To celebrate the fifth National Sticker Day and StickerGiant's 20th year in business, we're taking a look way back into the archives to bring our Top Ten Stickers of All Time. Since every sticker has a story, we're going take some time and dive into these blasts from the past.
All of these stickers (and labels) have a place in the hearts and minds of millions of people, and this is just a select list...we know there's thousands of stickers and labels that fans love.
Avery Labels: The Sticky Solution That Started An Industry
Ray Stanton Avery was born on January 13th, 1907, and that's why we celebrate National Sticker Day on his birthday. By 1935, Avery was an entrepreneur who created the "Avery Kum Kleen Labels," and this product became the first commercially available self-adhesive label.
The company grew into the Avery Dennison Corporation, which today has over 16,000 employees in 37 countries and sales in the billions each year. You can see the original box and design of the stickers above.
Political Stickers: From He's Not My President to I Voted and I Like Ike
Every four years, the "I Voted" sticker has become synonymous with democratic participation, and political stickers are one of our top picks for an all time favorite.
The "I Voted" Sticker traces its origins back to the 1980s, with an article from 1982 in the Miami Herald that mentions a business giving discounts to customers wearing the sticker.
Taking a look back even further, the first presidential election that used adhesive bumper stickers in political campaigns was the 1952 election between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson II. Bumper stickers allowed citizens to show support for a candidate while still maintaining some anonymity, and the I LIKE IKE Sticker created a phenomenon that lingers to this day.
In fact, StickerGiant was started with one single political bumper sticker in the aftermath of the undecided Election of 2000. John Fischer, channeling his inner Stanton Avery, came up with the slogan "He's Not My President" and started selling stickers and other merchandise as the election results dragged on into January of 2001 when it was decided by the US Supreme Court. The phrase played to all sides of the political spectrum, and that first idea helped launch the business. By 2011, StickerGiant was transitioning to custom printing, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Lisa Frank Stickers: Rainbows and Unicorns and Panda Bears, Oh My!
Lisa Frank is a popular brand soaked in nostalgia. Back in 1979, Lisa Frank started a school supply brand that targeted Gen X'ers who grew up in the 1980s slapping stickers on their Trapper Keepers and folders.
Today, the Lisa Frank brand has been embraced by millennials. Frank originally hails from Detroit, and she started as an artist selling her wares in high school. A jewelry line inspired the first round of stickers, and at age 24, she received her first million-dollar order from Spencer Gifts. The big boom started in the late 1980s with the school supply line that featured rainbows, unicorns and the iconic Panda Bear. At first, all designs were created with an airbrush technique, taking many hours to complete, and in 1989 the designs moved to computer software. The brand continues into the digital age, showing the durability of a good sticker concept.
COEXIST Stickers: Expressing Unity
Polish graphic designer Piotr Mlodozeniec created the now-iconic Coexist image in 2000 for a Israeli art contest themed “Coexistence.” The original design was only the letters C, X, and T as symbols but now has been reinterpreted into many different concepts, with each letter as a different belief, from religion to other forms of expression.
While the design didn't win at the art show, the artwork went on tour and become a popular copy for graffiti artists. Over time, the artist had to go through legal battles with people using it without permission. Students from Indiana University made slight changes and tried to trademark it for their own lifestyle brand. In the post-9/11 world, the design gained popularity as a slogan for world peace, and then it really took off when Bono and U2 made it the focal point of their 2005 Vertigo tour. The original creator believes it’s up to us to truly coexist with one another.
Andre the Giant has a Posse: Skateboard Culture and Street Art
Andre the Giant Has A Posse is a sticker from Shepard Fairey, who designed it in 1989 when he was a student it at the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). The concept then turned into a street art campaign. The original design shows Andre the Giant with his height and weight, made from an ad in a newspaper while teaching a friend how to stencil. This sticker turned into an inside joke with skaters and hip-hop subculture. Eventually Fairey was forced to remove the image and the likeness of Andre, so he switched to more simple OBEY and OBEY GIANT stickers. Fairey rose again to great acclaim during the 2008 presidential campaign when he designed the famous HOPE image of then-candidate Obama.
Hello My Name Is Stickers: Bringing People Together
The "Hello My Name Is" name tag sticker was first introduced by C-Line products in 1959, and the original size is still the classic 3.5 x 2.25 inch design. In a way, the genius behind this design is the blank space, where the person who is about to apply the sticker to their shirt can get creative or keep it simple.
Either put your name or draw a picture or write a short sentence in small handwriting. It was originally created for small meetings, seminars, and conferences, and it's been bringing people together for decades. We see many different treatments of name tag stickers in our shop, and it's always nice seeing stickers that help people make a connection in real life. Shepard Fairey credits the “Hello My Name Is” stickers as one of the popular stickers in Providence, RI, when he started creating stickers and stencils.
