Whether it was a shoebox or an old cigar case, everyone had a “sticker box” when I grew up skating. At 13 I remember being so obsessed that we would go to the skate shop just to steal them. It sounds silly now, stealing handfuls of $0.75 – $2.00 stickers, but this was our post skate sesh ritual. My buddy would distract the clerk and I’d reach over the front desk and grab as many stickers as I could from underneath the glass case. I think years later they started installing cameras because of theft but at that point I was 15 or 16 and moved on from stealing stickers to stealing condoms and weird stuff from sex shops.
Sadly my sticker box is long gone now, but after finding Skateboardstickernerd101 on Instagram I was able to relive a little piece of it. If you ever wanted to visit your childhood or just see what amazing skateboard artwork you missed out on, check out some of this guy’s collection below:
How many stickers do you actually have?
I’m guessing maybe around 2500. They are organized by company in photo albums and I have a shoe box for larger ones.
Have you ever pleasured yourself to the smell of a fresh vinyl sticker?
No, I sniff new shoes that’s about it.. [laughs] Have you?
What is it about stickers you like so much then?
Well for one it’s a cheaper alternative to collecting decks and I guess it’s the artistic side of skating. I used to draw skate graphics (like I’m sure everyone did) when I was real young so I have an appreciation for the artwork and process involved. Some of the actual stickers are different than the board they represent too, so it’s cool to see how the artist came up with an alternative take on the actual deck’s artwork.
Are there any brands you never collected / avoided cause you thought their artwork sucked?
Yes. I was not really stoked on the direction World Industries took with the Devilman and Flameboy stuff. I find that today Element is kinda bland as is a lot of the new Plan B graphics but the boards are sick to ride though! Just too many sporty jersey style graphics, give the youth something to think about at least!
Do you think kids these days are missing out on skateboard graphics?
Yes, I think that the idea of skate art doesn’t get promoted like it did back then. I think now maybe a lot of companies may see it as saving money for royalties. I can’t speak for others but themes based around one logo idea is boring to me, some companies are relying heavily on that approach. It has become a jock sport now rather than a creative activity, so the idea of skating being an art form is kinda obsolete amongst the new gen. I think Anti Hero and Krooked are keeping as far from jock as possible at least!
What are your most valuable stickers and how did you get them? How much do you think they are worth?
I’m not really sure what my most valuable ones are, as prices on eBay can change very quickly and I have seen stickers sell for nearly $100 bucks also sell for $10. It’s all up to how badly you want the sticker. For the most part they are all somewhat rare especially stuff from the 80s and 90s and there’s a bit of 70s stuff floating round as well. You can find some stickers consistently on eBay from the golden eras but as far as the scarce stuff you have to be diligent or have had it from back then. It doesn’t hurt to make good contacts with people in the industry either.
Was there ever a “golden age” of skate stickers?
The 80’s and early 90’s had some of the most memorable artwork on skateboards ever! All those Jim Phillips, VCJ and Marc McKee pieces mean as much to me now as when I was growing up. I think making provocative graphics now is much harder as people are too sensitive and look to be politically correct. The great graphics from yesteryear will probably never happen again. Obviously not all graphics are going to be of the Rocco era calibre and there are some companies that are releasing good graphics these days. The Kayo brands, Baker/Deathwish stuff and the Girl & Chocolate one-offs are all pretty sick.