Chatting about Stickers with the Creators of the Sticker Movie Project

It’s quite a niche part of the art community, fitting into the street art side of the art world, but chances are you walk past examples of this art form every day… if you live in a town or city there’s a chance that you’re exposed to them several times a day, and you may not even always notice. I’m talking about stickers, which can vary from a humble thumbnail-sized printed or credit card-sized hand drawn tag through to huge poster-sized stickers or “combos” consisting of numerous stickers put together as a big collage.

It’s a community that is very welcoming and probably the most accessible of the street art practices but not much is known about how it works and who is involved, at least to people outside this community. There are a few artists such as Shepard Fairey (that “Obey” Andre the Giant guy) or “Sleep is Famous” who receive more mainstream success, but for most people it’s just about getting your stickers made, getting your message or idea out there and having fun.

In order to give everyone an insight into the world around this art form, some filmmakers have been recording a documentary exploring the art form as well as the people and community that surrounds them. To date the project has been funded entirely by the filmmakers which shows the level of passion they have for the community and the movie, but if you want to get involved too, in order to make this movie happen to the highest standard there is a donation option on their website.

So let’s meet these filmmakers.


NL – First of all, thank you very much for talking to me about this project.  I know that there are a few of you directly involved in the actual making of the movie, so could you please introduce yourselves.

SRS – My name is Sha-Risse Smith and I am a sticker addict. I love stickers a little too much.

CW – My sticker name is Chilly Willy, based on the cartoon character created by Paul Smith in 1953.  But non sticker heads call me Will.  I’ve been a documentary filmmaker since 2002 and made stickers for the first documentary I ever directed. 

NL – How did the idea behind a Sticker Movie come about?

CW – The idea for Sticker Movie came about when Sha-Risse and I traded stickers. 

SRS – I have always wanted to make a film about sticker art, but I knew how much work it would require. I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

CW – She was super cool and I learned she was a writer and worked on a feature film called Strive.  I was interested in doing a documentary about sticker culture but having a screenwriter like Sha-Risse that is active and knowledgeable in the community is the real reason this film is possible. 

SRS – So, when Will approached me about making a Sticker Movie together, I jumped at the opportunity.

NL – What’s the general format of the movie going to be? 

SRS – The film is a full-length feature film that explores all elements of the culture from an insider’s perspective. It was important that this story was told by the folks who make, trade, and slap stickers.

CW – The general format is a feature length documentary, but what makes our film unique is the approach.  Our aim from the beginning was to create a snapshot of the culture at this point in time and we knew that meant we would need significant involvement from the community.   So very much like the culture itself, this documentary will feel like a DIY punk rock street collage telling the story of stickers.

NL – One thing I really like from the trailer is the way you’re making people’s stickers talk.  I think it’s a great way to keep people anonymous while still having part of their work represent them in an active way.  Where did that idea come from? 

SRS – That was Will’s brilliant idea. One of the major challenges with this film was starting production during the pandemic. We could not shoot in person because of the quarantine. So, Will came up with the talking head solution for our interviews, and it works. Also, many of the artists prefer to remain anonymous.

CW – Recording mostly audio only interviews created the challenge of how we are going to let our audience know who is talking throughout the film.  We asked all of the artists to provide a sticker that we could use to represent them in the movie for this purpose.  The animated talking stickers will replace the talking heads that you would see in more traditional documentaries.  There are a few artists who prefered to record interviews on camera, so we do have a couple of live action talking heads too.

NL – On the website, you describe this movie as being for the sticker community by people in the sticker community, how involved in stickers are you all? 

SRS – As I said, I’m a sticker addict. A day does not go by where I am not either creating stickers, slapping stickers, cataloging stickers, mailing stickers, opening sticker packs, or photographing stickers. I am too involved.

CW – I spend A LOT of time with stickers.  My studio is a tornado of stickers at all times.  I like to photograph all of the stickers I get and then put them up in fun public places.  I trade actively so it definitely is a part of my day to day.  

NL – Of course, it’s not just you who are involved in the project from the sticker community, because you’ve been calling on artists, collectors and sticker heads, in general, to get involved, to truly make this a project for the community.  Is there still a way for people to continue to help provide content? 

SRS – Good question. We are on to the next phase of production. But if people would like to contribute, they should go to StickerMovie.com and send a message to the team. Folks can also contact us on Instagram @StickerMovie. We’ve branded this film very well, easy to remember.

CW – We could always use more high quality footage of stickers in the streets.  Especially footage where there are recognizable landmarks from different cities.  We currently have a few ideas cooking where we would like to collaborate with other filmmakers in the community.   If you are a filmmaking sticker head, hit us up.

NL – Speaking of getting the community involved, and I know that often street artists like to remain anonymous, do you know how many artists have so far got involved and how diverse they are geographically?  One of the nice things about social media nowadays is that people can share their art from all over the globe, I guess you’ve probably seen this reflected in the community involvement right? 

CW – So many brilliant artists from all over the world.  “Exchanging stickers with other artists is the basis of worldwide street art.” – Stelle Confuse

SRS – We are proud to say that we have interviewed 70 artists in over 20 countries. The number of artists who have their work shown in this film is countless. One XZ combo alone could have 100 artists. Shout out to XZ One. Yes, this film is a sticker feast. We wanted to show the diversity of our culture and how we have created this colorful, vibrant, slightly odd, but wonderful community worldwide.

NL – Without going too much into things that are already no doubt going to be included in the movie anyway, what is it about stickers, in your opinion that has enabled this community to come about.  It is (in general) a very accommodating and inclusive movement.  What is it about these tiny scraps of paper and vinyl that facilitate this? 

SRS – That is the central question of our film. But, I will say that stickers are probably the most inclusive and collaborative art form. Stickers are connectors by design. They are interactive, made to peel and stick to a surface. They are portable. They are affordable and often free. Anyone of any age or skill level can participate. And, I will stop there. These are shallow answers. Though all of this is true, there’s so much more beneath the surface. There’s so much more to our community. What fuels us? What binds us together? Why are stickers so powerful? Why is art so powerful? If you want to know, watch Sticker Movie. These are questions we aim to answer.

CW – Yeah, what Sha-Risse said.

NL – Do you know yet when and where this is going to get a release?  How are we all going to be able to enjoy it? 

SRS – Summer 2022. And details will come once we cross the finish line. We still have a lot of work to do! 

CW – Stay tuned!  

So what are you waiting for, go check out the website and social media pages for the project below and make sure that you’re in the loop when this thing airs! I for one can’t wait and have been excited since I first heard about it as I’m a big sticker head myself!

Official Website

Direct link to the donation page on the website

Instagram

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