Hey there Sticker fans I have tremendous news!! If you don't follow the blog on Facebook you may not have heard yet but I have managed to make it onto the City Paper's list of nominations for the best local blogger here in Pittsburgh! Each year the Pittsburgh City Paper does a reader poll to pick the best things from a variety of areas here in the city. From the more typical questions like what's the best bar or place to see a movie to the best place to hide in a zombie apocalypse and which Pittsburgher should replace Donald Trump, this poll has got all of it's bases covered. They had a couple of weeks where you could nominate places and people for the various categories and I managed to get a couple of people to put me up for "Best Blogger" against 10 other local blogs. I am still terribly excited by the fact that I managed to get on the list. Now it's time to vote for your favorites. The poll is going to be open until August 18th and the results will be announced in October. So if you want to give me a little support you can vote for me at https://www.pghcitypaper.com/pittsburgh/Best-Of-Pittsburgh-2017-Voting/Page by going to the People/Places category and voting under the "Best Local Blogger." Otherwise I highly recommend heading to the site and voting for your favorites in the other categories. I know a couple of places I've featured on here have made it to the various lists, as well as a few groups I really respect, so I will definitely be casting my vote for a couple of them.
When I was deciding what I was going to post tonight, I knew I didn't really want to put a sticker up that I would end up detracting much needed attention from. My excitement over the nomination and a call to get people to vote in the poll was far too much to really give a sticker justice. So scrolling through my current collection I found this wonderful splattered gem, something very reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting or maybe just the remnants of graffiti on a wall. Although these kind things also kind of remind me of pointillism, even though an image isn't actually made by the splots. It wasn't until I was doing a bit of research to see if by some off chance I could come up with an artist behind it, that I realized in many ways this was the perfect sticker for the night. Obviously I've always seen the "help" on the sticker, it's not like something that disappears easily into the background, but for some reason it didn't really click while I was choosing it. Some days it just takes the hamster a little longer to get those wheels turning up there. What I really like about the help on the sticker is that you really can't tell if it's always been a part of it or if someone came by one day and added it. Either way it's a call for help that certainly gets noticed.
Over the years I have developed a very mixed opinion on deer. Growing up in the middle of nowhere, deer were a fairly common sight. My grandparents had a fair amount of land that was frequently surrounded by fields of corn and my parent's acre of land was mainly woods, so having deer wander onto either property was a frequent enough occurrence for me. Whoever happened to find the deer first would always call for everyone else to come join them at the widow to see it. But no matter how times you happened to see them, it is always a fairly majestic sight. Especially during the winter and spring when you would often see a doe and her fawns wander by. Even today, living here in Pittsburgh, I am often mesmerized when I happen across a deer. Once I was walking to work at 5 o'clock in the morning, when I came across a doe in the middle of Shadyside. I just happened to look down a street along my walk and saw it in the middle of the morning mist. I stopped in my tracks and stared at this rather bizarre morning occurrence for quite a while before I finally got back on my way. There was also the time I spent probably a good hour just stalking the deer that live in the Allegheny Cemetery over in Lawrenceville. I had no particular reason for it, I just happened to be wandering the city with my camera that day and it seemed like the logical thing to do. It certainly gave me a nice collection of photos in the end.
On the other hand, deer do legitimately freak me out. Like I said I grew up in a small area and deer were a fairly common sight. Unfortunately about half of the deer I've seen in my lifetime have been the tropies of the successful kills that decorate a good portion of people's homes. Hunting is a pretty big right of passage for most people in my hometown, so much so in fact that we always got the first day of deer season off from school. (It does fall on the Monday after Thanksgiving, so not that odd of a time frame but if half the school is going to skip anyway why bother with class.) Granted this is something you generally get used to seeing, but it always remained a fairly unsettling sight for me. The worse ones were always the stags that had the tendency be hung near the top of the staircase. Not only were you greeted by the dead marble eyes of the poor creature staring down at you, there was also that minor concern that you would somehow get hit by the impressive antlers on his head.
