Being an artistic sort of fellow, I find great pleasure in discovering my inner adaptations of creativity. One tool I am most pleased to have discovered is the sticker. Part of me enjoys combining them in unusual ways to create interesting scenes. Very often I use stickers in my cards for occasions of various sorts, to kick my message up a notch.

I don’t go into rub-on transfers, even though they are superior in appearance to stickers. I’m not much of a fan of the “raised” stickers that seem to have come forth in recent years. Puffy stickers can be good, and interesting textures can make a sticker extra special. But the stickers that amount to paper constructions of animals or accessories with an adhesive backing don’t do it for me.

I’ve been serious about my acquisition of stickers since 1993. That’s when I was playing a lot with stamps, markers and stickers to enhance my letters to friends. I started going into craft stores and picking up stickers that helped me express my metaphysical explorations. Pretty soon I found myself keeping a regular eye out for interesting stickers and they started to arrive. While I wouldn’t consider myself possessed of a rare collection in the least, I like to think I have a wide variety of common stickers that serve my purposes.

The memory-album phenomenon, where you create a photo album and trick it up with stickers, paints and ribbons, never caught a hold of me. I find the concept cool; it just doesn’t float my boat artistically. I like looking at my pictures or my keepsakes individually and then putting them back away in their containers. It’s my particular way of meditating on my past.

So, what do I have? Well, I try to keep a bunch of stickers indicative of holidays like Easter, Christmas, Halloween, Valentine’s Day, and Saint Patrick’s Day. I keep a lot of dinosaurs, animals and sea creatures. Gemstones, stars, suns and moons. The current popularity of pirates has caused me to develop a large assortment of ships, chests, and treasure maps. Vegetables, fruits, and junk food are in the mix. Flowers, trees and grasses. I’d better not forget the miscellaneous crowd, made up of various strange acquisitions. For example, I have a collection of Botan Rice Candy stickers from my days of raiding the local Japanese food store.

There are sticker books in the mix as well. Usually these are on the higher end of quality. Celtic monograms, Pennsylvania Dutch symbols, Whales, Monsters, and Paintings of famous artists. I usually use these to seal envelopes with, since they are so large and make a nifty centerpiece.

I have gaps in my collection, primarily because stickers are considered a “feminine” activity and therefore most subjects are presented from a nurturing or non-threatening point of view. Sports and military stickers are often just not very “cool”. It’s as if the mainstream sticker manufacturers don’t want the “feminine” audience to get too excited by getting a hold of active or exciting subject matter.

There’s been some change. For example, stickers depicting glasses or containers of alcohol have been showing up, and that’s a plus. Sticker sets with a theme (like the wild west) have allowed certain types of symbols to leak into the mainstream. But for the most part it’s very hard to get stickers of, say, spaceships, construction equipment, or race cars.

I imagine there’s this character walking around town dropping off sticker packs at various random locations. This character is able, by means of advanced magical technology, to keep tabs on what people are buying where and when, and who they are. I like to call this character the “Sticker Stasher”. Now if I could only find out where this elusive being is hiding all the good stuff!

Every now and then I come across a new store with a forgotten stand of stickers at the back, and then “everything’s coming up videos”. Or a fresh batch of stickers with a new take on Xmas trees or presents will come in, and I can use them to replenish my stock. There are the bargain bin collections for a buck where you pick up several hundred awesome first-rate farm stickers. And of course the odd sticker collection that comes as a bonus with some other craft set you buy. Pick up a box of cards, get some stupendous frog stickers while you’re at it!

I wonder how certain stickers come into my possession. Is the Sticker Stasher teasing me with small crumbs, testing my devotion to this lost art of accumulating instant symbols for accentuation? Oh, will I ever level up and see some new trick or glorious collection? In the meantime, I’ll have to content myself with such odds and ends as I can find, and making things of interest to delight my friends and those fortunate few who find themselves receiving a surprise.