Sharing the buzz on custom stickers--branding and marketing, street art, graphic design, guerilla marketing and more.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Smoking Out the Competition: HotVapes Personal Vaporizers

HotVapes started in early 2010, after Tim Roche's girlfriend Helen got her first personal vaporizer (also known as an e-cigarette). At the time, she was a pack-a-day smoker who had no intention of quitting--but after using her new vaporizer, she walked off an airplane and never bought another pack. Tim realized that if it helped her, there was a good chance it would be able to help others, too. Thus was HotVapes born.

Currently, the company sells a number of different personal vaporizer packages at different price points, as well as a selection of different flavored liquids. These liquids contain propylene glycol (a common chemical approved for foods) mixed with flavors, much like a hookah tobacco, but without the toxic chemicals such as carbon monoxide, tar, and benzenes. These liquids are available in flavors like Mango, Blueberry Fest, and Coconut Dream Pie, and are available with or without nicotine.

While HotVapes is still just starting out--and mainly sells through its website, company is seeing more and more distribution at tobacco and headshops across the country. (In case you were wondering, despite the fact that they've been covered in Headquest Magazine, HotVapes cannot be used for marijuana.) The company's merchant customers are expected to display the HotVapes sticker in their storefront windows, letting the public know that they carry HotVapes personal vaporizers. In this way, HotVapes hopes to make its brand easily identifiable to anyone familiar with personal vaporizers.

Why did Tim and Helen choose Custom Sticker Makers for their sticker printing?  "Mainly we liked your site, found it easy to navigate and your customer service was very good," said Tim. "Reasonable prices always helps, too."

(Bottom photo: Ash's Wicker Park Tobacconist, Chicago)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Stuck Up Piece of Crap: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art

Memorably title, "Stickers: Stuck Up Piece of Crap: from Punk Rock to Contemporary Art" is a new art-book by DB Burkeman with a little help from street art icon Shepard Fairey (as well as Monica LoCascio and Carlo McCormick). Together, the authors tackle the history of stickers in a variety of musical sub-cultures, including punk rock, raves and hip-hop.

Says one Amazaon reviewer: "To be brief, if you have even a passing interest in Punk Rock, Graffiti Art, Rave Culture, Club Culture, Sub Culture or just Graphic Design, this book is an absolute must have. Essays by the Authors and Shepard Fairey beautifully connect the dots from the sub culture of sticker design, production and broadcast to its influence on our every day lives. The book is wonderfully, curated, and the design on the pages is beautifully laid out." chimes in with:
"For DB Burkeman, stickers are those little markers that document our culture. Whether it's the first 'Watch out! Punk is coming!' sticker slapped up on the Lower East Side in late 1970s or a 1930s R. Stanton Avery silk-screened political bumper sticker, they capture a point in time that somehow defined American culture. So it only makes sense that Burkeman, along with his partner, Monica LoCascio, got to researching the art of stickers and churned out Stickers: From Punk Rock to Contemporary Art. The 300-page book traces the visual and social history of the medium, and explores the relationship artists have with their pieces and how they communicate with viewers."

Jeff over at the Websticker blog also has good things to say, so we know, as far as stickers go, this book has got the goods.

At $23.10, this book seems like a good deal for a coffee-table book--but here at Custom Sticker Makers, we're interested in the deluxe hardcover $175.00 version, complete with vintage stickers. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Sneaker Sticks: Vans Fansite Goes Off the Wall

Bill Cruz is man with a passion for sneakers--Vans, in particular. A few years back, he discovered a number of kindred souls online, many of them Vans collectors, all of them part of a bigger sneaker subculture that's seen rapid growth over the last decade. Together, they created a web forum for fans of all things Vans, now in its second incarnation at

Since launching the new site last year, Bill-and friends have amassed about 550 daily hits on average to their blog, and grown a forum to the 200 member mark. Clearly, there are a lot of people with a passion for Vans. The question, of course, was how to reach more of them. 

Custom stickers were a natural fit for a  fansite promoting this brand, as custom stickers have long been a staple of the streetwear clothing industry (which no doubt appreciates the free advertising on skateboards, BMX bikes, and the like). In creating a sticker for the Off The Wall Site, Bill and company took an iconic Vans model and produced a die-cut version of it, with their website across the sidewall of the shoe. 

