For many, leaving a mark on the world means etching their initials into trees or spray painting on walls. But on a college campus, the most recognizable form of personalized art is stickers. Plastered on laptops, cups, skateboards and cars, stickers have become quite the fad. Here’s what five students at UF had to say about theirs.
While interning in Washington D.C. this past summer, Nora Brown, a UF environmental engineering junior, bought a cup and a couple of stickers along with it. Brown bought her first sticker, the cherry blossom, at a shop in D.C. and was given the rainbow sticker while at D.C. Pride.
Brown also received stickers from the Florida Museum of Natural History and Gainesville Regional Utilities at Gainesville Pride.
“They remind me of being a part of that community and having that experience,” she said.
She received her “Become the Monster” sticker at a live show for her favorite podcast, “My Brother, My Brother And Me”. “These are limited edition, so I like having them on there to show that I did something special," she said.
Brown obtained the “Mental Health Is For Everyone” sticker at the UF Counseling & Wellness Center Mental Health Fair. She said that every other week, she speaks with a therapist and advocates for others to do the same.
“Everybody has to take care of their own bodily health, and in the same way, everyone has to take care of their mental health, even if things are going okay and if you feel ‘normal’,” she said.
With the stickers, Brown says she wants to add spunk to her cup and laptop to express who she is.
“I want to make it look nice, but I want them to show the experiences that I've had and what I value,” she said.
Greg Guilcapi, a UF business administration freshman, uses his laptop stickers to demonstrate his political beliefs.
Guilcapi has a Florida Business Leadership Society sticker, of which he is the new member liaison, as well as four stickers he collected from a Turning Point USA event. Guilcapi said that he supports Turning Point USA’s conservative values and likes the younger demographic.
The “Free The First” sticker represents his promotion of the First Amendment.
“I think [the amendment is] really important,” he said. “In this day and age it's been kind of obstructed and kind of endangered, especially on college campuses.”
Guilcapi and his family are from Ecuador. During his last trip there, he felt that the Venezuelans were impaired by the socialism of their country.
“I see people from Venezuela come to Ecuador in scraps and they're struggling to find jobs and make any money... it just makes you realize that form of economy is terrible.”
Guilcapi says that he feels fortunate to live in the U.S., and his stickers attest to that. “I wouldn't be able to do what I do right now in Ecuador. Nowhere near it. [America is] a land of opportunities and I sincerely believe that,” he said.
Although Guilcapi has been criticized for his beliefs, he has faith in his morals. “I hope they have a positive reaction and they are like ‘wow those are good principles that guy is advertising,’” he said.
Morgan Allison, a UF sustainability junior, covers her helmet, sketchbooks, car and laptop with stickers.
One of Allison’s stickers includes a picture of the Schuyler sisters — Elizabeth Schuyler, Hamilton’s wife, and her two sisters Peggy and Angelica.
“My friend and I are both really into musicals and one of my favorites is Hamilton,” she said. She loves the Schuyler sisters for “being the symbol of forerunners of girls in American history.”
Along with the Hamilton sticker, the Sailor Moon stickers also serve as a feminist message.
“I've always loved the idea of [the show] being a girl-focused thing and girls saving themselves, rather than other people having to do it,” she said.
Allison grew up around the sciences and always found astronomy fascinating. Her NASA sticker acknowledges this love.
“We only have one earth and we need to protect it as best as we can,” she said. “As much as I like outer space, we can't just make excuses and move on to the next planet.”
According to Allison, she buys stickers to support local artists. She purchased the stickers of the Ferris wheel, the fish and the cat at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee from smaller vendors.
“I think maybe the biggest thing is its little pieces of art I can take with me. It’s supporting artists with a lower amount of money like anybody can do it,” she said.
Connor Murray, a UF mechanical engineering junior, is known for having stickers on his laptop and water bottle. When Murray left for college, his sister made him stickers with a label maker that read “be you” and “gator boy.”
“She saw me putting all the stickers on and she was like “I want to give you something,” he said. “That reminds me of her and those are pretty cute.”
Most of his stickers are from surf and rugby brands that he's purchased from including Jetty, Cabrinha and RVCA, all of which are related to the sports he plays.
For example, the “Triton” sticker on his water bottle is a rugby brand. As the captain of the Gator Rugby Team, Murray said that his rugby stickers remind him of his passion.
Beyond rugby, Murray grew up sailing, surfing, and wakeboarding. To him, the beach is more than just a place.
“The water is where I feel the most at home, it's just always what I’ve known and what I love to do,” he said.
Murray said that he also grew up loving America. Because of his respect for the flag, he proudly displays it on his laptop. “I love to wear the flag and show off the USA, the best country ever,” he said.
According to Murray, his stickers have sentimental value. “It makes me feel like it's mine and it's what I feel most represents myself,” he said.
Like Murray, Kianelys Heredia, a UF microbiology junior, has her home flag of Puerto Rico on her laptop. The sticker was created by her friend who lives there.
Heredia lived in Puerto Rico until she attended Santa Fe College. The sticker “certified Guaynabicha,” translates to “city girl” and was also made by her friend. Heredia says that although she identifies as a city girl, Puerto Rico is not particularly urban.
As a child, Heredia rode horses. Now, she lives with her pug, Han Solo, who she grew up with in Puerto Rico and her cat, Lana, who she rescued from an animal shelter. Heredia says that she has the paw print sticker because of her love for animals. She plans to help them by becoming a veterinarian and returning to Puerto Rico to assist with animal shelters.
While she feels drawn to animals because of the love shared between pets and their owners, Heredia said that they are treated differently in Puerto Rico.
“When I was growing up I realized [animals] do have feelings and we should take more care of it more than just leaving it in the backyard,” she said. “I feel like the mentality back there is kind of like that.”
Heredia says that the stickers make her happy. “They are little memories on my laptop,” she said. “I like seeing them.”
For these students, their stickers allow them to convey what they value. From musicals to political parties to memes, the possibilities of stickers are endless. Whether you put it on a water bottle or a laptop, you can stick to your beliefs and express them.
Contact Katie Delk at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @katie_delk.
Katie Delk is a sophomore with a journalism major and an anthropology minor. For the Avenue, she writes about music, culture and the environment. When she is not writing, she is outside with the trees, reading a fantasy book or listening to Beach House.