Origins of Settings

Origins of Settings

No one ever woke up & thought “I need a large graphical sticker upon which to place other stickers.” But if you squint, you'll find that Settings are more than 100 years in the making. 

Whether staring at a white box with a blinking cursor or sitting in front of an easel, sometimes you just need a little help to get going: a prompt, a suggestion, a provocation. Responding to something is often easier than building from nothing. When you view the world as a canvas, you can say goodbye to starting from scratch. Any existing piece of visual media or surface is a potential jumping-off point for your imagination, ready to remix. 

Arguably the pioneer of this perspective, was the mischievous Marcel Duchamp. In his LHOOQ, he curiously scribbled a moustache on a photograph of the world’s most famous painting. For centuries, people stared into the Mona Lisa’s eyes, trying to understand her, with hands behind their backs, comfortably behind the Louvre’s “do not touch” line. Duchamp looked at her, reached over the “guardrail,” and gestured right back. He saw it not as a finished painting worthy of worship, but as an invitation to create new possibilities. His masterpiece piggybacked off of Leonardo’s. 

The collage community understands the Settings format better than most. Clipping characters & props from newsprint is fun, but magic is easier to make when they’re placed in “on set” (much as a director would orchestrate when filming a movie or producing a play). While not necessary, Settings provide context for how individual stickers relate to one another. They reduce the time it takes to turn untethered people & objects into stories or compelling pictures. As such, in the collaged world, it’s common practice to collect DIY settings from second-hand bookstores & flea markets. With Apply Settings, we’ve done the work for you by sourcing provocative pictures that not only stand on their own but will also jump-start your collage. 

You know who else (implicitly) understands Settings in sticker form? Street artists! Perhaps the two most iconic Settings you’ll find in alleyways & on signage are the Postal Label #228 and the iconic “Hello My Name Is” badge. While not as visually inspiring as our Settings, their ubiquity, simplicity, negligible cost created a familiar prompt to respond to. 

What makes Settings even more compelling to an artist “on the go”? They come with their “hanging technology,” their sticky backing, baked in. Once you’ve crafted your creation, all you have to do is peel it & place it. No screws, nails, tools - or hardly any mess! And - what’s good for the streets is equally good for your homes. Apply Settings are also backed with our classic Magic Stick adhesive, enabling you to easily display your creations on larger personal devices or the surfaces that define your life, without fear of damaging them. 

We love the promise of the Setting as a product category, but we also know that our first attempt is bound to be imperfect. If you have thoughts on how the Settings product can be improved, we would love to hear from you! And however you use them, please share with us @Applystickers on IG. We cannot wait to see how you Apply!

Image Credits:

  • Leonardo da Vinci, The Mona Lisa, 1503-1506, Oil on poplar panel.
  • Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of an Elderly Man (Self-portrait), 1512, Red chalk on paper.
  • Man Ray, Portrait of Marcel Duchamp, 1920-1921, Photograph.
  • An array of vintage Life Magazines 
  • DB Burkeman & Monica LoCascio, Stickers - stuck-up piece of crap: From Punk Rock to contemporary art. New York: Rizzoli, 2010.

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