JMa Stickers: What and Why

One day in the winter of my sophomore year, wandering aimlessly in a book store, I ran into a large book with a fancy cover named OBEY: Supply & Demand – The Art of Shepard FaireyI have heard the name “Shepard Fairey” from the famous Obama “Hope” poster, so I bought the book in order to learn more about this artist.
It turned out that Shepard Fairey was a RISD alumni. While still a student, he, along with several of his friends, spontaneously started the “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign.

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Fairey made stickers featuring the face of wrestler Andre the Giant. They firstly appeared in the streets of Providence, Rhode Island and soon were spread to other major cities in the US. While this piece of artwork was growing popular, Fairey adopted it as one of the most classical designs of his own clothing line, OBEY.
After I read the story, all I thought was “dude this guy is so cool” and “wish I could get into RISD one day”. Nothing else ever occurred to me, and soon the book, along with this story, was forgotten and left collecting dusk on my bookshelf.
Yet, this story struck me again three years later, while I was trying out different color combinations for my self-portrait prints in the Spring of 2016. “I could turn my self-portrait into a sticker!” Suddenly this idea formed in my mind. Without thinking twice, I opened my self-portrait file in Photoshop, and started playing around.

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Photoshopped Self-portrait                                                           “The Seal of Jiaju Ma”

I altered my self-portrait into the black and white image shown above to give the sticker design a style of carving. To further reinforce such style and my cultural identity, I scanned my Chinese name seal (the image on the right) and integrated into my final sticker design.
After I finished my design, I uploaded it onto a website specializing in custom stickers. Originally I only wanted a few for myself, but the website required a minimum of 70. Apparently 70 stickers are too much to keep for myself, so I started to give them away to my friends. Some of them rejected my sticker instantly and called “stupid” and “narcissistic”, while the better ones of them accepted it happily.

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After graduation, a thirteen-hour flight back home, and several days to fight against jet lag, Mino invited me to see an art show in 798, Beijing’s premier art district. Another idea sparked in my mind; I should post my stickers across 798! Since it is a place where graffiti and stickers are praised upon instead of being cleaning away as soon as spotted, my stickers can live long and prosper there.

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There are about twenty stickers in 798 now. I wanted to put more but I ran out of stickers. I had to admit that I had the feeling of doing something illegal when I posted all these stickers. Who cares though. Art conquers all.

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If you ever come to 798 and run across one of my stickers. Take a picture and send it to me. I will buy you dinner.


@Beijing, China
Jun.19th, 2016

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