Q&A with Sticker Art Founder Bryant Aucoin
When did you start getting interested in the outdoors?
I spent my adolescence in Charleston, South Carolina, and my parents' house was surrounded by saltwater marshes, creeks and thick mossy oaks. So I spent a lot of time exploring around that land getting muddy, climbing trees and would often have ticks that my parents would help pull off me.
Do you live in a tiny house?
I would say so, although we certainly have more space than the typical vanlifer. My wife, Emily, and I live in a 1-bed/1-bath 375-square-foot garage apartment and also share a Subaru Outback. We really focus on not collecting unnecessary things that will simply clutter up our life.
What started the idea for Sticker Art?
Emily and I were adventuring around California one summer and ended up in Tuolumne Meadows, which is a beautiful part of Yosemite that everyone should visit. A couple friends from back home in South Carolina asked me to pick them up some stickers from the trip.
The ones I came across were overpriced, always seemed to have some name brand on them and the illustrations were lacking soul.
Tell us a bit about your company.
The hope behind the illustrations that make up Sticker Art is to connect with the person viewing it, reminding them of some epic adventure they once had and also to encourage them to get outside even more.
There's no name brands or logos on them; just rad art. In a world dominated by screens and social feeds, they act as a fun tangible item that helps to share their stoke.
At first, I was just trying to see if this whole Sticker Art business idea would even work, and stickers were an affordable way to try out the concept. I don't like magnets or patches because they are limited to a certain medium of metal or textiles. Also, stickers aren't expensive so I knew that most people could afford them. I really like the idea of creating something small and monetarily cheap that might make a big impact on someone who connects with it.
Tell us about the vanlife sticker.
Every summer Emily and I live out of our Subaru for a few weeks to a month. While on the road, we befriended another couple who were living out of their van full time with their two dogs filming mountain biking trails all around the west. They were making a living out of their van by traveling to different trailheads, filming and uploading videos at cafes and libraries. It got me inspired to start looking into the lifestyle more and I found that people all around the world were living beautifully out of their tiny rolling homes. I used the most iconic road in our area as the backdrop, U.S. Route 163 in Utah outside of Monument Valley, to represent this lifestyle.
Is there an evolution from the idea of a sticker design to it being made?
I can't draw at all, but I'm pretty good at conveying a concept, so I contract out my sticker concepts to artists. For the most part, I work with Kayla Edgar because we really flow together well. She's pretty much an illustrating ninja, and I'm so grateful for her being part of this. I have worked with five artists so far including her.
The idea for a sticker design usually comes to me during a walk or some sort of meditative motion. Often I write down a few notes in my notepad app when the idea strikes. I let the concept churn in my mind for a few weeks before deciding to actually pull the trigger on it
I'll collect pictures of the scene, usually between 5 and 10 that are similar to the image in my mind. Then, I will write 5-10 correlating paragraphs to create a mood board. Sometimes, I include some really crude stick figure drawing, and thankfully the illustrators are able to pull from this the overall idea.
This whole collaboration process with the artists usually takes a month, and during that time I'm also writing the story that's printed on the removable backing of every sticker. This story is important as it lets people know the feeling and sets the tone for the illustration on the front.
Have you seen your stickers in the wild?
Yup, and it's such a cool feeling. Sometimes I'll even get text pictures from friends who see my stickers in some far flung place hundreds of miles away. My favorite thing is hearing people say something to the effect of "Oh, I have the backpacking sticker on my water bottle! It reminded me of my camping trip last summer in the San Juan Mountains. Solid work on that."
Our stickers are really connecting with people and having an impact.
Do you have a favorite one?
For sure, it's the Tent View Alpine sticker. It's inspired by the Ice Lakes near Silverton, Colorado. It's the most beautiful hike I've ever been on and it's right in our area.
Where can people find you in the outdoors?
During this time of year, we go to Indian Creek, Utah, almost every other weekend to rock climb and sleep under the stars since it's only two hours away. Once it starts to warm up, we will go wherever we can based on how much time we have and how much money we want to spend on gas.
Any future outdoor adventures plans?
Emily and I are planning on spending two weeks traveling the northwest, climbing in Tuolumne Meadows, visiting the redwood forest for the first time and climbing our little hearts out.