Stickymonger: The Black Vinyl Master

Stickymonger is a New York based artist who creates larger than life installations using black vinyl “stickers” and breathes life into them  with meticulous precision. Sticky, as she is called by friends, was directly influenced by her childhood experience as she grew up in Korea where her family owned a gas station.  The petroleum caught her attention and you can see her passion for the oil within every piece she creates. I love seeing her create her installations as they take many hours and are incredibly precise. I was lucky to attend a studio tour with her in the World Trade Center and was also present watching her at AFA Gallery where she took over an entire wall within the gallery and made it her own.

Sticky, it was lovely meeting you a few months ago at the group show at AFA NYC . I had so much fun watching you install your pieces and really admired your attention to detail while putting up the rather large installment onto the gallery’s wall. I especially enjoyed watching the people outside in amazement as the vinyl pieces came to life (after many hours of hard work).

Now I understand where all of the fluid black vinyl cutouts are based from…growing up near your parent’s gas station in Korea! Does that imply that your work represents oil?

Really, the imagery in my work can represent anything that’s sticky, glossy and CREEPY-CUTE.

I love the grandeur of your installations. Do you often take over entire spaces with female subjects only? What do the woman represent to you?

I often get asked why I paint only girls. I do draw creatures and monsters as well but yes, usually my main focal characters are female. My female figures aren’t an attempt at some kind of statement. I draw female figures because I am one of them. They are familiar to me. They are fun to draw and always give me endless inspiration. In the end, I prefer to be regarded as an unique individual artist and not categorized as a ‘female‘ artist.


Your style is so unique. When did you find your voice within the art community?

I would say I found my voice when I had my first public solo show at the Bunny Cutlet gallery in Brooklyn, New York in 2014. I converted the whole gallery from floor to the ceiling into my visionary world with my black vinyl stickers. Since then, people started to call me the ‘sticker artist’. I loved the black fluid power of my vinyl installation. After time, I started to feel the need for more impact and variety in my work and allowed myself to try something new. Soon, I had an opportunity to exhibit in the Tiny Trifecta show at Cotton Candy Machine in 2015. That’s when I started acrylic painting and began to expand my visual language further into traditional mediums. My decision to juxtapose the acrylic paintings with the vinyl installation in my solo show at Everyday Mooonday gallery, Korea in 2016 was extremely satisfying. I am so excited about this combination of paintings and installation. It feels as though this combination has completed my visual world. Especially when I can take my vinyl installation from a storyless narrative and, by including my paintings into the install as certain “episodes” that belong to the larger image, I can engage my viewers in a different way.  This is perfect for me.  

What can you tell me that you have never told another journalist about your art?

Well, I can tell you two things. First, my dot patterns actually represents ‘holes’. It is connected to the sense of being  ‘see through’. A hole is indeed scary but at the same time strongly seduces me to look beyond it with crazy curiosity and anxiety. Just by imagining what’s beyond, tones of stories might pop up. This is why my paintings are mostly tondos. The tondos themselves are a kind of hole or portal for the audience to peep through and connect to each world contained in them.

Second, many of my artworks are inspired by a specific dream that I had more than 10 years ago. I dreamed a huuuuuge glass fish tank as big as a 4-story building and it was packed with large and small broken girl androids.  Some were same faced in uniform and others were in weird costumes or naked. All of them broken. The tank was hidden by a huuuuuge red velvet curtain that I opened by pulling a golden/yellow rope. All of sudden, the broken android girls started to whisper, “It smells of human”.  Then, they turned to find me and they all scratched at the glass to break it and chase me. I was terrified and suddenly woke up from the dream. It was sooo intense. Intense enough to remember vividly even now. When I got invited to join the WTC project for the window installation, I thought, “Was that dream a foreshadowing of this massive room of glass?!”

Are there any new mediums you’d like to explore? Are there any you are intimidated by?

As my background is in graphic design, I am always in hunger to learn and work in any traditional mediums. This always pushes me to try new mediums without fear (except for the cost! Haha). I have a zeal to learn making my own paint by mixing pigments, nihonga, spray and stencil! However, I want to explore more of my current medium, acrylic paint first. It was so hard to control back in 2015 when I first tried to work with it seriously and it still remains a challenge for me. I have been developing my acrylic skills by trying things randomly, little of this and a little of that. Then, when I find what I like, I keep using that formula. I also want to try many different type of GACs and mediums with my acrylics and see where that takes me.

What is next for you?

Bigger paintings, bigger installations!


In an exploration of the dichotomies present in our everyday lives, Cirque Noir features a series of paintings and sculptures that challenge our perception of good and bad, beautiful and ugly, real and superficial. Artists Kelly Denato, Kathie Olivas, and Stickymonger, each working in diverse media, address these dichotomies through figurative work that is at first blush visually engaging and beautiful, and which, under closer examination reveals its complex symbolism.

Responding to the anxiety provoked by the manner in which each of us is observed, Stickymonger’s work is representative of the gaze. Utilizing eyes throughout her work and as primary subject matter, She embraces that which both fascinates and frightens her.  By incorporating these eyes into her work the Artist strips them of their power, while simultaneously encouraging them to look back at the viewer that views them creating a participatory experience. – From Cirque Noir , AFA gallery New York.


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