Stickers and rebellion in Gross magazine
Publishing an independent magazine can often look like an act of rebellion – notoriously uncommercial, they tend to be made by people who are driven by an all-consuming love for their subject, rather than some idea of rational return on investment. But sometimes a magazine comes along that takes that rebellious spirit and pushes it even further than the rest, embracing the difficulty and expense of independent publishing and kicking it up to the next level.
Gross is one of those magazines – published in Los Angeles and dedicated to exploring creative culture, it’s full of contemporary American artists sharing their work and speaking about their ideas and motivations. But while most other magazines would stop there, Gross also adds in the hidden delight of stickers placed through the issue.
Some of them stand out clearly, like the first sticker in the issue, placed across the magazine’s logo and literally pointed out with a handy “Peel off this sticker” instruction.
Others are much harder to see, and it will take most readers a couple of runs through the magazine to pick up on all of them. It was only on my second flick through that I noticed this creation by Nicole McLaughlin.
Sometimes the stickers interact with the page’s layout, creating little Easter eggs of content like painter Mr StarCity’s dog, and the essential fact he’s apparently called Grandpa.
In some places removing the sticker might reveal an alternative artwork, like this pair of pieces by Shepard Fairey.
In others readers will find that the sticker is placed over another version of the same artwork.
And sometimes there’s nothing at all.
There’s just something gloriously ridiculous about going to this sort of trouble to add another element to the magazine. For each sticker, the page has to be printed with a gloss varnish and the sticker has to be placed, presumably by hand, in what must be a fiddly and expensive process, all so the reader can enjoy this extra little game of hunting them out. (Don’t worry, there are lots more of them in the issue – I’ve only shown a few here.)
This is the fourth issue of Gross and I’ve loved picking my way through every one so far. I’m afraid we’re sold out of our back issues, but I hope you’ll have chance to pick up a copy of this one so you can play the game for yourself. Check our shop page while stocks last!