I have a bit of an obsession with the reinterpretation of ideas. Cover songs, the re-imaginings of classic stories in any facet of the entertainment industry, modern takes on famous pieces of art; you name any way you can adapt something and I've probably got a favorite in that medium. It's a love that started at an early age, probably the result of a terrible combination of Disney, Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes, and classic fairy tales. For me there's always something fascinating about seeing not only what pieces of the original make it into the new retelling but how it changes your way of looking at the classic. I know that these types of things can be rather controversial to people, fans or followers that are so attached to the original that any change is viewed as an abomination. Which in many ways I get but by the same token I can't say I've ever really come across a re-interpretation that wasn't done out of respect. An element of the original song or story that stuck with the new artist so much that they felt the need to share their spin and love of it with the world.
The Yoga Hive is one of the few businesses that I've seen advertised in stickers that I actually knew exactly where it was. While I never got the chance to participate in one of their classes I used to live a few blocks away from the studio in Garfield, well this was a couple of apartments ago but I was still familiar with this locale. There are certainly a number of yoga studios around the city and yet this one always kind of stuck out to me. I think a large part of it is the name, with its emphasis on the idea of a hive or community. They always seemed to be a chill location, so I figured it was worth taking the chance to reach out to the studio and find out how they came about with Namaste Yinz. Kimberly, the owner and a teacher at the studio, did end up getting back to me and gave a fairly interesting response about the hashtag featured above.
"We are at #yogahivepgh #namasteyinz. I created both of those seven years ago before we opened the studio. It was also a play on a shirt that I had previously seen "namaste, ya'll" It's meant to be fun and playful. And also welcoming to all "yinzers." The hive was created to be a studio for everyone - where everyone and anyone could feel comfortable - whether they were in a t-shirt and shorts or fancy yoga clothes. While yinz has turned into a catch all, kitschy phrase, it's also one that I heard growing up in Pittsburgh. And has become synonymous with being a Pittsburgher. We are a diverse community of teachers and students and we welcome everyone."
I know that in many ways, well probably most ways, appropriation would be the better term for this but at the same time I don’t get that sense of blind repurposing from it. Yes any version of Western Yoga is a form of cultural appropriation and the phrase clearly is derived from another but there is that sense of reverence to the originals. Namaste is a respectful Hindu greeting and often used to welcome guests and strangers. So in combination with the yinz, the phrase opens the studio up to the larger local community much like ya’ll does for the Southern end of the country. You can see how they are looking to create a re-interpretation of the larger idea that fits the region. How this emphasis of creating a welcoming community plays into the ability to find acceptance and inner resolve. Clearly all of the teachers of the hive are influenced by the traditions of Yoga but you can see how each one looks to welcome others into the practice with their unique spin.
Something that's always intrigued me is the origination of phrases and their ability to catch on. Some of the more well known ones are obviously quotes that have caught society's attention and have stuck with people over time. Phrases like "a method to my madness" or "busy as a bee" can trace their origins to classic pieces of literature, although most of the people who use them aren't aware of this. Others are ideas that are so relatable and prevalent in society that it's hard not to have them catch on. The resurgence of "keep calm and ..." or the dreaded "yolo" didn't really need a big push to reach the public eye as the ideas they represent have been around for a long time. But some, while interesting, are slightly more difficult to deduce the reasoning behind.
There was no way that today's sticker wasn't going to catch my eye. The gleeful devil and that phrase "Satan is happy with your progress" are too perfect of a combination not to capture. Immediately after seeing this I was curious about the reasoning behind the phrase. Admittedly it's not a hard concept; your actions are rarely as selfless or as helpful as you think they are adding another tick in the damnation column. But it's also not a phrase you really expect to find on the street. So Googling it I found one of the bigger results to be from an artist named George Horner. He looks to be a Brooklyn artist who not only does pieces for shows but enjoys rotating a collection of unique signs in a window on the street. He has a poster and a neon sign version of the phrase which are impressive. However in my short amount of research I don't really see his explanation behind it, but while disappointing doesn't detract from it's fun.
