The Art of Million Dollar Stickers - From Collector to Exhibitor, Reed Weily

Words:
Station 16
27/08/2019
Past Events

Reed Weily collects stickers. Last year, he collected over 1.5M USD$ worth.

During his near-decade working in China, Mr. Weily found joy in finding and acquiring vintage stickers. From individual pieces to warehouses full, the stickers began to accrue in volume, quality—quantity.

Image taken by Oly Bernardi

Collecting tends to take the collectibles away from their intended use: In Reed Weily’s case, he had stickers not sticking to anything. Grappling with getting stickers out of their boxes, trunks, and cases, and out on display, he got an idea. Making art out of what stickers were designed to do, getting stuck. He picked a theme to represent the future of his (primarily vintage) sticker collection:

Robots.

Image taken by Oly Bernardi

Now a chef—robot or otherwise—usually won’t shy from stating that the quality of the ingredient can significantly alter the course of a recipe, but in the world of recycled-material and ephemeral art, materials aren’t always the primary concern. We might say that Reed Weily approaches what goes into his art with a healthy mix of particularity and intuition. There is great attention, near reverence, paid to comprising components. The studio is prepared diligently, setting the table by sizes and shapes. Each sticker, sourced from around the globe, is placed carefully and deliberately. As he adheres them, he’s layering and covering a great majority of the treasures he’s collected over the years for the sake of the final image. The final product is a work that exposes the process of its creation as much as the thumbprint of Weily’s artistic intuition.

An intuition which brought him to robots. More particularly, robot heads. Today, there are dozens of these complex sticker-packed figures exploring different themes, color spaces, and decades. With sizes upwards of 68 inches in height, they are imposing pieces with a commanding level of details as one looks closer, a staying theme in Reed’s work. Though they may be imposing, and covering a wide-cast of styles, his skull-like sculptural sticker collages almost certainly evoke a sense of nostalgia for those around to catch the culture the first time around.

Image taken by Oly Bernardi

Chock-full of a 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s pop-culture, technology and ephemera Weily’s work acts as a memory-lane for the outdated and once-common-now-gone. From handheld camcorder advertisement stickers to slogan-stocked advertisement hand-outs, his body of work pulls history aside with us for a moment to let it all sink in.

The million-dollar question remains: Should you start unpeeling your backings and take the collection out of the vault?

Between the futuristic shapes and vintage stickers, Reed Weily gives us one answer, and it results in a distinctively fresh take on adapting the time-honored art of collecting into a collection of art. 

His most recent series of work aptly titled ‘Beautiful Bananas’, an omnibus of his work to date and a perfect opportunity to witness the breadth of his work, is currently on display at Station 16 Gallery in Montreal until September 9th, 2019.

Image taken by Oly Bernardi