearly by murals commissioned by big consumer brands). As to what does or doesn’t classify as such, there’s no strict dividing line, but by no means all (advertising) stickers do. For them to be considered street art, to my mind, they should promote things that are underground or not widely known rather than mainstream, their designs should have a certain aesthetic quality or wittiness and in case that is lacking, content-wise they should be directly related to the street art scene. Below are examples of stickers (and a few stray paste ups) that have aroused my curiosity because I find them funny, pretty or intriguing. One is more street art than the other, to the extent it really matters anyway. Come to think of it, this photo essay is one big ad for a whole range of other ads, but at the end of the day it’s quite simply also an overview of small-scale artistic expressions found in basically every city.