I fully admit that today's post is a bit of an unintentional coincidence but an important thing to share with the happenings of the last couple of weeks. I really was just looking to share a neighborhood that I haven't used in a while, with this find from the Strip District fitting the bill. I've had it in the queue for a while now actually, but I always felt there was another sticker that was a better fit for that week. There's also the fact that while this phrase is highly relevant in the current political and cultural atmosphere, I actually found it back in 2015. Obviously there is never a time where you should let your dignity ever take the back seat as it is a defining characteristic for everyone but dignity has certainly made a bit of a resurgence in the public eye lately. So I guess in the end there really wasn't any other choice for today's share.
Since the word plays such an important role not only in today's sticker but also in the current media, I thought it would be worth giving a definition. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, dignity is the quality or state of being worthy, honored, or esteemed. It also applies to having a serious or formal demeanor. Although looking down the page, the simpler definition is that it's the quality of being worthy of honor and respect. And I think that's the essential bit to this idea, that you have to present yourself and your ideals in a way that gives others the ability to respect you. That everyone is afforded the basic ideal of dignity and respect but you determine whether or not you're worthy of it. Which unfortunately seems to be in short supply these last couple of weeks. With the Presidential tweets, a blatant distortion of facts to defend what feels like unthinkable positions, and so many other things quite honestly I'm constantly finding myself at a loss for words.
I couldn't find who was behind this sticker but I can't see a better time for this phrase. We have reached that point where we need to start the fight to defend not only our dignity but also our county's. With the Woman's March a couple of weeks ago and the many protests that have happened since, it is encouraging to see the public outcry against the many slights that are occurring to our society. And like I said earlier, people are using the idea of dignity in a big way to support this outcry. Obey the giant, the man behind the Obama Hope sticker that I featured earlier, decided to use his well known style to speak out in a series at the beginning of the year. Among his many signs showing woman of different ethnicities there is one of a woman who is of Latin American descent. Underneath her powerful image is the very simple phrase "Defend Dignity".
It's a very simple idea but one that's going to take a lot of hard work and dedication not only by those who are being directly affected. We will have to band together and show that we believe that we are worth the world's respect. That we are better than the worst of our ideals, giving hope to an greater sense of world dignity than we've seen in a while. Sorry I'm generally not one for political discussion, so I'm sure this isn't terribly insightful or moving. But I do see the need for more voices in this coming year. So I hope that my little contribution to a discussion of dignity is a good step in the right direction. I have every intention of showing my support to the many causes under fire, I just don't think they'll be appearing here very often.
Technology is and always has been a driving force for our society. From the invention of the wheel to the Industrial Revolution, we use technological advances to move forward and shape our world. The technological advances within our lifetime can be staggering when you think about it. We are more connected around the world than we ever have been. You can find out what's happening in any city, any country, at any time you want just by typing a phrase in a search engine. We carry a tiny computer, record player, movie screen, and so many other devices in one item in our pockets at all times. The ability to travel and see our world can be done in mere hours compared to the weeks and even months that it took a century ago. And while you are miles away, your loved ones and friends can keep in touch with just a couple of buttons.
But with any advances there this always a backlash. Despite this idea of connection there is also a sense of isolation. While as a society we have always searched out like minded individuals to associate with, the divides in our ideals tend to seem more extreme in their presentations. And the refusal to see the opposing side's argument is often a willful ignorance with the amount of information available at our fingertips. Social media has become such a prevalent force in people's lives that there seems to be a constant need for approval and to show proof that their lives are happy or interesting. The ever increasing presence of social media and technology in our lives also means a greater acceptance of the loss of privacy. And with any technological advance there are always those crying for a simpler time, like in one of my favorite movies Midnight in Paris. However unlike the movie which wants to go back to the Roaring Twenties for it's creativity and sense of discovery, today's stickers are looking for a simpler time out of a disgust for the culture they see.
While there are a lot of stickers in this photograph, the two I'm really focusing in on are "Facebook is boring" and "Industry is a death culture" by IRL. I've seen these two all over the city and have always been intrigued by their messages. I am by no means anti-social media, I do believe it can serve an important purpose and probably spend far too much time on it myself. But I do generally feel a bit of a disconnect from it all. And clearly the person who created these stickers believes our society needs to take a step away from our screens. I did manage to find an interview with IRL where they explain their reasoning behind the many pieces of graffiti they spread. I could try to relate his/her thoughts here but I think it would be far better to read it for yourself. I'm a little disappointed I can't tell where the individual is originally from, but even if they aren't local their graffiti is rather prevalent around the area. And no matter where you stand on the issue of social media or technology in our culture, these stickers are great thought provoking pieces.
