Sunday, February 5, 2012

My sketchbook sticker collection

(And ideas for starting your own!)

In a previous blog post, I mentioned that all of my sketchbooks include an insane mass of stickers in the backs and fronts of the books. I have literally horded hundreds of stickers over the years. It all started out of necessity and answered an age old question: Where the heck do you put cool stickers and other stuff you find in a place where you might actually look at it or appreciate it? 

This has always annoyed me. I'd run across cool stuff here and there, get gifts from my friends, find pictures in magazines. But I never had any place for all these things. They'd get stuck on folders or put into a box and generally disappear. Wasted. Then, I got the seemingly obvious idea of putting them in one of my sketchbooks. After that, the obsession grew.

As I started collecting more, it really became a "bonding experience" for me and my earlier sketchbooks. Decorating with stickers and various things kept me interested in my sketchbook, which got me into a habit of using it.

For beginners just starting out on a sketchbook of your own, this is a good "ice breaking" way to start making it more personalized and exciting.  It also serves for great raw inspiration- you can get tons of ideas from looking at all the little stickers and cut outs while working in your book.

As for the thrill of collecting...I have to note that some of these things weren't easy to obtain. I had to reach up on high street signs,  peel them off of walls and even order them online. Each sticker has an interesting story behind it, I never just go out and buy a sheet of average stickers! They look better when you have to earn them, of course.

 The first sticker I ever collected, appropriately located in my first sketchbook.
It's a single Fat Boy Slim sticker (featuring Christopher Walken!) located in the very back.

Early stickers from my second sketchbook including a defunct radio station, beanie babies, and a Spongebob I got from the dentist.
Aww, remember when 300 was popular?
French fries.. get it?
I spied this picture in an old English text book and couldn't bear to think of not seeing it again... the rest is history.
A student teacher gave this to me, said it was her
favorite poem and that she found it hilarious.
I don't get it.. but I still love random contributions!

An ancient Budweiser sticker I found in my parents attic.  It's huge- it takes up the entire page by itself.
This is a tiny cut out from a random art magazine.
Once again, I found it so striking that
I had to keep it for myself.

Another hilariously defunct sticker:
Hillary for president!
I ordered this one special off the internet.
(Free of course)
Yeah, there are still high schools out there
with "Trojans" as their mascots.

This is my page dedicated to war, pizza and Tourette's Guy quotes. I also started a "mini collection" of those stickers that come on computers. I carried the collection over to my next sketchbook.....
... and I ended up collecting over 40 individual computer stickers.
None of the computers at my high school have their stickers anymore LOL.
These two big stickers were pretty fresh and I found them within the same area and time frame. 
Someone really hates Dick Cheney.
By the way, one of those is an official Shepard Fairey!

Yes Taco Bell flavor packet, I will marry you.

So many things wrong with this page of stickers... I got the zombie one from Charleston Zombie Walk!
This poor child... I found him in an Oriental Trading magazine advertising what looks like some sort of slime. If I were him, I'd fire his agent.
In this particular sketchbook I had a few fancy black pages in the front and back.. I really like how the stickers look on these ones. Oh, and I taped some mistletoe in there too for good measure.
Sometimes my brain organizes stuff in weird ways... It looks like the Gunslinger is shooting the crap out of  the conductor of Los Impoliticos. Totally unintentional!
This is from my current sketchbook. As you can see, I've started incorporating a lot more things other than stickers.

Here's another fun idea for keeping things in your sketchbook.. make some pockets!

  They're perfect for keeping stuff you don't want to glue down, and for utilizing the space taken up by large cut outs. All you need to do is get a nice "pocket size" image, and tape up all the sides except one for the opening....

This page has three separate pockets, the "Art" one I taped up myself. It holds quite a lot of items, including a box of matches, photographs, post cards, and my old name tag from Spanish class. The pockets at the bottom are keeping my wicked Itchy and Scratchy cards safe!
This pocket is keeping things like other photographs,
some old notes and a giant "Joker" playing card.
It's a magazine clipping with some black electrical tape to seal it up.

A pocket holding quite a few bookmarks.

Also, you can probably tell that I liked collecting quotes as well. Many inspirational song lyrics, poems, and sayings found their way into my sketchbooks. Sometimes words can be just as valuable as pictures. I only used other people's quotes, but you could easily add your own poetry or thoughts. A sketchbook doesn't necessarily have to be strictly for drawings.

So then, how do you start your own "sticker collection?"

Firstly, I use the term stickers lightly. My collection is a collage of many things, almost like a personal scrapbook incorporated into a sketchbook. The possibilities for how you personally approach it, however, are endless. It all depends on what speaks to you as an artist.

Start by looking around at your surroundings. Stickers are everywhere. The coolest ones you can find in public, stuck on just about anything. Seriously, keep your eyes peeled at all times. I've found them on walls, trash cans, telephone boxes, stair cases, chairs, and especially street signs. All for free- and you're doing your neighborhood a service by "cleaning up all those pesky stickers" for them. (They seriously pay people to come around and scrape stickers off of things...What a shame!) 

Collecting them can get really fun too. It becomes like a game- how many stickers can you find hidden in your every day life? Sometimes there are gems sitting right under our noses.

Tell your friends you collect stickers. I am always getting great "donations" from friends and family. They get really into collecting them too- I have countless cool stickers that someone randomly saw somewhere and "thought of me."

Take advantage of freebies. This one's a biggie. You don't have to pay a dime to gather any of this stuff. Brand new stickers are given out all the time for free. If  you're attending, school sponsored activities always provide an abundance of shiny new stickers. Also...

There are tons of businesses online that will send you stickers for free if you simply order them. Here's a few good places to start you off. As a warning, you may get some junk mail if you start giving out your address, but I've had a generally positive experience the following sites (and got my stickers in a timely manner!)
We Kids
National Community Service (This site ROCKS, I got my stickers within the week)
Hisdale College
Reddit Freebies

Check out magazines and books, too. Don't forget about things besides just stickers! This stuff can easily be glue-sticked in to your book, and sometimes is cooler than any old sticker you find. Check through an old stack of magazines- something may catch your eye that you hadn't noticed before.

As a wrap up, I always encourage readers to share with me their own projects. Do you collect something inspiring? How do you decorate and personalize your sketchbook? Do you have any sticker gathering tips? I love to hear how other people approach using their sketchbooks and how they do art in general. And I really consider this a kind of art form. What do you think?


Anonymous said...

id be pretty pissed if i spied you ripping my stickers off walls, but if i realised it was because you wanted it for your collection id be like oh you have some fresh ones, very nice collection

trina lyn said...

thanks for understanding, anonymous. i just cant help myself! :P

Jeremy Pearse said...

Love your sketchbooks (and Journals) - they have kept me amused for some time as I find new delights on each page! Great ideas - my sketchbooks just have sketches in them. Now I have a completely new direction to take my work (and clean up all those 'found' items lying around the studio) - thanks!

trina lyn said...

aww jeremy you rule, thank you for the nice comment! :) I am very pleased to hear I've inspired you. It really means a lot to me to know that there are people out there that like my blog! Good luck with your new sketchbook adventures.. I'd love to see some pics of the finished results.

Tina Strassburg said...

I've been collecting stickers for about 35 years. I haven't been able to bring myself to use that. I have them in a photo album. I have made a few into book marks, which I also collect.