Wow, isn’t this the topic of the day? Memo Pisa El Lodo is documenting it, LA City Nerd is complaining about it, Curbed LA is discussing it and L.A. Voice is asking some questions. There are an endless string of discussions to have about this stuff, and we’ve had a few of them here in the past, but since Mack asked one question I can answer right away, I figured I would. He writes:
“Initially, I resented 20MG plastering giant pills all over the utility boxes around Silver Lake – mostly because they looked like shit when people tried to remove them (what is that adhesive made of?) …”
Bingo. That is the point. With most street art, the idea of it being put there in the first place is for people to see it, however being that it is street art, it’s temporary by nature. So anyone involved with this stuff who spends more than 5 minutes copying an image onto sticker paper at Kinko’s has a delema to solve – how to put something up, that you know is going to come down, but keep it up at long as possible. There’s two pieces to that puzzle that most street artists have figured out. First off, the harder the art is to remove, and the worse it looks mid removal, the more chances that next time someone will opt to just leave it intact rather than try to remove it. (Shepard Fairey has actually addressed this in the art itself, with OBEY stickers that advised “it has been determined that this sticker can not be removed without damaging the integrity of the surface, please do not touch” and “it will take you at least an hour to remove this sticker, is that really the best usage of your time?”) So the harder it is to get the art off and the worst that looks, the better chance the piece will be left alone. Of course nature doesn’t read, or care about the visuals which brings us to the adhesive question. It’s nothing too crazy actually, but very effective. Every artist has their own flavor, but in most cases it’s a powdered wheat paste base. Just add water and you are good to go, however one rain and that is gone so the weat paste is mixed with a combo of sealents and water proofing liquids that you can pick up at any hardware store. Ideally, this combined with very thin paper that won’t peal off easily makes for a lasting image. Without human intervention, some posters that have been put up with this kind of mixture have lasted 3-4 years here in LA.