This sticker though has no direct ties to Horner. I very luckily happened to come across the image of it in my search and realized that it was actually the creation of a local business. The clothing store Blasfome over in Mount Washington is behind this particular version. I would link to their site but my anti-virus is claiming that it could be harmful to my computer and since I have enough computer issues I would rather not risk it. I did come across a product page for Blasfome as well as their Facebook page which definitely shows that this sticker fits right in with their usual repertoire. Since their Facebook page actually seemed to be active, unlike many of my recent finds, I decided to take a chance and see why they advertise with stickers as well as the reasoning behind this phrase. Dave Bartek was kind enough to respond and here is what he had to say.
"I wanted the phrase on the sticker to remind people that there are two sides to life and that while people may think what they do is inherently good, they do a whole lot of evil shit while thinking that they are making the world a better place. The idea that some one is keeping track of their individual progression of evil and is also pleased makes me laugh. I'm not in any way religious or anything like that, so I am also really intrigued by the concept of people that are scared simply at the mention of Satan. I chose stickers as a form of advertising because they are cheap, readily available, and easy to give out to a bunch of people. And regardless of who sticks the sticker up they generally end up in places where my audience is."
This sentiment is an interesting one and one that I can generally get behind. In a world that is so quick to divide things into right/wrong or black/white, it tends to be too easy to forget that things are rarely ever so simple. Certainly there are things that are clearly destructive to society but rushing to put yourself above it does nothing to help the situation. Plenty of terrible things have been done in the past and are still being done today in the name of bettering the world. So having eye-catching reminders like this around, things that make us reevaluate the positions we hold in life, are definitely important. Obviously they don't need to be terribly deep or serious, having that element of fun is often necessary to make the general message more palatable to the viewer. But no matter where you stand along the line, I hope you can agree that Blasfome has certainly created an interesting conversation.
Hey there sticker fans, so it's another sticker without anything really to research. Although that is kind of intentional today. I've spent a good portion of the weekend attempting to get a project done for a friend, with a variety of missed shows and a suggested anime on in the background. So I'm taking a short break to make sure that I get today's post up, even though it would probably be better for my eyes if I wasn't staring at another screen. Since I've put this off till the last minute, as usual, and know that I don't really have the time to properly research something I figured it was just wiser to put an interesting image up. It's nothing fancy, just the lines of the pipes drawing your eye up to the sticker slowing disintegrating above. I've always been a big fan of using lines of different objects in my photos to add a level of intrigue to things. Can't say it's always successful but I like to think it at least gives me a little bit of a signature to my photos.
I feel kind of bad about my posts lately. I rather doubt anyone feels terribly jilted or feels a sense of lacking with the posts I put on here, I seem to have a fairly consistent following after all. I just feel like something is a bit stagnant, quite possibly it's just my life in general though. Can't say I'm making a promise that things on here are going to change, at least not majorly or quickly. The general idea remains the same, just need to make more of an effort to get things rolling on each post before the day it's due to be put up. Anyhue, that's it for tonight since I really need to get back to tonight's other project. See you all Thursday.
One thing that I've found to be rather surprising over these last couple of months is how many of my finds serve as a memory of things. Little reminders of past events and old campaign ideals that are hidden along the streets. Advertisements for bands and companies that didn't manage to make it. By my count I've managed to put at least eight stickers on here that are part of a defunct element of some kind. Granted a portion of that are the old political stickers posted during my experiment back in November but still an impressive number out of the 44 posts I've put up so far. Although today's find is one of the few where I am truly certain the idea behind the sticker no longer exists.
I was wandering around Oakland after a doctor's appointment when the lines of the loading bay caught my eye. I wasn't paying that close of attention to the name on the logo, assuming it was just club insignia or something along those lines. When I was correcting the image I realized that the name of it was Dienasty, so clearly not going to be your typical find. The first site I found for Dienasty Select was an about page that seemed to be a piece of a larger company. Dienasty Select was a clothing brand in California whose goal was to get picked up by local stores and be sold online. Something that seems to be a fairly reasonable goal in today's market. They apparently partnered up with Movetic, a group that looks to help promote and foster smaller online brands like this one. I thought that this was an interesting part of the find, that this was something like an internet support group. My internship in college actually took place near a group that did a similar thing, getting smaller startups and companies together in one place to give them the best chance to move forward. Although it doesn't look like Movetic is terribly active either.
