A city with a thriving street sticker scene, Washington is one big public canvass with thousands of artists vying for your eyeballs and attention. And even if you’re not trying to look, there are a handful of stickers so prevalent, so widely and cleverly stuck to signs and paper boxes, that you can’t help but notice and remember them. In the course of doing my own stickering, I’ve taken note (and taken pictures) of those that appear most frequently, in the most neighborhoods, with the most impact. If the goal is recognition, these stickers stand above the rest.
These are Washington’s 40 most ubiquitous street stickers:
40 If you’re reading this god is a black woman
Here’s hoping. These are from _WeAreBlack.
38 The Black T-Shirt Boys
A local band with a cluster of slaps concentrated in the LeBloomingdroit area.
37 Gorilla Fist
Gorilla Fist is a DC clothing company whose stickers appear most prominently along U Street.
36 DC Brau
In 2009, DC Brau became the first brewery to operate within the District in almost sixty years. Since then they’ve kept up a healthy sticker game, slapping their logo across the city.
35 Loud Boyz
Formed in 2014, Loud Boyz is a local band that “collides punk, hardcore, and garage rock.” Not a fan of the Playboy logo.
34 Tell your mom I’m in town
33 Eat at home
Unfortunately you won’t find any of these along 14th Street. For background, check out One Love Massive’s rumination on this sticker’s meaning.
32 Human Rights Campaign
30 Doll parts
If you’re walking through the Shaw or the U Street area you’ll likely spot a few colorful doll midsections stuck here and there. Its origins are unclear, but every time I see one I think of that Hole song Doll Parts. Who doesn’t want to be the girl with the most cake?
UPDATE: From a reader: The “doll” sticker is called ideal woman! It is an aniperfection symbol created by artist Allie Pohl. It’s the bottom half of Barbie proportionally blown up to western societies ideal measurement of 36-24-36. It serves as a reminder that YOU ARE THE IDEAL WOMAN
29 Lean Quatifah
Lean Quatifah is a Memphis-born GW student DJ trying to make a name for himself with his music and marketing. The latter effort consists of slapping hundreds of slim red stickers bearing his handle. If this list ranked volume, he’d be higher, but Quat’s ubiquity is hurt by the fact that most of his stickers are in remote Foggy Bottom and West End.
28 proper vibes
Proper vibes is the local record label and artist collective founded by Lean Quatifah and Cautious Clay. These are also most heavily concentrated in Foggy Bottom.
27 Powell For President
Found mostly within a mile of the White House, these anti-chemtrails stickers are from Ren Powell, a purported presidential candidate with just over 900 Twitter followers. A self-proclaimed pagan, sailor, and water treatment professional with a bio-engineering degree from Maryland, Powell’s platform consists of trust-busting Monsanto, backing the dollar with “medicinal colloidal silver,” supporting gay/gun/abortion rights, and ending international entanglements. I’d take him over Jeb! any day.
26 DC Guitar Lessons
DC Guitar Lessons‘ stickers, found mostly on the bottom of signposts, look like they’ve been around for a few years.
Signimals makes exquisite animal artwork on signs across the city. It’s some of the best sticker work in town.
24 Mas Paz
Mas Paz, or more peace, is Federico Frum’s project to raise awareness and funds for the Bogota orphanage where he was adopted.
22 Sabertooth Circle
The volume of this sticker isn’t that high, but its range is prodigious. You’ll find one or two in just about every neighborhood.
21 bad cat
Low budget bad cat mailing label slaps cover paper boxes from Woodley Park to H Street.
One of my favorites, the provocative #changethename sticker is the brainchild of Gregg Deal, an indigenous artist with murals and stickers across the country.
19 Coma ATB
COMA is a graffiti artist from PG County who’s been bombing DC for over a decade, and ATB is his crew.
18 Hazer Hemp83 Acer
Not sure what the story is with Hazer, but their slaps are pretty much everywhere.
17 Crotch Rot
AKA C-Rot and CROT, a local graffiti artist. Pictured above in LeDroit Park.