I fully admit that I have never really been on top of trends, memes, or anything that's ever gone viral. Most likely not the best thing to admit as a blogger in today's society, but I like to think that it just makes me old-school. Part of it is the simple fact that I've never really been an internet browser. I have a couple of sites I visit on a regular basis but I generally don't go searching for new things. And the sites I do visit aren't ones that keep up with what the next viral sensation is. So when something does come across my radar, typically through Facebook, they usually fall into two categories. Either it's something I find funny/cute and deem worthy to share, only to be informed that everyone has already seen it months ago or I don't get it and I can only think "this is a thing". Today's sticker falls very solidly into the latter category.
I was walking to my bus stop after work when I happened to look up and see this sticker. I thought it was kind of funny so I made sure to capture it. I figured it would just be a small sticker, one that I wouldn't be able to pull up on the internet and I'd just present my thoughts on it. So I'm sure you can imagine my mild shock that I not only found things online about it but it's apparently a thing. You can buy this image as a car decal on Ebay as well as many other car focused sites. The image appears on a multitude of items actually and even looks to be the album cover for a band. There's even a hashtag on twitter and instagram for this phrase as well. Supposedly farfrompüken is a play on the 90's Volkswagen tagline Fahrvergnügen or at least that's what this forum says. It's definitely not something I doubt to be true, I just find it odd that's it's been picked up recently or has managed to last this long. I honestly can't think of that many things from the 90's that has made a successful resurgence or remained a piece of society's culture for this long. It's not really shocking that this out there, I'm originally from middle of nowhere PA and could totally see this decal on things, just really wasn't expecting it. But I guess it just goes to show why one should never make assumptions.
Tonight is a bit of a throw away. A) I'm pretty drained from this week and have a rather full weekend to figure out. Not that I'm complaining about what's coming up, I'm really looking forward to it in fact. I just don't have the mental capacity at the moment to really look into these. B) What little research I did do, didn't turn up much. Not that I was really expecting it to, the first sticker is super vague and I know exactly what the second one is. But while this post isn't going to be a great read I think the photo stands up pretty well by itself. I enjoy how simple it is, the stickers as a nice focus in the center of the image with the empty lot out of focus in the back. While empty lots aren't an uncommon sight around the city, this does feel a little out of place for the area. Then again, I always feel like the corner of Penn and Negley has a different feeling compared to the rest of the street. I can't describe what exactly it is about this corner that makes me feel this way, just always seems out of place to me.
The Daily Bread sticker is actually one of the logos for a local clothing store which is located a couple of blocks from where I found this placement. I've briefly featured this sticker before but honestly decided to just list the website for the store in favor of focusing on the image in general. I also won't be going too deeply into this again tonight. Since it's a local store I really want to get in contact with them, give the store owners a chance to share their story. They have a different design though that is far more interesting and I'm certain has a far more compelling reasoning behind it. So I'm holding off on a big post on them till I feature that other photo. Yes, a bit of a cop out on my part but I think it'll be worth the wait.
The Fake Veg sticker, or least that's what I'm assuming it says, doesn't come up when you search. You do though get quite a few websites that sell fake vegetables and food, obviously. It was kind of creepy how realistic the products were though. I get that a good portion of the customers are buying them as props for advertisements or plays but I generally don't see the appeal outside of that. Not that my apartment is best decorated thing out there, just a generalized collection of the junk I've gathered over the years, but what is the appeal of having a bowl full of things you can't eat. You also get listings of the best vegetarian/vegan options here in the city. Again I get that this is a vital thing for people that care about what they put in their body, just not my cup of tea. In that same vein of reasoning, I could see this sticker being a statement against the food industry or GMOs but I've got nothing to back that up. This is also an area I can't say I've ever really kept up with, as long as it's edible I don't look too closely at it. I'm a big believer of beggars can't be choosers, so I am not the ideal individual to be sharing this sticker on the web but c'est la vie.
You've got to love how often the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" continues to turn out to be true. Granted I often fall victim to picking a book, movie, and many other products by how it's presented, but in many ways that just makes the diamonds in the rough even better. I find that the less I know about something, the more pleasantly surprising and enjoyable the story tends to be. I also find that this is often equally true with the recommendations my friends will share with me. Since many of us have similar tastes it isn't hard to share finds that we know others will enjoy but it can be difficult to do so without ruining it. It's important to not only share the story with each other but that experience of discovery as well. Believe me, banishment is an acceptable form of punishment for spoilers in my group ;).