Continuing on in the research process I came upon their Facebook page. Looking at their page I started to wonder if this company was still active. Like some of the other stickers I posted, I noticed that their page hadn't had any recent posts. The last couple of things that were on there were from 2013, which has served as my general sign that my sticker find is defunct but has never really been definitive. However with this find I can guarantee that this group is no longer active. The link on the Movetic and Facebook page for Dienasty Select's own website kept taking to a page entirely in Japanese. I thought it was weird that this was the site for this company. I mean why would a company based in California looking to make a name for itself choose to be in Japanese. Not that I'm saying it couldn't be but I would think that if you were looking to reach a local audience English would be the logical choice. There was also the fact that it didn't fit the typical store format. So I decided to go through Google to be able to get a translation of the page. Turns out that this domain was turned into a personal blog documenting an individual's current attempt at dieting. I can honestly say that I wasn't expecting that one. I guess it just goes to show that like the stickers on the street you can never really be sure what you're going to find or truly remove all the remnants of an idea.
I know that I just did a Shadyside sticker, but this is one of my favorite finds and I'm running a little low on photos that are ready to go. So rather than attempt to keep the rotation of neighborhoods limping along, I thought I would just share an enjoyable find. I also kind of find it funny that this is really only the second trash can that I've shared. Obviously signs and posts are frequently used to place stickers on, but the trash can is my usual sticker hub. I often find them to be the hardest object to isolate individual stickers, since there is so much space to be used. A large part of graffiti, as I've mentioned before, is the way it interacts with it's surroundings and how it imparts it's message. But when I can give a sticker that ability to be the sole focus of the image, I really do my best to capture it.
Part of why I like this photo is the angle. I managed to get down low enough that I could capture the shadow from the rim above on the sticker. While it isn't a drastic change, I do think it adds a bit more to the image. Not only are you looking at a cactus, an object that is often avoided and associated with pain, but there is the added impression of bars. That not only is the sticker looking to keep you away literally with the phrase and figuratively with the cactus, there is a sense of protection around it as well. I know this is a little ridiculous since it really is just a photo that I took but that idea of warding others off is something I often am drawn to. I admit that on top of generally being an awkward and introverted individual, I do tend to be a bit guarded when you first meet me. Terribly open and honest about things when asked, yet it does take some time to get past the first couple of layers of self-protection I've put up. Not sure I would consider myself to be a cactus though, always kind of preferred the rose analogy. Nevertheless, I definitely appreciate and can understand the feeling behind it.
Looking into the sticker, it seems like this is something the creator greatly understands as well. In tiny print under the cactus there is the word Trobees (took quite a few magnifications to make it out). When I looked it up it turned out to be the artist's last name. Sarah Trobee is a graphic designer/ illustrator from Chicago and is very keen on making her voice heard. She has a fairly large Instagram account but I did manage to find this image amongst the collection so I do know it's hers. She even has a Society6 page. I strongly urge you to check out both. She has a truly unique style and is very in tune with her positions in the world. She currently has a pussy collection in response to our current president and his stances on women. She also has another sticker that has made it's way to Pittsburgh, which I also enjoy. I hope to get in contact with her before I post this other sticker though, I think she's a voice that is worth trying to get a hold of.
Tonight's going to be short and sweet. My parents are in town for a conference, so I've spent most of my time hanging out with them. But as always I want to keep my current momentum and at least get something up. So today's find isn't something I found much on but has been catching my eye for a couple of years.
When you zoom in on the bottom of the sticker you can make out the site menacethreads.com. The page you end up on has an image of a man wearing a shirt with the site's logo and the option to buy it for ten bucks. Heading over to their facebook page, there are a few posts from when the page was created in 2012 but nothing recent. If I had to guess I would say the site hasn't been active for a couple of years. Now that isn't to say the creators aren't still active in the sticker graffiti world. According to their page bio, the duo behind the sticker have been around doing graffiti since 2005 and felt that they were at a good place to take a next step. So the business may be inactive but I'm sure the people behind it aren't.
What I like about this sticker is it's simplistic and kind of pop arty. Not quite Warhol but definitely along that line of realistic and cartoony. Just a closeup of a shocked girl's face. An image that easily grabs your attention yet requires you to really get up and investigate what it's truly about. I think what also draws me in is that it seems to exude an eerie vibe. I could easily see this as a horror movie poster or as a product in Hot Topic. Then again with a name like Menace Threads this isn't that hard of a stretch. Also you know me, I'm into anything kind of dark that allows me to express my inner goth.