16 Peace Love Yoga Fest 2015!
This one’s a strange case. Peace Love Yoga Fest is DC’s annual day-long yoga festival, and this year, they got the word out by slapping hundreds of these yellow stickers across central DC. But the fest was in May, so now all the stickers are vestiges of peace and love gone by. It’ll be interesting to see if the festival stickers in 2016 as well; would they just cover the old ones?
UPDATE: A reader reports: The Peace Love Yoga Fest is WithLoveDC’s annual day-long music, yoga, meditation, and art festival! (www.peaceloveyogafest.com) And don’t worry, there are all new Peace Love Yoga Fest 2016 stickers coming this spring! <3 <3 <3)
15 Radio Rahim
Radio Rahim is a local hip-hop artist whose black and white stickers are more recognizable than his music.
14 Captain Arturo
Captain Arturo fights for non-violence, one sign at a time.
13 Kevin Caspa
Angry Kevin Caspa hits both Baltimore and DC with tags and stickers. Around these parts, he specializes in garbage cans.
UPDATE: a reader reports this is the work of Decoy, AKA Alice Cosnihan
11 Robama & Robot Griffin III
Robama and Robot Griffin III are two of BZA’s most popular MemeBots. They’ve been up for years now.
Jess3 is Jesse Thomas’ creative agency specializing in “data visualization.” He’s done a helluva job plastering his logos around town, especially the NASA knockoff.
9 The coffee cup headed duck
The coffee-headed duck cutout gained popularity when it adorned Dan’s Cafe in Adams Morgan. It has since spread to every well traveled part of town.
UPDATE: a commenter says it’s by an artist named Jerome (Here’s a Q&A he did)
UPDATE: The heart stickers are the logo of WithLoveDC, a movement to spread love, joy, and acceptance in the District. (www.withlovedc.com)
6 Property of DDOT
Little is know about prolific street artist DDOT beyond his uncanny ability to slap nearly every sign in the city before anyone else can hit it. DDOT’s minimalist style and trademark bar code is likely a statement on the nature of art as commodity.
5 Smear Leader
Smear Leader is seemingly everywhere these days, with stickers plastered along U Street, H Street, and everywhere in between. They’ve even started to travel the globe, with appearances in South America and Europe. The Kim Jong Un portrait is the the labor of love of an anonymous marketing professional whose smiling dictator made its biggest splash in October, when it briefly covered Bill Cosby’s face on the mural outside of Ben’s Chili Bowl on U.
4 one love massive
One Love Massive is a “booking agency and boutique marketing firm in DC providing social media management for businesses and artists, and talent management & bookings.” Their stickers are everywhere, but dominate the H Street/Near Northeast neighborhoods most fully. Their DC as Fuck design can be purchased as a t-shirt.
3 Jaswo’s TV-headed Sasquatch
Jawso is a prolific and well-respected tagger and slapper whose tv-headed Sasquatch characters (who I thought for years were dancing tv-headed astronauts) can be found everywhere in Washington where stickers are stuck. This, in addition to thousands of hand-written tag stickers and countless graffiti works. Jawso puts in the work.
2 Panic skull baby
There must be thousands of Panic’s skull-headed babies in this city, many of them stuck way up high, on the tops of sign backs where nobody can scrape them off. They’re in every single neighborhood, on seemingly every single sign, especially the circular red ones. Panic has been slapping and wheat pasting for at least 4-5 years now; he’s DC sticker royalty.
1 Gare Voyer
There was never any doubt about #1. If we’re going by sheer sticker ubiquity, then Gare Voyer runs this joint. An all-purpose graffiti artist whose true identity is unknown, Gare will slap absolutely anywhere, from bike racks and exposed pipes to sewer grates and the plastic coverings on small boulevard trees. Nothing is off limits and it’s never too much, which has apparently earned the ire of other local artists, who continue to deface Gare stickers across the city. Maybe they’re just jealous. Maybe Gare is a huge asshole. Maybe both. Regardless, you can’t take more than a few steps in this town without seeing his ubiquitous handle.
UPDATE: a reader reports that Gare and Voyer are two different taggers in the same crew. Anyone know more? Leave it in the comments.