The pandemic has changed a lot about the way I live my life, and it has definitely changed my relationship to art. During the months when galleries and museums were closed, I turned to the galleries of the streets for inspiration, and spent hours each week walking and documenting what I saw. I discovered that many street artists were inspired by the experience of isolation due to Covid, and the increasingly dystopian nature of society imposed by the previous administration, to step-up the surreal nature of their creations. One new artist I kept seeing all over the city, whose work moved me immediately, was called Eye Sticker. Of course, the Eye is Pink.
Eye Sticker (also known as EYE) is an anonymous, gender-unspecified persona whose work often centers on a familiar, pop-culture image distinguished by the inclusion of a bright Pink Eye with an x-shaped iris at its center. The first work I saw by Eye Sticker was a paste up on St. Mark’s Place in the East Village, where I live. The piece depicted Dump as a Troll Doll, with a shock of pink hair and beady pink eyes that looked like those drawn by cartoonists to indicate that a person or animal is deceased. Appropriate, I thought.
Turns out that Eye, like so many of us sane people, is no fan of Dump, so we also had that in common. After collecting a dozen or so photos of works by Eye Sticker, I reached out via Instagram (@eye.sticker), expressing a desire to feature their art on this blog. Eye agreed to answer a few questions about their fresh and provocative art.
“I’ve been making art since I can remember,” Eye told me, confessing that they enjoy the mediums of oil painting, sculpting, and design, but pencil drawing is a favorite. “I love doing hyper-realistic drawings, and when it comes to colors, I like it abstract.” The Eye Sticker persona was born in the end of August, 2020, though it had been a dream for a long time. “[Last summer] I finally had the time and mental space to put myself out there, in the streets. Before that, I was creating under my own name.” As is the case with many street artists, Eye prefers to keep their identity private.
Eye Sticker often appropriates characters from Sesame Street, an iconic pop culture franchise associated with a potentially bottomless well of meaning. Eye says that choosing to work with these characters is about making cute things look creepy, and creepy things look cute. “Eye Sticker is the contrast in between the two associations. Use of the color pink is one of my tools, since the pink is identified with cuteness, but the visual is not necessarily as cute.”
“When I create abstract figures, they are my bridge between the past and the future. I use ’80s an ’90s pop culture toys and themes as a way to connect with my own (and the viewer’s) memory, creating a sense of nostalgia. When we look back at these characters from today’s point of view, after all these years they don’t look as innocent now as they did when we were young — and that’s where I give then a creepy Eye Sticker twist.
Asked if they have a favorite piece, Eye cited the image above. “I love the Banana Tongue, which was a spontaneous creation, and fun to make. I also really love the White Rabbit — which has many layers of personal meaning for me from my childhood — which I also gave a Salvador Dali twist.”
“The Eye is an expression,” the artist concludes, “and my form of interaction with the viewer. When you look at the eye, it looks back at you.” Ultimately, the message of Eye Sticker is that the world is not all black and white. “There’s also Pink!”
Follow Eye Sticker on Instagram @eye.sticker