So what does that preamble have to do with today's sticker, you may be wondering. Well I actually didn't find this particular sticker, my friend Laura did. As I've mentioned before I have been collecting photographs of these stickers for a couple of years now, which I would then often share with my friends. Not that is an unusual thing for amateur photographers to do but it's not something I typically expect a reaction from. One evening Laura texted me a photo saying she found a great sticker near her place. I was a little surprised by the share but fairly excited that she thought of me. Now obviously she didn't do any research into the sticker, since that was something I started doing recently, but the fact that she shared the find is a big element I hope to incorporate into this blog.
It took me a while to get around to finding it myself but when I did I was pleasantly surprised/ a little concerned. I'm always a fan of a good grim reaper, it's the inner goth in me, and this one is a fun one especially with the blood dripping off the scythe. Definitely gives off that biker, Sons of Anarchy vibe without being too ridiculous. What gave me pause initially was the phrase "hang your local rapist." Now I don't know anyone who is actually supportive of rape but I am wary of anyone who feels like they have to go to extremes to solve the problem. So I was a little worried that wherever the website at the bottom of the sticker would take me was going to be an uncomfortable find. Luckily the person behind this is not what I was expecting.
The website btnpthny.com belongs to The Beaten Path Distribution, a small time clothing site and blog for a couple over in NY. The blog is an interesting combination of things; a personal photo blog of the couple's adventures around the country, interviews with coffee roasters, top tens of music and the festivals they attend, and product releases. This is clearly a side project for the man behind it but something he really enjoys sharing with people. Looking through the older posts, I found the reasoning behind this image. The artist apparently created a collection of anti-rape posters for a class and linked up with RAINN to support the fight against sexual assault. He continues to support the organization with the sale of shirts with this image and sending out stickers like this with their other products. The fact that he uses this side project to support the causes he cares about is rather impressive and makes this one of my more interesting finds so far.
I fully admit that I have kind of painted myself into a corner with today's sticker. I picked this photo because I've been doing my best to try and rotate the neighborhoods I post on here. It's been a while since I did an Oakland sticker so I figured this was a fun entry. A big problem with my attempt to keep the neighborhoods on rotation is that when I started taking these photos a couple of years ago, I really hadn't been planning on blogging them. So a good portion of my early photos are from Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, Shadyside, and Oakland since those were the areas I had the greatest tendency to frequent. I have obviously started to explore other neighborhoods, but the method I'm currently using to carry my finished products around is still very full of these early photos. Not that it's a big issue and I do have some wiggle room, there is just a small goal to try to get these older ones out of the list.
The other sort of issue that I'm looking at, at the moment, is the simple fact that it's rather difficult trying to come up with things to say about these disintegrating stickers. I love them and feel like they are an important bit in this project, but honestly how many times can I say that. Sure the first one I focused on worked out and others I've really only mentioned in passing, it's just a question of where can I take these that's interesting. After doing my political sticker experiment, I had thought about doing another month experiment using these kind of stickers. I know I have plenty of these fading stickers in the collection to make it a month, or if I don't they're a lot easier to find, I'm just in that writing conundrum. I can still attempt to research the remnants of the sticker, trying to deduce what it was originally, but there's only so far you can really go when you can't see much. It's still an option floating about in the ether, just needs some flushing out before I decide to attempt it.
I know what you're thinking, if you have other options from Oakland and you're not even sure what you want to say about the photo why choose it. Well part of it is again trying to relieve my collection of some it's older images. Another is that I really do enjoy this photo. I like how the sticker is folding back on itself, giving you just a glimpse of the picture. The odd drawing of an older face, the half circle that he looks to be crawling up, the use of a postal label, and it's positioning on the pole all work well to attract your eye. I also really enjoy the blues throughout and how the lines from the trees and the pole play together. Even if I don't have the words to really captivate you, the photo is an interesting combination of elements. All in all I like how I managed to get everything to generally work together to hold your interest for a little bit.
Sorry, I had every intention of starting this when I got home but ended up getting distracted. Originally I wanted to finish the chapter I started on the bus ride home, then I started reading the next, and then I unintentionally skimmed through the rest of book. This nasty habit started when I was first learning how to read. I would get a little bored, and probably a tad frustrated, with what I was currently reading and start to skim ahead to see what was going to happen next. Sure it ruins twists a bit but I intrigue myself enough that I need to go back and see what that journey is. I think that's part of why I enjoy playing around with this blog, I want to try and find that journey behind the sticker. How it made it's way to that particular sign, what the possible reasoning behind it could be, how the sticker plays with it's environment and your expectations. Each sticker is the final chapter and now I'm going back to figure out how I got there.
