Melbourne has always had a healthy and organic sticker culture, whether it be writers with their slap tags, or the little street art characters and slogans adorning the backs of street signs, rubbish bins; actually anything with a surface that takes to a sticker.
I think stickers are an awesome and important element of graffiti and street art, giving artists a way to quickly and less incriminating way of sharing their work. Stickers, slaps, slap tags – whatever you call them are a worldwide culture, pretty much every city in the world I’ve been to – there are stickers everywhere (I’m currently writing this article while in Tokyo – which has been well and truly slapped, so to speak).
I’ve enjoyed watching new stickers appear over the years as existing artists evolve and new ones appear. Although, I can’t recall anyone that’s caught my eye as much Goon Hugs. Goon’s stickers are not only unique, they’re also prolific and often cover entire shopfronts, abandoned spaces and objects, even a drunk person passed out in a shopfront in one instance haha. This guy is out of control. His stickers are mesmerising and somehow beautiful.
I also love tags and mad hand styles. As I always tell the non beleivers (generally the “I love that street art, but i hate those tags” type people, tags are beautiful. They represent some major dedication to an art form, they are an individual’s own font, typeface, style. I’d much prefer to see a full window of tags rather than a dull, drab abandoned and unused space, or horrible generic advertising.
Not only is Goon Hugs a sticker machine, he also has a massive interest in all things stickers, tags and throwies, which he continues to document in his zine “Goon Pizza”.
Check out some photos of his work below and also make sure you follow him on Instagram to keep up with his latest escapades.
I caught up and had a good chat with the Goon himself, and this is what we talked about.
LM: Generic question, I know, but what does your name mean? It fascinates me, considering goon is one of my most used words haha.
GH: I got my name from when I used to drink goon and do bongs as a filthy teenager and when ya mix that with emotions you just wanna hug everyone. Simple as that. It’s a fun name with good and bad references that people can relate to.
Note from Luke – Goon is an Aussie colloquialism for cheap wine.
LM: How did you get into what you do?
GH: I first got attracted to stickers back in 2007 when I did graphic arts in the city everyday. I was turned on by seeing tags & little characters on stickers on signs in alleyways, that I lost my shit. I just wanted to be part of this very underrated scene. Took me a while though to become as consistent as I am now.
LM: Your tag looks (to some) like an alien text. Where does it come from? I love it!
GH: I’ve always been into tags that have a really clean, fast flow. So I tried for years to perfect this. I got inspiration from the Thai language as they have a lot of loops in their letters. I don’t think there’s ever a time when your tag stops evolving. Mine is always evolving as the flow gets faster and I start to add organic lines and curves to create the ‘interest factor’. Which I think is something you gotta have in a tag. Some line to make it go POW!
LM: You clearly are one of the most prolific slap taggers in Melbourne I’ve seen for a long time. How many slaps do you reckon you’ve put up?
GH: Wouldn’t know to be honest. I’m a gentleman. It would be arrogant of me if I knew though. But every now and then I see an old sticker and I have no recollection of when I put that there. To be honest, I feel like I haven’t done enough.
LM: Are all your slaps hand done, or do you photocopy some of them? Doing so many tags looks therapeutic, is it like that for you?
GH: When I bomb windows, I usually print them off ‘cus its fast ,easy & for me free and then I use wheat paste to put ‘em up. But for general get-up most are hand done stickers/duck tape. I can tag stickers at my desk all day long, listening to mad beats with no breaks, so it definitely is therapeutic. You could call it my day job. Unfortunately it doesn’t pay too well.
LM: You don’t just put your slaps up, you completely take over spaces, which I love. Is this just a sign of your prolificness/obsession or do you do this for another reason?
