As a creative producer Luella Lane has worked for some of the biggest brands including Urban Outfitters, Diesel, Habitat and most recently Louis Vuitton before going freelance. Her work is varied and eclectic, but the constant with Luella is her collections of things, from vintage luggage to Hello Kitty ephemera.
Recently she rediscovered her childhood collection of stickers from 1980s America and instantly fell back in love with the garish colours, the simple illustrations and the creativity and dedication that went into building a sticker collection. Feeling like every child should build up a sticker collection, here Luella tells us about how she started her own collection and which stickers she’s on the hunt for now.
I have two little girls and they love stickers, but when they get them they put them all over the house and themselves so I spend my time picking them up and just putting them into the bin. One day I suddenly remembered my sticker book from when I was a kid and luckily my mum still had it – I come from a long line of hoarders.
Sticker albums were so much a part of childhood culture in America. In the 80s you’d bring your sticker book to school and you’d trade them, and this album (which I got in 1982) was to keep all your stickers in and organise them. It seems like that’s never really existed in the UK, which is a shame.
Tristan Cluett: Sticker album
The cover says Mrs Grossman’s Official Sticker Album, Mrs Grossman was the shiz back in the day. It was a brand, but the letter at the back ‘from her’ was so sweet. Then there’s this pouch in the back for you to keep stickers you’d traded and your extra backing paper. So if you decided to give a sticker to someone you could put it on some paper for them so they could take it and add it to their collection.
The place I used to go to get stickers in Washington DC was called Sullivans and that was like a real treat when I got to go there because it was quite far from my house. They would have stickers on the reel, so you could pull as many as you needed, it was awesome. I can’t remember my first sticker ever, but I remember the tongue one at the front being a really big deal at the time. I traded it and remember thinking the size of it and the rigidity was really cool. I remember the textured ones featuring quite heavily too because of the way they felt. And then there were the Oilies (oil-based stickers), you never traded those because they were a lot more expensive than the other ones. Even now they still look pretty cool.
The perfect sticker is hard to describe. It might be the size, the artwork, the colour, maybe it’s 3D. The page with just the grid and the dots is so simple and when I got the book back, it’s the page that speaks to me more as an adult. It’s like a pared back version of Yayoi Kusama’s Obliteration Room at the Tate. When I was growing up though I was more interested in the puppies and the characters because they were more animated and fun. And the hearts, hearts were big in the 80s.
These Mello Smello ones are some of my favourites now, the artwork is fantastic. But the smell has really stayed with me. When I smell grape jelly it’s crazy. I go back to 1983, and remember exactly what I was wearing, what I was listening to. It’s super nostalgic. It’s what’s made me go on the hunt for more. The loose circular, scratch ’n’ sniff stickers are the really interesting ones, I’m gonna put these in a frame because they’re just too good.
Tristan Cluett: Details
What drew me to collecting stickers is the variety. My problem is that I like everything. I think because I travelled a lot as a kid, I’ve been exposed to a lot so I know what I like. It also meant I had the edge when I was younger because I had stickers from other countries that some kids didn’t have.
I’ve always enjoyed the things from my past. Also I think having kids reignites your love for all things kid-related. For instance I wanted to get my kid a Strawberry Shortcake doll, because that was my favourite and then I ended up buying the whole collection, which now sits in my office. All things retro are really making a comeback for me. All the music I grew up listening to is now back. It’s like my whole childhood is mass market.
There’s not really the same calibre of stickers here in the UK. They’re all the same format, the same shape, it’s almost like they’ve all been made in the same factory – it’s why I have to search around on the internet for them instead. Although I really do well in Japan, I’ve been there a couple of times and have scored loads.
After I’ve collected the rest of the Mello Smello stickers, that’s it, my collection will be done. I’m going to have to get stickers albums made for my kids though as they’re just as into it. If you look for an album now it’s like half the size and the pages are all white. The artwork on the pages of this book alone makes it super cool, I really don’t understand how it’s not made a comeback. It would be a great collaboration to do now with artists and illustrators creating a series of wax papers with stickers to go along with it.
It depends who you’re talking to about my collection as to whether it’s cool. But for me the best thing about it is the culture behind it. The idea of trading and collecting and organising pages of stickers. I’ll be honest most of my friends have moved on from stickers. My friends who remember this time, are like “What the fuck? How do you still have those?” and then they forget about them. I’m more like, “I have to get more stickers now.” But I do think a lot of us are just grown-up kids, I mean I still play with Strawberry Shortcake.
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.