I know I've mentioned before how I love finding stickers that play off their surroundings, ones that really utilize the space. I think the best ones are the ones that are kind of cheesy word plays. Stop signs that ask you to stop in the name of love or to end some political movement. Trash cans that promote throwing away more than just litter. When I found this sign over in Bloomfield, I couldn't help but chuckle. Obviously the sign is meant to deter drivers from being a nuisance. This part of the neighborhood is pretty compact, so any frustrated driver honking their horn is going to be heard by everyone. But while the sign is going for an official, lofty sound, the sticker just boils it down to it's simplest form. An idea that pretty much everyone can relate to. It's not every day you see "Don't be a Dick" on a sign and even fewer times where it works so well. I can't say I've seen this sticker elsewhere, so it doesn't immediately seem to be an artist's or activist's statement, just someone trying to reinforce common courtesy.
I don't really have much to say about the second sticker on the sign. The shrink of the rails doesn't seem to be anything immediately recognizable, at least I didn't pull anything up in google. If I had to guess I'd say it's a statement about the decline of the railroad industry, I know kind of obvious. It's that use of the childhood train that intrigues me though. Even though trains aren't as heavily used today in public transportation, the train is still a classic element of growing up. I know my siblings and I had a couple of sets and my cousins who are over 10 years younger than I am also had some that they played with. Despite the fact many of us have rarely ridden on a train, or really even see that many anymore, the train remains an essential part of our society and how we connect with it.
An element of photography that I've always loved is the fact that even though a photograph captures the world as it is, no two images are ever really the same. Two people can take a photograph of the same thing and can tell entirely different stories. Just by moving a couple of feet or kneeling for a lower vantage, I can drastically change the feeling of a photograph. That ability to tell so many different stories, with subtle changes in the medium is something I am constantly fascinated by. It's not a hobby you really need a ton of education to take decent pictures, just a decent eye and patience.
This fun find in the Southside is another band's sticker actually. The Dangits are originally from Forth Worth, Texas and two of it's founders did various stints with bands during the 90s. You can definitely hear that experience in their sound. From my collected music experience, their album on Facebook gives me that punk impression along the lines of Alien Ant Farm. A very heavy guitar and bass sound that's a little angry but no where near the extent some bands take anymore. Their page is an interesting collection of bizarre photos and throwbacks to different iconic images from multiple decades. This sticker actually served as their cover photo for a bit and I think it is a fairly accurate representation of who they are.
When I first saw the sticker, I was immediately struck by the fun of Mr. T punching up at it's viewer. Mr. T was one of those iconic elements of the 80's that you can't help but love, well at least I can't. He really was what I recall the most from the A-Team reruns I caught growing up. My first attempt at the photo was straight on, with both fists coming at you like it's presented on Dangits' Facebook page. While I liked it, it seemed flat and rather bland. But I thought about it, took a step to the right, and changed the dynamic. Now it felt like a more realistic punch, with the other fist poised for a second hit. The curve of the kiosk and the light reflections really just help round out the image. Sorry this got a little, sigh, not preachy but maybe a tad over the top with a discussion of my process. But sometimes I think it's fun to show a little behind my curtain as well the things I find.
Today's post is going to be a bit different from what I have been putting up on here. I figured since it's the start of a new year and somehow I managed to end last month with a total of 30 posts, it was the perfect time to try out a new experiment. A couple of years ago a friend of mine turned me onto a site called Society 6, a place where she had ordered most of her prints that decorated her apartment. For those who haven't heard of it, which I've come to realize is most people, it's a more art focused Etsy. Artists submit their work to the site, decide what products they want their images printed on to, set the prices for certain items, and reap the royalties when people order things. Like Etsy, users can follow the artists/ other users they love but they can also promote the pieces they enjoy so that others will see it. The images that can be found are an amazing mixture of ideas and styles. Some are artists interpretations of pop culture, which range from adoration to the rather bizarre, while others are more abstract and stylized ideas. But no matter what your preferred decorating style is, it's really easy to find something that strikes your fancy.
When I was in the process of starting the blog, my friend suggested creating a space on Society 6 so that people could buy my prints. While I rather doubt this is going to be a source of revenue for me, I thought it would be an interesting experiment. In the very least I figure it'll increase the traffic to my site a little bit. So to start my collection, I picked a third of the images that I've posted on here so far. I tried to pick things throughout the total, kind of sticking with my personal favorites. The thought process is that at the start of each month I'll add five more; so if you have a particular favorite you really want to get, leave a comment somewhere with it and I'll do my best to accommodate. I also thought I would keep it small to start, which is why the only products available are the different types of prints you can get. Again if you really want to have a coffee cup or a tote bag with one the photographs, let me know and I might add it on later. I've kept the titles of the images the title of the original post, in an attempt to make life a little easier. If you haven't guessed, the slideshow at the top is the first batch. Check it out, let me know what you think, and we shall see where this experiment goes.