Along with the multitudes of heads I've seen, there is also the amount of near car accidents I've been in because of the animal. I personally only came close to hitting a deer once. I was driving to pick my little sister up from swim practice on one of the few visits I made home, when all of a sudden there was clearly a deer mid-jump in my headlights. I didn't see the bugger at all until he or she was just magically there in the light. Luckily for me I wasn't driving that fast and was able to slam on the brakes in time to miss it. I was also very lucky that no one happened to be behind me on one of our busier roads in Milan. Otherwise I can only think of two hits that I was involved in, although those times were perpetrated by my dad. We don't know what it is about my dad's driving but he somehow he just draws the bastards out. I've lost count on the amount of deer my dad has managed to hit over the years with a variety of cars. I'm fairly certain though that it rivals at least one uncle's best hunting record. Obviously when a deer decides that it's time to jump out of the woods and onto the road, there really isn't much you can do about it but I'm always scared that one will commit his kamikaze attack on my turn at the wheel.
During college I had a good friend who was absolutely enthralled with deer. Unlike me, she was originally from Philadelphia and didn't have that lifelong exposure to the animal. On an early visit to the Pittsburgh Zoo, we naturally walked through the Kid's Kingdom and their exhibit on Pennsylvania wildlife. I'm sure this is still a thing, but you were allowed to pet a variety of animals in that area with the white tail deer being one of them. I don't think I've ever seen anyone get so excited by this prospect. And while she walked up to the deer to pet them, my jaded self walked past. I had no real desire to go near it, they could remain majestic at a distance in my book. While I doubt this visit was the moment that spurred her creativity, I do recall seeing more and more deer start appearing in her artwork. Unlike tonight's very animated sticker, she would do a more lifelike representation. Her prints were absolutely gorgeous though, often juxtaposing animals against heavy machinery like helicopters. I don't know if she still does any work involving deer but it certainly made an impression on me during college, further complicating my opinion on the creature.
It doesn't happen often but every once in a while the obvious solution/answer is not exactly a helpful thing. Sometimes it's because the site that was behind the sticker is now defunct and doesn't work anymore. Other times the element I think would be a unique thing to research turns out not to be an easy result on the almighty Google. Tonight's sticker is a little closer to the first issue I usually run into. The site www.baseck.net does exist out there and something does come up when you go to it. However I have no clue what this site is. It's tied to something called justhost.com, which I would guess is a web hosting kind of thing like Weebly is. The options that Baseck gives you are weird though. Bases, wood plaques, architectural products, crystal vases, and family fun games are a couple of the options and I honestly don't see how any of it is tied together, let alone to the sticker I found. Even though I went to the site, I wouldn't suggest exploring it for yourself. I tried a couple of the links to see what things were and my anti-virus freaked out saying that what I was trying to access was a bad idea. I know there's a way to override it so that I could keep going, but I have enough computer issues in my life so why invite more. I may be a curious creature and generally feel the need to find out why things are the way they are, this however doesn't seem worth the possible lost of one of my remaining lives.
Despite the fact that I've run into a dead end, this sticker is certainly an interesting collection of ideas. A big reason it caught my attention when I was walking towards Squirrel Hill is the Gameboy base. I'm sure this was the case for most of the people I know but the original Gameboy was definitely my family's intro into the gaming community. My mom had one and we would all make our attempts at playing Mario, Frogger, and of course Tetris. I remember when the Gameboy color came out though, which this sticker is clearly referencing, and getting the bright green one. While it was intended as a device to be shared by all, it definitely became the brothers' belonging. But that neon green Gameboy certainly reminds a fixed image in my memory, causing this sticker to jump out at me. Along with the late 90's reference, this sticker also has a record player where the screen should be and the record is a buzz saw blade. I'm sure could attempt to draw some conclusion as to what the artist was trying to say with the design, but these are too varied of references to really come up with something concrete. All are pretty big moments in technological advances but seem weird to place together. It could be some reference to a game, I mean I'm sure buzzsaws are a common element in video games and while record players may not be a common sight music certainly is. In the end trying to tie a meaning of some kind to this image is probably better left up to someone who actually does video games and not me.
