Spray Can Confessions: Mission Bunbun

by - 3:00 PM

Growing up I noticed stickers everywhere in my hometown. I never paid much attention to them, as they're usually Feyenoord stickers, weird things to promote and support the local major league football club. Only when I did a street art tour in Utrecht I learned that stickers are part of street art. An underestimated part of street art if you ask me. I'd never done anything with this art form, never looked at stickers, nothing. Then, at the end of the tour in Utrecht, I got four Bunbun stickers to spread in my own city. There were only two rules I had to obey in doing so:
1) Don't put them on private property
2) ...
I forgot the second rule...
With those two rules not so firmly in mind I went home, thinking of places to leave my stickers. I planned, planned, planned... and so Mission Bunbun started.

Bunbun was looking up at me from two stickers as I made plans on the trainride home. His girlfriend was on the third and tried to hold her skirt down Marilyn Monroe style on the fourth. They're created by a street artist from Utrecht, who's now spread his stickers all over the place. They're funny, quite cute, but more than often than not they're dirty and rude - and I love it. There are even two Bunbun books with short comics. If dark and dirty humor is your thing, you should check them out. I know I'm going to when my next paycheck comes in.
While I was looking at these stickers I thought long and hard about the best places to put them up. Sadly my hometown isn't big on street art, so there aren't many good places to showcase street art stickers. In fact I could only think of one: the garbage can at the bus station. It's the only place in town covered in stickers. Mostly stickers from football clubs, but still.
As I got off the train and on the bus my stomach started doing backflips. I'd never illegally stuck stickers on anything. And now I was going to do just that in one of the busiest places in town, right across from the police station.
I peeled the paper off the back of the first sticker right as the bus pulled into the station. I was all set and ready. It was quiet at the bus station, as I'd hoped but not expected. The bus stopped. I got off. I hid the sticker in my hand. Reached out for the garbage can - and noticed two older ladies staring at me.
I pulled my phone out and pretended I was texting until they'd go away or at least stop staring. They did neither. Within two minutes I'd lost my patience. I smashed the sticker onto the garbage can and ran away. My first street art sticker mission was a complete success so far. Though I needed to work on my exit.

The next day I looked at my stickers again. One down, three to go. I put two stickers aside for Rotterdam. Then I turned one around and wrote Düsseldorf in big swirly letters on the back. It was April and I'd somehow convinced my college to let my class organize a field trip to Düsseldorf in Germany. The idea of representing a Dutch artist abroad got me all hyped up.
First I had to complete the part of Mission Bunbun that took part in Rotterdam though. I wanted these stickers to be in places where other artists had put up theirs, so it'd be like a miniature street art gallery. Not that I knew of any place like that, so I started roaming the streets of Rotterdam before going to college on the by then rare occasions that I did go. One day, after revisiting the housing block that the Bushwick Collective had taken over, I took the Hoogstraat because I was pretty much lost and could see the Martkhal in the distance from that street. That's where I found loads and loads of stickers by street artists I'd discovered online. I knew right then and there I was going to leave my Bunbun stickers here one day. 'One day', because I was way too chicken to do it immediately. With my last epic exit fresh in mind I went back to the drawing board and carefully planned part two of Mission Bunbun.

As my life started to fall apart in the second half of April, I took the two stickers I'd picked for Rotterdam out of my sticker safe. It was time. I was ready.
I took the subway to Oostplein, first sticker already in hand. It took me a minute to find the Hoogstraat again. I have the sense of direction of a dead carrier pigeon. No lie. When I did find the street I soon ran into an old mail box completely covered in stickers. It was perfect, but I still had that one rule in mind. No private property. I wasn't sure if this counted as private property. The mail box was attached to some kind of store front, but looked like it hadn't been used in ages. I looked around once, twice, completely freaked out when I saw a guy walking on the other side of the street, then slapped the sticker onto the mail box and calmly walked away. Not a perfect execution, but far better than the attempt at the bus station.

Near the end of the street I came across a drainpipe that was just screaming my and Bunbun's name. There was exactly enough space for the round sticker in the pocket of my jeans. I told myself not to look suspicious whole putting it up, which probably instantly made me look suspicious. But I calmly stuck the sticker on the drainpipe and moved on. I had more or less mastered the art of sticker slappin'.

A few weeks passed and I was ready to bring my skills into practice. But then, after many previous disappointments, college decided to forbid my group of German students to visit Germany. At this point I was so frustrated with Hogeschool Rotterdam that I did something petty. I reached into my backpack, got the last Bunbun sticker out and smacked it right in the middle of a clock in a classroom when our teacher wasn't there. I'd effectively broken the only rule I'd remembered, but it felt good. My classmates laughed, I was finally a bit less sad and most important of all: Mission Bunbun had been completed!

What started out as a fun little thing during a street art tour turned into a six week project. And that six week project brought me deeper and deeper into the sticker side of the street art world. May saw my first attempts at a design, late June the first stickers and July and August were about spreading them across the globe. But that's a story for another time. A story that never would've started if it hadn't been for Bunbun.

x Envy

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12 Fellow Ramblers

  1. I love all your brave street art expeditions! It's so cool :)

    1. Thank you! I've got another one coming up in January.

  2. This was so interesting. I love people who are creative and try to express art in the most unique ways. Keep it up .

    1. The uniqueness is what I like most about this art form ^-^

  3. Your street art adventures are so great to read! I used to be a part of many band street teams as a teen and sticker dropping was my favourite thing to do 💖

    1. That's so cool! Dropping stickers is so much fun. I'm kind of addicted to it now 😅

  4. What a lovely read. please let me know when the sequel comes online (:

    (ah and the 2nd rule is Dont overlap the design of other street art stickers (dont care about the commercial ones!))

    Loving the Clock sticker!

    1. Oh man, that second rule wouldn't even have been that hard to remember, hahaha. Can't believe I managed to forget that.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed this post! The sequel will go up some time in January.

  5. Bunbun is cute lol. Also, yes for slapping the last sticker on a school clock lol.

  6. I didn't know stickers were a form of street art (although I've admired plenty during my times through the city). Loved the way you described your journey and applause for your last action. I think we all can agree that school clock looks 200% better with it.. ;)



    1. Stickers are so overlooked as a form of street art. It's usually a side-thing for people who use spray cans. And the school really had it coming you know, hahaha.


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