When I was a kid a family friend used to pick me up from school and drop me off at home. The friend’s daughter and I always had a roaring time in the back seat, screaming and messing around like kids do. Then one day we were offered stickers for good behavior. And no stickers for bad behavior.
We silently collected a sticker each day and reverently stuck them on the inside of our wardrobes. We’d compare our collection when we visited each other’s houses and swap if we could agree on a fair trade. My friend moved away a long time ago, and I moved out of the family home. But my precious sticker collection remains in what is now my sister’s bedroom. And I’m not shy to admit that I do check in on them from time to time.
What is a sticker?
A sticker is a type of label made up of various materials that have a pressure sensitive adhesive on one side and an image on the other. They’re used for anything from decoration to functional purposes to bribing children. They can adhere to almost anything – walls, cars, clothing, and paper, to name a few.
While stickers are often associated with fun, they have quite a political presence, most commonly in the form of bumper stickers that demonstrate support for ideological or political causes.
A sticky bit of history
The history of stickers is more interesting than you might think. Some historians trace the origin of stickers back to ancient Egyptians where salespeople used a type of adhesive to advertise their wares. There is, however, conjecture about where the modern sticker originated. Some believe it was Sir Rowland Hill who invented the sticker in 1839 when he introduced the self-adhesive postage stamp. Others believe the stickers were created by European food merchants as an advertising technique – much like the Egyptians.
By the 1800s, lithography became the primary method for label making, though it was an expensive and complex process. But technology was moving quickly and toward the end of the century, and the labels became much more intricate and colorful. Labels around this time were affixed with a sticky gum or paste that required the user to lick or wet them before use. In the 1930s, R. Stanton Avery invented pre-cut stickers that didn’t require licking or wetting. As a result, stickers were used in mass as bumper stickers to distribute ideas to as many people as possible.
Because technology continued to streamline the making of labels, stickers exploded in popularity in the 1960s. This was especially the case for kids, who were fascinated by the colors and images. And they’ve “stuck” with us ever since.
Making your own photos into stickers
Making stickers is incredibly simple. You can send images to an online printing company and have a couple hundred stickers delivered to your door in a few days. Homemade stickers are a little different, but they’re more fun to make. They are also more personal, so they make lovely gifts too.
What you will need
- A printer
- Some images on a computer
- Plain sheets of label paper, not pre-cut
First of all, open up your label paper. Some label packs come with sheets pre-cut into rectangles. Make sure you purchase sheets that aren’t already divided up. You will need a plain solid sheet of label paper or your images could be cut in half.
Select a few images you are fond of. You could select images you find visually appealing, or perhaps some that hold some significance personally. Insert the label paper as you would a regular sheet of plain paper and print your images out.
Finally, cut out your images and you are ready to go! Your own personal stickers ready to use anywhere you like! Simple, right?
Of course, you don’t have to select your own images to print. Here I’ve sourced some designs for smaller stickers. Simply place your images into a Photoshop document as you would your selection of photographs. After printing simply cut them out and they are ready to go.
For this print of a cute little character named Pipo-Kun, I decided to add a layer of holographic contact paper to make the sticker a little more eye-catching. Peel and stick your original sticker to the front layer of contact paper. Then, when you want to stick your image somewhere, peel off the protective layer on the contact paper and stick it down instead.