I probably shouldn't be using tonight's photo, if I'm being honest. Not because of anything truly terrible, I'm just fairly certain that the focus is a little off. It's not that noticeable at this size, since you can clearly make out Glassburgh on the sticker, but once you start zooming in things start to become a little... fuzzy. I noticed this when I was correcting the image but ended up deciding to keep going with it. Despite the fact that I've been shooting using a manual focus for many years, I still haven't quite mastered that ability to judge when things are truly in focus. Part of the problem here was the fact that I was clearly taking this on a winter evening and the sun had started to set. Low light photography is always rough when you don't have a tripod to stabilize things and my night photography skills are more than a little rusty at this point. I ended up deciding to roll with it though because I enjoy the lines throughout the picture and the sights in the background. I also thought that with the recent heat people would enjoy the reminder of cooler times. Oh and the sticker is also pretty interesting.
This sticker is another great example of local business advertising. Glassburgh is a vape and glass shop over in the Southside, clearly taking advantage of the recent influx of interest in vaping. According to Yelp there are 89 results when you search for "vape shops" in the area, although who know how close to Pittsburgh all of these results really are. Like many of the shops on this list, Glassburgh emphasizes its local roots. Their logo has the recognizable cityscape in the background and uses our spelling of 'burgh in the name. While there are clearly a large number of vape shops out here, Glassburgh does at least appear to be a unique one. Granted I have no real experience with vaping, so have no idea what is typically sold in these shops, but they seem to specialize in glass pipes and other glass paraphernalia. I'm sure this is a common sight in these types of places but if their Instagram is anything to judge by, it looks like they tend to make their own products. There's a couple of shots of people glass blowing in their feed, which is always fascinating to see. The variety of pipes and designs is also rather impressive and fairly artistic to my untrained eye. Again this may be typical for vape shops, I just have to give credit where I think it's due.
Tonight has provided me with an interesting conundrum. I didn't look into the pizza sticker at all, not because it doesn't deserve some attention, I just really didn't see how I would find this particular image. Also I kind of doubt I have that much to say about pizza. So I focused all of my attention on the City Slicker Press sticker. I don't quite remember the first time I found this sticker but this is probably my favorite shot of it. I love the fact that the river is in the background and you can just make out PNC Park on the North Shore. While this doesn't really deviate from my usual style, I think it's one of the few I've presented so far that gives you a decent reference point to find the sticker yourself. Takes some of the fun out of it but then again does prove that these finds are actually here in the city.
Obviously I want to find the story behind every sticker I photograph, but there are definitely some that intrigue me more than others. Actually tonight's sticker is one that has intrigued friends of mine as well as me. He ending up finding the sticker on his way to dinner in the Shadyside/East Liberty area and sent me a pic of it. It doesn't happen often but since I've managed to get my friends hooked on stickers as well, they will occasionally take photos of the stickers they've found themselves. Granted a couple of people feel like they can't share their finds with me since they assume I've seen everything and will just offhandedly mention that they're seeing more stickers now. So when someone I know shares a sticker with me, even if I've seen it before, I get rather excited. Partially because there's no way I've seen everything that's out here and a head's up about one that's interesting is always appreciated. It's also a great indicator that I might be on to something if someone else is just as interested as I am about a particular sticker.
