king dias

I heard he had a rich uncle who made millions in the stickers industry, he died a while ago and left him his entire estate.

Late one night he was in the factory counting all his money in cash whilst drunk and trying to print a dozen stickers with his name on them. He passed out, the factory burnt down and left him with nothing but a few million stickers that happened to be blown outside during the fire.

He spends the rest of his days lamenting his loss and punishing himself by placing constant reminders of his mistake everywhere he goes… 

it’s sometimes said that in the uk, statistically, you’re never more than six feet away from a rat (in france, presumably, metrically, two metres). slightly more recent, slightly more scientific estimates (read: educated guesses) put that figure at something more like fifty metres, in urban areas [source: here]. 

interestingly, for scottish cities, this is also the maximum distance you might find yourself, standing at any given spot, from a DIAS sticker [source: i made this up]. if you’ve been to scotland, you’ll know what i’m talking about. if you haven’t, well, they’re big, they’re blue, they’re bad. and they’re fucking everywhere. 

so, who is this DIAS? who is this pretender to the throne? does he have a legitimate claim? and why, oh why, is he sticking these shit stickers all over the place? well, we’ll get to that. but first, some background. 

i am interested in stickers. stickers, paste-ups, street-art in general. graffiti too. i am interested personally, and professionally. i am concerned, one might say, with streets. with street art. if the street is my strip-mine, then street-art is my anthracite. 

i ask myself questions like:

what is art?
what is vandalism?

is there a difference?

if there is a difference, is there a line?
if there is a line, where is it?

is everything relative?
or are there absolutes?

but the street is also, to further force my mining metaphor, my slag-heap. i shit where i eat, so to speak. i stick stickers. 

but not just anywhere. not just anything. i haven’t yet plastered an entire scottish city with giant PSEUDO-stickers, or THIN KING, or WORD. 

you see, i have a code. for my stickers, that means, never stick on personal property. no cars or trees. never stick somewhere where subsequent partial peeling-off would make the place or thing ugly in a way it wasn’t before. with exceptions for particular aesthetic inventiveness or symbolic appropriateness, obvious impermanence, or if for some reason it just fits perfectly and to peel it off would be a crime against art.

other artists have different definitions of art and vandalism. different lines. different codes. 

the whole question resembles some intractable, possibly-insoluble optimisation problem. a big bag of snakes, squirming and worming like a set of nonlinear equations. 

is it art?
(which of course, begs the question, what is art?)

the variables:

  • is it meaningful?
  • does it ask a question? 
  • does it make me think? 
  • does it upset the right people (i.e. the wrong people)
  • is it ugly? (if so, other aspects of the work will need to be more compelling)
  • is it permanent? (as above)
  • what was there before? was that ugly?

(to clarify: ugly, in my calculations, can mean either aesthetically ill-favoured, or morally contemptible, for example, an advert, the offices of a multinational corporation, a prison, a fence, a wall.)

maybe none of that matters. maybe there are no absolutes, after all. maybe that’s just me, my way of thinking, my way of doing things. 

art = vandalism
vandalism = art

maybe you’re a street artist too. why do you do what you do? maybe you don’t have a reason. maybe you’re doing it for your own, sick, self-gratification. or maybe you do, but the reason is you just want to make things worse for everyone else. or better. 

maybe you’re evil. 

we will never, as a society, agree on what constitutes art, and what constitutes vandalism. that’s what the law is for. if we all already agreed on things, we wouldn’t need it. 

the law is absolute. 
the law says – this is art.
the law says – this is vandalism.
the law says – here is the line. 

and so…

DIAS, your spreadable, loveable majesty

are your stickers ART, or VANDALISM?

let’s see.

they’re definitely ugly. they’re ugly as fuck. 
they’re permanent(ish).
they do upset assholes. unfortunately, they also upset everyone else.

so far, so bad. 

what about meaning? there is no meaning. 
questions? there are none. 
there is only DIAS. 

vandalism then, presumably. but…

i am thinking. 

i’m thinking as follows. 

many street artists are anonymous. or at least pseudononymous. 

we don’t know their motives.
we don’t know how, given the opportunity, and the inclination, they might justify what they do.

so here’s my made-up motivation. in instructional form. 


how anyone can make a difference
in a way that doesn't demand bloodshed
or blowing anything up
just stickers

take a few thousand stickers
(maybe ten thousand, to start with)
you'd be surprised at how cheap that is
probably not much more than a thousand pounds

stick them everywhere

don't be circumspect about it
don't be choosy
don't be discreet
don't be thoughtful
don't even think
just stick

do at least  a hundred every night
it can be your thing
your art
your way of life

fill your city
travel to another city
fill that too



you're everywhere
people know you
people hate you
but they know you

you've shown them
the fuckers.