Family Car Stickers: My Honor Student and Stick Figures
This selection is a nod to the humble bumper sticker, or the sticker that created the portable billboard. Printing historians give credit for the bumper sticker to silkscreen printer Forest P. Gill of Kansas City, Kansas Gill. During the postwar era of the 1940s, Gill realized the self-adhesive paper used during the WWII for supplies and labels could be used to advertise promotional products. Now the Honor Student sticker is viewed as the new-age version of children receiving merit from teachers or schools, a long-standing tradition dating back to the one-room schoolhouse. Stickers related to schools also blend into the stickers you'll see for extracurricular activities like football teams, school bands, and theater performances.
Now, the stick figure family is a more modern invention, but still on the theme of kids and parental celebration. This particular concept got popular in 2006 when Woodland Manufacturing in Boise, ID, started selling these stickers. They soon created familystickers.com and then started selling in stores like Bed, Bath, & Beyond.
Now, both of these family oriented stickers have taken on a life of their own, with versions like "My Kid Beat Up Your Honor Student" and stick figures that look like Star Wars characters. The parody versions of these designs play on popular culture and whatever is happening in the zeitgeist at the moment, and they make for interesting conversations at stoplights and parking lots everywhere.
Chiquita Banana Stickers: An Icon in the Fruit Aisle
The Chiquita Banana blue sticker is one of the most iconic symbols in the grocery store. For the Chiquita brand, the label is considered their calling card. In 1944, they debuted Miss Chiquita and then became the first company to label a banana. The idea of sticking labels on bananas started in 1963 because machines were too rough and bruised this delicate fruit, and they still place a blue sticker on them by hand almost sixty years later.
They've done all kinds of different promotional tie-ins for movies, the Olympics and even a design challenge in 2010 where they built a web tool for people to create their own sticker ideas. They received 25,000 entries in less than five months. Then the competition featured 1,355 entries submitted that led to 18 total designs selected to put on actual Chiquita bananas.
Grateful Dead Stickers: Creating Community on the Road
There’s no doubt that the "Steal Your Face" stickers featuring a skeleton head with a lightning bolt and a red-white-and-blue color scheme have been on a long, strange trip since the very beginning. As the Grateful Dead became a full-fledged cultural phenomenon in the 1970s, their fans started hitting the road to catch as many shows as possible.
And on the bumpers of countless VW buses you'd find the "Stealie" logo or the "Dancing Bears" or the "Dancing Terrapins," which are all iconic designs from the band. While we'll call this a "music or band sticker" in general as one of our top stickers of all time, it's worth highlighting the impact of the the Grateful Dead on the music business and fan merchandising. Each season, we see many different designs from Deadheads, and when certain bands pass through Colorado and play Red Rocks, we see custom stickers promoting and commemorating those concerts.
The Oval Sticker: A Well-Traveled Style
The oval-shaped sticker is a truly classic sticker, and we're bringing into our top ten list because of how versatile and how ubiquitous the design of the oval sticker has become. It's a well-traveled sticker style that traces its roots to Europe in the early 20th century.
European countries are smaller in size and drivers often have to cross from country to country, and the license plates all looked very similar in those days. To solve the confusion, they came up with the idea of making it required to put a white oval-shaped sticker with black country initials on the back of all vehicles. This European custom became an international requirement in many countries after the U.N.’s Geneva Convention on Road Traffic (1949) and Vienna Convention on Road Traffic (1968).
Today, oval stickers with an international circulation mark are not as common anymore, since standard European Union number plates have integrated the country code into a blue strip on the left side of the plate. This blue section is actually the flag of Europe (a circle of 12 yellow stars on a blue background), with the country code of the member state underneath.
During the early 1980s, when things were flashy in America and people want to signal status, it was a popular move to slap the German “D” oval sticker (Deutschland) on a BMW and take to the highway representing your affiliation with the Euro lifestyle.
Soon, other Americans started putting all kinds of stickers on their cars in order to boast about their marathon running accomplishments, their kids, or their trips to fun tourist attractions. As such, the white oval bumper sticker turned into a status symbol, and people started making Euro-looking stickers with abbreviations for places in the USA. Common stickers in the oval shape were “MV” for Martha’s Vineyard, “CA” for California, and “OBX” for the Outer Banks of North Carolina.
Now we see the oval circle sticker used in many different ways, with triathlon and running events, National Parks stickers, and other tourist attractions using the oval sticker style to express themselves and their passion.
As you can see, this is just a small portion of what's possible with a selection of ten categories of stickers to make up an all-time list.
Now we want to see the favorite stickers from our fans. What's your sticker story?