I've come to realize the longer I do this blog that while I definitely see the stickers on the streets, I haven't noticed as much as I thought I did. Part of it is just the fact that I'm looking to collect as many as possible, knowing that it's unlikely that I'll even capture a third of the stickers that are out there. So I'm scanning all of the usual spots to find these stickers without truly comprehending what I'm capturing. Sure there are some stickers that I recognize just from the fact that I see them so often, but I can’t say that I really know what I’m taking a photo of at the time. Obviously nothing wrong with that since it gives me something to present with the blog but I do feel like I'm missing out on quite a few connections. Elements of these stickers which if I knew about them before could make the actual physical search a little more interesting, possibly giving me a different angle for my photos as well. But this should change the more posts I do.
I originally saw this sticker at a bus stop on Liberty and thought it was tremendously fun. It was one of those things where I thought it was a legit service announcement while I was far away from it but realized that it was a statement instead. Unfortunately those first exposures didn't turn out as well as I would have liked, so I was glad when I found it again in Bloomfield. I liked how I could frame the sticker with the electric meters and keep it as the only piece of graffiti in the image. Like the service announcement I thought it was originally, it makes a statement about graffiti's place in the world so I wanted to give it the gravitas it deserved. Since graffiti is such a fluid art form, constantly changing with street and the people who pass by them, I thought making this the focus was important.
While I definitely noticed this sticker for a while, I can't say I made a connection with the artist's tag. I really didn't see that IRL also was behind this find until I started researching it this weekend. Although I will admit that I'm not entirely sure IRL is the original artist behind it. When I was looking it up, I found that a metal version of this image was created by the artist Dissizit. While I wasn’t able to find the image on his website, his tag can be clearly made out at the bottom of the sign. There are a couple of subtle differences between the two versions but the message is the same. Whether it was started by IRL or by Dissizit, this image is definitely out to make the audience take notice. For both of these artists, graffiti is an important medium to share their opinions. Maintaining that ability to give sentiments a voice is essential for graffiti artists, so cheeky reminders like this is a great way to continue the conversation and poke a little fun at those who can’t appreciate a little public defacement.
There are two rather different directions that I can take today's post. I could take it rather seriously and look at a deeper meaning for this sticker. With the spiky turtle, his hiding inside the shell, and the phrase "don't look at me" it can easily be seen as a representation of mental health or depression. It's an easy association and something I can really look into despite my inability to find the creator for it. It's a subject that most of us can relate to in some way, whether or not you've ever received help. Our need to protect ourselves is always important discussion to have, which this sticker is endeavoring to do. Or... I can be a little silly with it.
Here and now I want to make a confession, something my friends have known about me for a while but for those who don't I think this will explain a fair amount about me. I don't get video games. Any of it, on any level, I just don't understand them. I never got into the Gameboy as a kid, epically failed at the PlayStation games my brother owned, and could never get pass easy on Guitar Hero in college. My friends and family will convince me to play games with them just so they can laugh at how bad I am. Trust me, it's quite something to be taunted by a three year old because he demolished his eighteen year old cousin at a racing game. I have very little hand eye coordination and my reaction time is pretty non-existent, which generally doesn't help with this particular activity. I honestly don't have anything against video games, I just suck at them and choose to limit my humiliation.
When I saw this sticker walking home on Penn one night, I thought it was kind of funny. It's not every day you see a Bowser like turtle on the street. Yes I do know who Bowser is; I have a rather odd relationship with Mario. I'm not bad at Mario Party actually, since that relies more on random luck than skill, but I die so fast in the regular game that the other players generally stop resurrecting me after the fifth fall. So I was a little surprised to see during my attempts to research that there is in fact a different spiky turtle that this sticker is using from the game. This particular sticker is apparently the spiny turtle, the one you can't jump on and need to utilize other turtles to get rid of (or at least so I've been told). Obviously it still works as an idea but I think it's a little less epic.
Hopefully you enjoy the sticker and had a little fun with the post. I know things have been a bit serious the last couple of posts, so I felt I needed a chuckle even if it’s at myself. In other news I have uploaded a couple more photos to the Society 6 page since it’s the start of a new month. Check it out and again let me know if there’s anything you really want to see on there.