I’m excited to see that London’s A.CE is having a solo show at Maxwell Colette in Chicago this month. A.CE has been putting up posters in London since before I began looking at street art, and I’ve always enjoyed his work. There’s no denying that there are some similarities to Bast, but I compare him to Bast rather any number of other artists along those lines in part because we all know Bast is talented and I think A.CE is too.
Planet of the A.CE opens March 16th and runs through April 20th.
It almost goes without saying that Martha Cooper has been one of the most important documentarians of graffiti culture for the last few decades. Her urban and hip hop culture photography is iconic. More recently, Martha Cooper has expanded her graffiti documentation to the photography and collection of stickers. Her two latest books, Going Postal and Name Tagging, spotlight sticker art made with postal labels and Hello My Name Is stickers.
I would gladly hop on the next plane and see this exhibit in person, but that was not an option so instead I asked Martha Cooper a few questions.
Caroline: In your book Name Tagging, you explain how you began appreciating stickers after you bought your first digital camera. What was it about the digital medium that initiated this interest in stickers?
Martha Cooper: Pre-digital, I rarely took my heavy, bulky Nikon out unless I was headed for something specific to shoot. It cost about 50 cents for film and processing every time I clicked the shutter. So although I had noticed stickers for years, I hadn’t looked at them closely and hadn’t bothered to shoot many.
My first digital camera was a little Olympus that I could easily carry around with me all the time. It had a very good close-up lens and performed well under low light. Once I had the camera, it didn’t cost any more to keep shooting so I was free to take as many photos as I wanted. Transitioning from analog to digital was a challenge. Shooting stickers was an unstressful way to practice new technology with interesting subject matter.
C: What led to you removing and collecting stickers off the street, rather than just photographing them?
MC: I’ve always been a collector. I like to look at different examples of things. At first after shooting a nice sticker, I printed it and saved it in an album. That began to feel unsatisfactory–I wanted the original. I only shoot and collect hand drawn stickers and this is pretty much the only form of graffiti and street art that can actually be removed from the street. Of course writers have criticized me for this and I know this is a dubious defense, but someday I hope to have a museum sticker exhibit.
In 2010, Rizzoli published the definitive book on stickers and sticker art. That book is Stickers: Stuck-Up Piece of Crap: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art by DB Burkeman and Monica LoCascio. DB seems to be the ultimate sticker fanatic, and his book tells the history of stickers in a way that only someone completely obsessed could possibly pull off. If you don’t know anything about stickers, you can skim through and get an introduction. If you’re already interested, Stuck-Up Piece of Crap gives a behind-the-scenes look at everything from early graffiti stickers to stickers in the music world to the homes and minds of sticker collectors. Of course, DB has quite a sticker collection himself. A small chunk of DB’s collection will be on display starting tomorrow at Maxwell Colette Gallery in Chicago, alongside a few other sticker-related events (and he and Martha Cooper will be signing books at the gallery on Saturday from 1-3pm). I spoke with DB last week…
RJ: Why do you think you are drawn to stickers?
DB Burkeman: It’s changed over the years for me, but now the simple answer is they are simply tiny portable works of art. That may have a different answer for each person.
RJ: In your collecting habits, do you differentiate between “art stickers” or “graffiti stickers” and stickers intended as advertisements?
DB: Never really thought about that, but I’m less drawn to stickers that are obviously advertisements. I’ve also become more picky since overdoing on the damn things : )
RJ: How many stickers do you have in your collection?
DB: Somewhere between 4000-6000 & growing, much to my family & friends annoyance. It can take a long time to get down the street with me, I keep stopping to check out lampposts etc. Continue reading “Interview with DB Burkeman”
Chicago’s Maxwell Colette Gallery is kicking off the new year with STUCK UP: A Selected History of Alternative & Pop Culture Told Through Stickers, January 20th from 6-10pm. The show is curated by DB Burkeman, author of the ultimate book on stickers, and is a chance to see some of the best stickers from DB’s collection, including stickers by Barry McGee, Jenny Holzer, Banksy and Kaws. On January 21st from 1-3pm, the gallery will host a book signing with DB and seminal graffiti photographer Martha Cooper, who has had two books of her photos of stickers published.
In addition to Stuck Up, there will be work at the gallery by Chris Mendoza and a version of the Slap Happy charity project that DB and Paul Weston curated for SCOPE Miami last year.
After a solid two weeks of getting up in Chicago, a slew of commissioned projects and a wonderful preview at Pawn Works gallery in Ukraine Village, Resplendent Semblance was finally concluded at Maxwell Colette to a tremendous turnout. Here are some pieces from the show and photos from opening night.