Why Custom Sticker Makers? Bill--officially known as DJGaumstyles--was looking for a sticker site that was willing to do small orders, as most sites require a 1000 minimum--far more than they needed to get started. "I have never ordered stickers before, ever, but ordering from you guys was so seamless, and quick, that I will definitely be using you guys again, and I will refer others for sure," he told us. Apparently, CSM's prices didn't hurt, either. "Your prices are the cheapest around, but make no mistake, we are getting well more than what we pay for, when ordering from you guys!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Annals of Sticktivism: Textbook Disclaimer Stickers

Since 1996, Alabama has mandated that an evolution disclaimer sticker be placed in every biology textbook in the state. Frustrated with this--as well as a similar set of stickers used by the Texas Board of Education and Georgia's Cobb County School District--Swarthmore associate professor of evolutionary biology Colin Purrington decided to take matters into his own hands and create some stickers himself.

Printable on a home printer on standard-sized labels, many of these stickers mimic the language of the Cobb County disclaimer, which reads: "This textbook contains material on evolution. Evolution is a theory, not a fact, regarding the origin of living things. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered."

Many of Purlington's labels were also designed to go on science textbooks, pointing out that things like gravity and heliocentricism are also scientific theories--while others are actually designed for pseudo-science books promoting creationism.

Apparently, Purlington has received some hate mail for his efforts on behalf of science education--but we imagine, with over 4 million visitors to this page, he's made some friends, as well. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Aspen ZGreen: the Green, Local Label

In Aspen, Colorado, being green and being local both mean a lot. In order to help the Aspen's businesses and events show their community pride and commitment to the environment, the City of Aspen offers an innovative program called Aspen ZGreen. Under this program, businesses, citizens and events can apply for ZGreen certification. If they meet the standards (and complete a successful audit), they become ZGreen certified.

The City of Aspen rewards certification with space on their website, radio and newspaper ads and publicity at local events. Members of the community reward ZGreen certified businesses by voting with their dollar. The name ZGreen comes from the old Aspen license plates that used to start with ZG. (Apparently, if you still have a ZG license plate, then everyone knows you are a true 'local' or 'old timer'--which, in Aspen, means a lot.) 

Although the program is local, the program was created to provide a model for other cities and towns interested in going green and promoting the local economy. The program has grown in the last few years, and recently, Aspen took a big step in making ZGreen certification mandatory for all large public events. A key grassroots strategy for promoting the Aspen ZGreen brand has (of course!) been custom stickers

These stickers, designed to resemble the Colorado license plate, are distributed all over Aspen at City-sponosred events. Ashley Cantrell of Aspen ZGreen told us that custom stickers were the easiest way to start branding, and so far, they've worked great.

"We choose Custom Sticker Makers because the prices were reasonable and the website was easy to use," said Ashley. "I had a question about my order, so I called and I was amazed that someone actually answered the phone and knew about my order without having to go into some database for 15 minutes. Since then, I always work with CSM because it feels like a small company, almost like they are right here in Aspen."

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Stuff We Like: Cheeky Suitcase Stickers

Sick of searching among hordes of similar suitcases in baggage claim? Have a snarky sense of humor? Well then, you are a prime candidate for these cheeky suitcase stickers.

Designed by Colin Hunt and Ryan McCormick, two enterprising Vancouver entrepreneurs, these large stickers can be placed directly on your luggage to give the impression that something (in the words of Canada's CBC) "strange or nefarious" is going on inside.

The Abducted Flight Attendant is one of four designs, which also includes the Suitcase Full of Cocaine, the Suitcase Full of Money, and the ever-popular, Suitcase Full of Personal *ahem* Massage Devices. They're available for $15 each or $40 for 3 via The Cheeky, which has this to say about them:

"Take a stand against monotonous travel with Suitcase Stickers. Designed to stick to anything, they will draw attention to your bag making it easily identifiable and sure to make you some new friends.

Caution: Some of these stickers may cause offense to airport and immigration staff. But you would have figured that out whilst enjoying those cavity searches."

We sticker connoisseurs at Custom Sticker Makers think these are hilarious--but wonder, will they really stick to anything? (Even the canvas-type material of most roller bags?)