Art History Hits The Streets

[UPDATE: Pre-order your book here.]

Whether you’re a punk, a skater, a graffiti artist, a musician, clothing brand, political activist, fine artist, or avid band fan, stickers have always been the perfect way to express yourself. Starting in 1966 with Andy Warhol’s Banana sticker for the cover of The Velvet Underground’s debut album, sticker art has undergone a renaissance.

In their new book, “STICKERS, from Punk Rock to Contemporary Art,” published by Rizzoli for release later this month, authors DB Burkeman and Monico LoCascio chronicle the development of the art form of stickering, from its nascence to the present day, and how it has spanned the pop-cultural and artistic genres of the last half-century.

Brooklyner (a Dumbo resident) and English ex-pat DB Burkeman, who made a name for himself DJing clubs and parties in London and New York as DJ DB, has been fascinated by stickers and street art from an early age. Recently we received an advance copy of the book, and had an opportunity to speak with him about stickering’s past and present.

First of all, amazing work. The book is beautiful and impressive, highly-detailed, richly-colorful, a truly encyclopedic compendium. How many contributors are in the book?

Thanks so much for your kind words. We have over 1300 names in the credits, but I’m discovering fast, that number will increase for future runs of the book because I keep showing the book to people & they go “oh, that’s so & so, you didn’t know that?” So the hundreds of anonymous stickers that appear now will get credited hopefully.

How long did it take to compile all the stickers?

It will be 3 full years from when I conceived the idea to its release. I’ve always loved stickers & have kind of on-&-off collected them since I was a teenager.

Once I started working on the project, I talked to my friend ex-pro skater Andy Kessler about the idea, he offered to put me in touch with some of the old skool guys that had inspired me back in the day; also gave me his crazy collection of stickers that I think he’d inherited from some junky. Sadly, Andy died from an allergic reaction to a hornet sting last summer. It was Andy’s involvement that gave me the confidence to really go for it with the project.

How do you feel that today’s stickers have evolved from the punk rock era from the 70s and 80s?

The kids who were making stickers during the punk days had no computers, no home printers & professionally printed stickers were much more costly.

So they had to be resourceful & use parents’ office supplies, etc. There are some great stories in the book from people like Moby & Reverend Hank, who was a roadie for many of the straight edge bands back then.

Dumbo has seen its fair share of street art (Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Swoon, C.Finley). Being a Dumbo resident, how much of the stickers were seen or are from Dumbo?

Dumbo has become a bit of a hot spot for artists because its a little off the beaten track, so the art lasts longer on poles, doors, and walls. I get stopped when I’m up lamp posts trying to peel stickers off for the book & upcoming gallery shows. I now tell them I’m helping to clean up NYC.

I love Stikman’s quote: “seen by many but interesting to only a few, they create a network of shared ideas that drives me to respond in kind with ideas and images of my own.” How do you interpret this for the casual observers interested in sticker art?

The original title for the book was “Stuck-Up Piece Of Crap,” and it was meant to be sort of ironic, in the way that most people think of stickers on the street. Our publisher convinced my partner Monica LoCascio and I that if we really wanted it to been seen as an academic reference book and get it into colleges and museums, it probably wasn’t the best title.

Right now we’re working on producing a massive museum-quality exhibition of the book.

“STICKERS, from Punk Rock to Contemporary Art” is available from Jan Larsen Art (63 Pearl St, Brooklyn, NY) in paperback and a deluxe, limited edition with die-cut, signed stickers by a dozen of the artists. Both are offered at 20% below retail price for our readers. Click here (email link) for more information or to reserve a copy.

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