One of the great things about my search is that I never know what I'm going to find. Impressively drawn and printed stickers, handwritten notes on name labels, business or band logos, and new creations I could hardly think of litter the streets of the city. Each one leaves a mark all it's own and gives a small taste of the creator and area it resides in.
I was wasting time before a doctor's appointment when I found this sticker in South Oakland. While it's nothing really special, just the school's usual logo, I like how it works in the photo. Small enough to be easily overlooked but leaves an impact with the contrasting colors and placement.
Clearly it's just a piece of the ubiquitous free items you got from Pitt that someone felt belonged on a fire hydrant. You see these types of things all over South Oakland; signs in apartment windows, flags hung on porches, and the lost paraphernalia along the streets. It gives this student heavy area of Oakland that extra bit of school spirit.
Everyone comes across those phrases that stick with them. Often quotes or lyrics, these phrases carry a deep meaning for the person who stumbles upon them. Some phrases are so powerful that they transcend generations and continue to affect new readers or listeners. Others are more confined, only being meaningful to a select few for a short period of time. But no matter what the scale of meaning is, once you've come across a meaningful phrase it's hard to forget.
My main mode of transportation is walking, so even when I don't have my camera I keep an eye out for stickers. On one of the many walks home from work I noticed a graffiti stencil on a transformer, I think, saying "bury me in soliloquies." I can't completely explain why, but that phrase struck me immediately. At first I thought it was the hopeless romantic in me connecting with a sentiment of longing. Bury me in those speeches of why you want me, why you miss me, etc. But thinking about it recently, I've started to think that it has to be more than that. A soliloquy is a discourse or utterance either to one's self or as if they were alone, according to Dictionary.com. So the phrase now is looking to bury you in private musings or someone's true feelings. To speak like the world isn't there to judge you or your thoughts. To be surrounded by the real opinions of others to such an extent that there can be no room for anything else. When I look at it that way, it's less about romance and more an acceptance of yourself and the true thoughts of others. Of course I could totally be reading way to into this.
Whatever the true reasoning or meaning behind this phrase is, I was happy when I found it as a sticker in Bloomfield. It is one of the few pieces I've found that exists as both traditional graffiti and sticker. I find both methods work for it though, as a private find or as an in your face statement. And while I didn't find an official website for it, I did find tumblr, Flickr, and Instagram posts from others who have found and felt the need to share this phrase (click on each site for a link to these posts). So whatever the author's true meaning behind the phrase is, it certainly has struck a chord.
One issue I generally run into on my search for stickers, is trying to remember why something seems familiar. Often it's a reference to an aspect of popular culture that is just escaping me at that moment. Other times it's a business or brand that I've seen before but not something I typically use or frequent. And while I can usually make the connection, eventually, I rarely am able to explain it to someone else.
When I found this sticker, I knew it was something I recognized. It took me a while but after walking away I remembered that Sir Sly is a band with a song that I liked. I admit that I was probably a little too proud of this particular sticker find. If you think about it, finding a band's logo on a college campus really isn't that hard of a feat. But I was still rather thrilled by the find and the fact that I managed to get such an interesting play with the reflection in the background. I mean it's the little things in life, right.
At the time I was still sharing an apartment with my brother so I decided to tell him about my most recent find. He listened to my story, out of a mutual sibling respect for each others eccentricities, but stared at me at the mention of Sir Sly. I tried to explain why he might know the band, attempting to sing the lyrics I could remember and tell him how long its been on the radio but to no avail. With every new piece of information I tried, the more confused he became. I don't know where the disconnect in my brain is but I really can't describe things to others in a way that easily makes sense. I know this a common issue for everyone, but I feel like it happens to me more than most.
Eventually I accepted defeat and pulled the song up on YouTube. Barely a few notes in, he looked at me and said, "Oh you mean that song." For those of you wondering, the song is "Gold" and I know you have heard it before.
The daily commute is a regular practice in the art of dissolving into the crowd. With headphones in and head down, most of us barely register our surroundings while we rush to our destination. I know I am certainly no exception to this rule, especially on routes that I end up traveling regularly for months. But from time to time there is something that breaks us out of our cycle. Sometimes it's a huge accident that draws us to the suffering like moths to the flame and other times it's something small that just happens to catch your eye.
Walking home from class one day my Junior year, I happened to notice a bright red splotch on the yellow transformer a couple of blocks away from my apartment. On closer inspection I realized it was a sticker of a 50's housewife in a gas mask that someone had placed there. I don't know if it was because of the bright color or the sticker's aesthetic, I mean who doesn't love apocalyptic housewives, but it became something I couldn't miss. Every time I had to walk that direction my eye went straight to that sticker.
The next year I was given an assignment to create a photography series of my choice. There was really only one option, I wanted to find more stickers. For the project I stayed in the North Oakland/ Pitt's campus, since it was the area I knew the best, and ended up finding a wide variety of styles and placements. I'd have to really search for it but I'm pretty sure it ended up being one of my better projects for the class.
After graduating, my photography definitely took a bit of a back burner and I really wasn't taking many pictures. Even though I wasn't taking pictures, I kept looking for stickers, they were so hard to miss now. When I got my digital camera at the start of 2015, the sticker project was just so easy to slip back into. And now that I have almost two years worth of stickers, I've decided to put them out there for all to share in my minor obsession.