Now that I've rambled for a bit, I guess I should get around to what my conundrum is. It actually didn't take too much research to find tonight's sticker. The City Slicker Press is a local group of artists who publish illustrations, comics, magazines, photography collections, and a much more on their site. While I couldn't find this particular image on their actual site, I did find it on their Instagram. In fact I really didn't find out much about the group on their site. The fact that they're a collection of artists that work together to publish a variety of work came from a short blurb about them on the PIX: Pittsburgh Indy Comix Expo site from this past April. Their site ultimately is just their products that they have for sale. I have to give them credit though on this apparent lack of online presence. Clearly they are quite the local staple and put a lot of effort into the work that they are putting out there. The lack of info online is just mildly frustrating since it does mean I don't get to find out why they chose to use A Clockwork Orange for a reference. While they could be referring to the novel, the image is a direct reference to the Stanley Kubrick film's poster. I am really curious why they chose to go with a violent dystopian future, where attempting to correct the issues of the youth by removing their disturbing urges backfires. Are they saying that they're the disillusioned youth out to disrupt society with their creations? Or are they looking to warn the public of the dangers of the society they see around them? I mean it's one of the Kubrick films I really enjoy, so I can appreciate it as a choice, I just wonder what they are trying to say with it. In the end, even though I did manage to successfully find the group behind tonight's sticker I don't feel like I've managed to figure out much about it.
I'm a little stuck tonight trying to come up with something to say about this sticker. Which is sad because this sticker has intrigued me since the first time I stumbled across it. I fully admit that it does creep me out a bit every time I see it. With the angry eyes, the pointy teeth and the jagged/ incomplete style, this sticker is out to be a little unsettling. I mean the block of white at the top of the sticker makes me think that the monkey's skull is exposed. But for all that it creeps me out, it certainly makes for a memorable image and one that I find fairly frequently. While I can't say for certain that I've found this one in every neighborhood I've explored so far, I know I've got many exposures from Shadyside, Oakland, Bloomfield, and East Liberty. It's just such an arresting image that I end up stopping to photograph it every time I see it. So I'm sure it will pop up on here again, hopefully with a far more in depth look at it.
I think what's holding me up tonight is the simple fact that I have way too many possible references I can make with this sticker. Searching for an angry monkey or ape head on Google brings up way too many possibilities and gets me no where, it is quite the popular design for stickers out there. And the angry monkey is fairly common motif in movies and tv these days. I mean it was genetically modified angry monkeys that caused the speedy zombie apocalypse in 28 Days Later. 12 Monkeys pretty much revolves around finding out what the monkeys have to do with the apocalyptic future they are trying to prevent. Admittedly the Syfy show has a far angrier monkey logo than the original Bruce Willis movie did. Or if you're more a classic sci-fi movie fan there is the entire Planet of the Apes franchise to choose from. I can even hearken back to the flying monkeys in The Wizard of Oz if I wanted to. Although the recent remakes of Tin Man with its weird bat-like magic monkey tattoos or Emerald City and its clockwork monkeys probably fit the bill for scary monkeys more than the originals did. There is also the fact that any time someone goes into a lab where "crazy" experiments were taking place or if they're exploring a jungle, an obligatory crazy monkey jump scare will happen at some point. Despite having all of these possible references to go with, I still feel like there is an image or idea that I've got on the tip of my tongue for this. That there is something in some corner of my mind that this sticker reminds me of and I can't quite figure it out. It's mildly infuriating.
Not that I want to detract from tonight's post, but I do have a couple of quick things to share. After not getting around to it for years, I have finally created an Instagram for myself. And since I was at it, I made one for the blog as well. So if you want to follow along you can find it on Instagram @pittstickerproject. I'll be posting there about 3 times a week, jumping around in the collection so far and posting some of the ones I find riding the bus. Also make sure you check out what's currently available on Society 6. Now on to far more interesting subjects.
Tonight's sticker completely captured my attention when I found it. I was doing one of my many sticker hunts around the Southside and this beauty stuck out amongst a collection I found on a mailbox. That sense of macabre power, taking advantage of the weaknesses of others, honestly caused me to do a double take. The blood in the background, the old school iron nails, and the phrase I knew were too good, or in the very least too me, for it to just be one in the middle of a group. I ended up taking a couple of shots of it, trying to make sure I found the best way to get it to be the main focus. Once I got the best I thought I could, I continued on my way looking for more interesting finds. Happily while I was making my way along the opposite side of Carson, I stumbled across the sticker again on a painted brick wall which clearly made for the better photo.