GH: When I first started I just thought why stick one behind a sign or on a poll when you can stick a few hundred in one spot and get full impact from the pedestrian traffic. I don’t ever think for spots where the sticker will last. To me it’s about getting ‘ridiculous’. Literally a sticker bomb. Using up all my supplies so I go home empty handed and enjoy a nice goon sac or two. Someone’s gonna notice something that’s over saturated no matter what. Most of my true fans are Real-estate agents and the Yarra & Darebin councils.
LM: How do you feel about advertising? I’m guessing you’re not a big fan?
GH: To me everything is advertising and we’re all advertising ourselves to an extent. But for some who got the big dollars they can put their shit on anything for as long as they want. Sometimes I paste on advertising spots like bus/tram shelters. To take the focus away from the one light box ad they have, I paste my fluoro tags over all the glass panels. I’ve had hundreds of stickers on a ‘for lease’ shop front window for over a year. I mean that’s basically the same as a billboard except it’s free. The average Joe won’t have a clue as to what it means, but the name ‘Goonhugs’ already has quite a cult following.
LM: What’s with the Japanese references in many of your slaps? I can read it funnily enough, and it always gives me a good laugh.
GH: I just like how Japanese typography looks. Sometimes I camouflage my tag onto flyers in Japanese to paste on polls/walls. Also the translation doesn’t always work and it gets random and funny.
LM: AS.250? Is this your crew name? Are there any other members, or just the Goon?
GH: AS.250 stands for ‘Adhesive supasta’ and 250 is the bus route outta the ghetto. Not part of any clan, just me the wondering goonsman, although if I did have a wing person shit would be a lot easier to do and Melbourne would have one of its biggest litterers on a rampage.
LM: When do you do your work?
GH: Depends on certain spots I got planned out. Sometimes in peak hour traffic, sometimes from 3am to 8am. I sometimes only bomb shop fronts during peak hour as people just wanna get the fuck home and have their dinner so not many people will hastle me plus there is not many cops on patrol. Also, Rainey evenings are a good easy cover. Summer is the worst. People will not go home.
LM: How do you procure your materials?
GH: If I told you my main source I’d be out of the job. But usually, most shops that sell adhesive products will let you take a free sample guaranteed, as long as the product can fit down your pants or in a green bag.
LM: Have you done any collabs?
GH: I’ve done some off the mill quick collabs with a few mates but nothing really spesh.
LM: Tell us about your Zines. How many have you done what are they all about?
GH: My zines(GoonPizza) are up to its 5th issue. They’re just a quick documentation of graffiti bombing around the northern areas of Melbourne. I find there’s a lot of stuff on instagram but eventually it all gets lost and forgotten. But having a homemade publication that you can produce and distribute online and through mates is a good way of preserving that time when that person got up or remember when this crew was fuckin shit up. My most popular zine was a super thick sticker zine of stickers all over Melbourne that got sold very well and had to make a second edition.
LM: You’re clearly a massive fan of slaps, tags and throwies; so who inspires you and why?
GH: The crazy Japanese bombing scene, it is off its rocket. Absolutely nuts! The Melbourne locals getting around and getting up hard inspire me too. Can’t go wrong with BTM, AC, PAA, TGF, ID, CI, CME, RPG crews. The list goes on I love ‘em all really. Also, a little cute shout out to Mio and FELON!
LM: I’ve been loving your little dioramas you’ve been doing of mini shop fronts etc, how do you make these?
GH: I just make these out of foam and cardboard just as an off the clock thing to do. Trying to capture local buildings but in a grimy, abandoned, graffiti bombed kind of way.
LM: What else do you have planned for 2015 and into the future?
GH: I’m not into talking myself up, but I hope to be the longest serving sticker bomber in the universe. Definitely gotta put the CBD on goonhugs lockdown at some point. The streets are too clean. Otherwise, keep doing what I do best. It makes me happy and I’ve met a lot of fans when I am out and about which totally bamboozles me as for me it’s just simply putting up a piece of paper. How can people like this? Shits real cray!
Check out more of Goon Hugs’ photos on his Instagram page here.
All photos and videos courtesy of Goon Hugs.