Sticky Stuff

Whether on or off the reel, sticky tape has long proved an endless source of creative inspiration. In his latest Obsessions piece, Neal Whittington shares his favourite examples of tape-inspired art and design.  

Large 9812a617 1ee0 4226 b0eb 1b3031d5e334

Tammi Campbell

Sticky tape is one of the youngest stationery inventions nestled amongst your desk drawer (USB sticks definitely do not count). It originates from the US, invented around 85 years ago by 3M, the people most commonly associated with Post It notes. Richard Drew’s idea was born out of the Great Depression, at a time when people had less money and sought to fix things themselves, sticky tape allowed them to do this. A few years later it was used in the War to seal windows and minimise bomb damage. Nowadays it has more positive associations – how else would we seal wrapped gifts or get cat hair off our ponchos?

With its endless colours and perfectly uniform finish, it acts as a great medium for artists, both on and off the reel. Here is a round up of some of our favourites.

Omar Sosa is one of the founders of Apartamento magazine and in each issue he creates a series of still life shots made from singular materials or products. Ice, bricks, clay and pans have all had a look in. These tape stacks are a perfect display of the colours and patterns available to us all, Omar has turned ordinary reels into little celebratory sculptures.

Large 8a07861a c5f9 4535 b4d6 29d0befa7939

Large 9300590a 03b9 4732 ad20 89f3f515cb62

Large daf76b42 ab6d 448c 8d0e 10b6edcda753

Large e7bb01d4 df83 4258 b7c3 18552b9f5d3e

One of our favourite uses of tape in art comes from Kees Goudzwaard. He layers oil paint to create lovely tape-like abstract pieces, which draw parallels to a designer's cutting mat or studio wall, layered with ideas and remnants of them.

Large ded4df3d e06e 4b51 b006 d14369ca1dfb

Large 1267077a c43d 4341 87b6 48e9a00b8d35

Large 5decbb52 3bb8 4e36 95d8 ff5f97c2a73b

Large 1bef10c3 e68c 4233 92b8 7ce46124d679

Large 84a4da52 1f82 4428 b979 9c511b66e7e5

Utilising similar techniques is Spencer Finch. He, however, creates figurative work using magic tape layered to form different levels of opacity… and clouds. If there is one thing we have learned it is that clouds made from tape can never be wrong.

Large c1f83c06 998f 42e4 952f 729c2026a6da

Large 49ac0c65 ab6a 4a3f 82d3 fe1062841ceb

Large 0579f94e cdb8 4450 92ae c7b41414520a

Back to trompe l’oeil with the tape boxes made by Igor Eskinja. They might look simple but the boxes are created over two to three planes, completed by the eye from a particular vantage point.

Large 66921bbb 8812 40d6 9b07 3debbbbd18fa

Large 6dd2e563 7077 4fd5 8beb 224a808a5747

Large 2b0d5a7b eb19 4df4 9636 f32459e0b47d

Tape acts as a tool, medium & construction line in Tammi Campbell's Work in progress series. Patterns and pie charts are framed by thick masking tape, complimentary in its custard yellow to the grey paint she often uses.

Large e588e8aa 7ffe 4e62 b3b0 0a0156d20bbb

Large a3b9627c 3fc4 46d0 a294 276758f98787

Large f7952326 37dc 48e8 9e2b c58ff251cce6

Large 6d926263 6f55 41af a519 36e71e77be2b

Finally this tape installation by Martin Creed can be viewed forever at Hauser & Wirth in New York. The entire entrance has been adorned with all manner of tapes and patterns. f you decide to go down to Leyland and try it yourself at home, remember to stock up on sanity and patience first.

Large 638d51b1 fada 488e 954b e21a765839da

See more of Neal's stationery-based goodness at