While I am most certainly a nerd, I do have my limits. So I'm sure that while I was struck by a grim fascination with the phrase "Feast on the Fallen," many of you are shaking your heads wondering why I haven't mentioned the clear tie to Magic: The Gathering. I will admit that I was a little surprised that the first result I got as I started my research for tonight's post was for a card. I've never really been that into those types of games, the ones where you end up spending hundreds of dollars attempting to build the perfect deck, so this would never be on my radar. Although clearly this particular image using the phrase isn't actually tied to the game, well at least not directly. This version is actually the name and logo for a local metal band. Since the band would clearly have more to say about themselves than I could deduce from their sites, I decided to reach out. Luckily for me Feast on the Fallen was kind enough to reply to my message. Here's what they have to say about themselves.
"Feast on the Fallen is a metal band based around the Pittsburgh area. Our name, other than something that sounds really cool to us, serves as a few different meanings. The actual name comes from a card from the trading card game, Magic: The Gathering, a game we all have interest in. Not only this, but also based on the fact that the card is a zombie themed card. Zombies and horror movies are also things we share interest in. On the other side of things, the name Feast on the Fallen serves as an outlining title to the theme of our band. Our lyrics lay heavily on the concepts of apocalypse, destruction, political corruption, decay and torment so Feast on the Fallen basically means people in high places abusing their power to make things worse for the common man, slaving them to death for self-fulfillment.
The idea of our sticker and logo came about based on our theme as well, blood to represent true horror of the real world and fantasy, the nails to represent the hardened/aggressive nature we portray as well as our effort to hold together a voice of reason and resistance. That is Feast on the Fallen."
I have to appreciate the subtle play with their love of zombies that comes to fruition within their work. Listening to their latest album, "Hatemonger," you can definitely hear how the idea of zombies and being stifled by the powerful has definitely influenced them. Their album cover is also a bloody bat which I would assume is a slight homage to The Walking Dead. And since Pittsburgh is one of the more famous locations for a zombie flick to be set, it's not hard to see why it's such a prevalence here. There is a thriving beat of rebellion throughout the album though and certainly something that gets under your skin as you listen. While they clearly share their appreciation for zombies within the music, a deeper meaning can certainly be found within and definitely deserves the attention they've managed to grab with their sticker.
I know I've mentioned on here before that I am not a video game person. The combination of a relatively slow reaction time, lack of hand eye coordination, and a general lack of understanding of video game mechanics make for a relatively terrible time. Well it's generally considered funny for my friends and family to watch me fail, until they realize they need to pull my weight in the game if they have any hopes of succeeding. Luckily this inability of mine isn't usually a huge hindrance, especially since a majority of my group of friends are bigger board game fans than they are video game fans. Or at least they will typically go for the physical game when a group is involved before trying to find something electronic to play. The only time my inability proved to be rather problematic for me was during college.
A good portion of my freshman year was spent hanging out in people's rooms, like everyone's is I'm sure. We would watch movies, TV, play card games, hang out talking, and occasionally actually study. But one of the biggest things we did was to hang out in my friend Mat's room since he had a playstation. I don't remember what games he had at the time but the main thing we played was Guitar Hero. I think a big reason for this was the fact that it was still fairly new, since it was released at the end of 2005 and I started college in 2006. It was also an easy game to get a group of people to participate in. Even if you weren't playing you could still sit around and listen to the music at least. After a while I did end up getting a bit of a handle on how to play the game, eventually mildly mastering the easy level. Unfortunately this wasn't quite enough for the group and got teased into attempting to play the game on medium. I have no idea what it was about adding the pinky into the game play, but I could not for the life of me figure out how to pull it off. In the end I generally sat around and played audience to my group of friends, which I was generally cool with.
