How a Local Art Teacher Became an Accidental Sticker Artist

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Chris Frye sticker art. // Courtesy of Chris Frye

By day, Chris Frye is a lowly middle school art teacher. By night, he’s an eclectic sticker artist with a rampant penchant for counterfeit cartoon characters. If there’s a blank canvas and adhesive involved, it’s in. He will immediately start doodling, drawing or designing with his signature hyper-collar.or flair.

Frye says he was looking for another artistic outlet, other than the typical large-scale pop art he creates. Something meaningful but tinged with nostalgia.

He came across sticker art while browsing social media and found a whole global network sharing their work ready to join. Collaboration between sticker artists is essential. “I’m going to create something, send it to another artist who will log in and add to it,” says Frye. “I add a character, and another artist adds a character, and so on – a tag train, if you will.”

Sticker art looks like a compartmentalized mix of graffiti and street art, and it gave Frye a chance to branch out. “We’re all kind of hobbyists in this field — and with sticker art, you can be an artist on any level,” he says. “I like to change and evolve, try new things, do different fashions. You don’t have to do the same thing for the rest of your life.

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Chris Frie. // Courtesy of Chris Frye

Originally, Frye just wanted to expand his social media presence, but then he started garnering a mini following.

“I just wanted to get my numbers and finally get verified, but along the way I started building my platform,” he says. “The online community is bigger than me – you can find your niche. It has given me a renewed sense of myself to reintroduce my business to the world – a local kid who could go global.

Now he is busy organizing packages of his pop art and stickers and sending them to his new fans.

“From Sweden to Santa Fe, and from Germany to Japan, I’ll send stickers to anyone who asks,” Frye says. “This genre has a diverse culture and includes all genders, all races, all ages. And I’ll trade with anyone. I found work at a hot dog truck in Japan and at a thrift store in South Shore, Massachusetts.

Because everything is a lot on a smaller scale, Frye says it’s infinitely easier to just send things through the mail. “I could do a mural or a postcard and it’s all in one hand, but you can’t ship a mural to FedEx,” he says. “Plus, I have a growing collection of street art and stickers from around the world. It’s cool to be both a collector and a creator in this culture.

Frye has also set her sights on international sticker festivals. “They’ve become a thing – people from all over the world will be sending in their work,” he says. “That’s enough to fill several entire walls. There really should be a sticker fest here in Kansas City. I mean, if Madrid can have one, why can’t we?

If the KU grad sticker illustration gives off a certain 70s-80s vibe, well, that’s by design. “Things that caught my eye when I was 10-11 still grab me today. I’m a sucker for the nostalgia factor and what it evokes in me,” he says. “Skateboards, Happy Meals, action figures with the Kung Fu Grip, Matchbox cars – it’s all good,” he says.

With school starting next week, Frye will soon be back to influence young artistic minds. But, in his spare time, you can bet he’s busy cropping away at a nearby doodle book. “I always have pencils on me, you never know when you’ll need to color something,” he says. ” What can I say ? I like to color things. And I use lots of colors. There is satisfaction in the process.

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