A couple of years later, the group's obsession with Guitar Hero was replaced by Rock Band. Again I think it was heavily influenced by the fact that it was a relatively new product and there was a new element to the game. While Guitar Hero focused on the bass and guitar sections of the music, Rock Band brought in the drums and vocals of a song. So you could get a larger group to play the game and you had a couple of different elements to try to master. It also seemed to have a wider selection of songs that you could play. I don't think I ended up playing it often, if at all, and there definitely weren't as many evenings spent playing the game as we had my Freshman year. Rock Band was certainly still a big part of my college experience, which this sticker reminded me of. I don't know if the sticker is really tied to the game, since it's called Rock Band and this sticker is WII Rock. There is also the fact that Rock Band hasn't released a product that works on the WII since Rock Band 3 in 2010. Although this may also be because these types of games seem to be on the way out. I know they're still mildly popular but it seems like they have fallen out of favor over the years. Although I am certainly the last person to make that judgement call.
Since the Fourth of July is tomorrow, a patriotic sticker would seem to be the logical choice. I have to admit though that I can't say I've seen any that would fall into that category. Plenty that are protesting the government or ridiculing it, but there aren't too many artists out there that are looking to make America look good. So I figured focusing on a sticker that represented passion was a good consolation. I also really like this sticker, which is generally the underlying reason for pretty much all of my picks.
The heart is one of the most recognizable symbols around the world and plays a significant role across cultures. It can symbolize strength, the soul, spiritualism, passion, emotions, and most commonly love. It's become a staple in art, literature, advertisements, and in many ways even language. You can show anyone a heart and they will know what you are trying to say. Doing a little research into the concept of the heart and how it evolved into the symbol that it is today, I came across a lecture entitled "Affairs of the Heart: An Exploration of the Symbolism of the Heart in Art" by Gresham College. If you've got about forty minutes I highly suggest watching it since it is a fairly interesting look into the idea. What I find rather interesting about the evolution of the heart as a symbol is how in many ways it was kind of come full circle. If you look at early depictions of hearts in the art and iconography of early civilizations like the Aztecs or the Egyptians, it is fairly realistic in the way it's drawn. This obviously comes from the fact that the actual physical heart played a significant role in their cultures. For the Aztecs you need to sacrifice the heart of your enemy to gain their strength and wisdom. Egyptians held that the heart was where the soul was stored, so it was preserved separately to allow for judgement in the afterlife. As time moved forward the significance of the heart in culture continued to rise but the design starts to simplify. Greeks were among the first to associate love with the organ and felt that the heart looked fairly similar to a pine cone. These two ideas greatly influenced the people of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, which is where you truly start to see the heart develop. In a sort of parallel growth, the symbol of the heart became an important element in religion and in chivalry's representation of love. And despite the increasing enlightenment and understanding of what the heart actually looks like, the symbolic representation of the heart grew and eventually became in many ways more recognizable than the physical organ. (Again if you've got the time check out the lecture, since this is a very brief connection of the ideas they presented.)
While the heart symbol still plays a significant role in our society, I feel like there is starting to be a greater presence of the anatomically correct heart out there. I think part of it is the increased scientific knowledge surrounding the heart and the impressive functionality of it. There is a beauty to the complexity of the heart and the role it plays in our lives. We also tend to place a greater significance on these anatomically correct ones. You're not just a meaningless symbol of my love, you are my heart, a piece of me. Or it can be stripped of the idea of love and focus more on symbolizing strength, dedication, or passion towards an idea. For people that get anatomically correct hearts tattooed on themselves, it's a way to literally wear their passions on their sleeve. They also show a greater significance when representing the ideas of lost or suffering. A broken heart takes on a lot more meaning and sticks with you when it actually looks like one. So whether it's an appreciation of the scientific importance of the heart or a way to show an increased significance of an idea, images like tonight's sticker certainly stick with you.