You Should Know… James Sullivan

Photo by James Sullivan

While James Sullivan is not afraid to speak his mind, he prefers to print and distribute stickers that express his Judaism and political views. The 39-year-old Greenbelt resident rediscovered his love of stickers during the pandemic.

When did you get into stickers?
I did go to art school but that has nothing to do with my love for stickers. All kids love stickers and I just never grew out of it. I started making stickers when I was in college. It was a little harder then because the internet wasn’t as prolific. I didn’t do it for a long time, but started doing it again recently.

What was your original motivation?
I just felt like it would be fun to put my opinion everywhere. My first stickers were just text.

My favorite one that I made a lot of said “Someday drag queens will rule the world,” because I was really into going to drag shows when I was in college. I felt like that was an important sentiment that I wanted to get out into the world. In college, my stickers were silly. Now my stickers are more serious and political. I also still make some silly ones. My next batch is going to be of a cat eating spaghetti.

How do you make them?
The stickers I’ve made recently are not original designs. They are designs that I’ve seen in different places on the internet. Things that are floating around that I find that I really just like.

Most of my stickers so far have been very political and very Jewish. My Jewish identity and my political identity are very important to me and I like to be able to broadcast that, so I decided to make stickers and see who else was interested in them. Because they’re not my original designs, I’m not selling them. I’m basically giving them up.

Do you have plans to start designing your own stickers?
I would like to. Even though I went to school for photography and graphic design, I actually haven’t used Photoshop in years, which is why I haven’t made my own.

Who’s your audience?
My audience is mostly Jews and lefty people with leftist politics. Most of the people I send stickers to are on the younger age, 30s and under, although it’s not restricted to that. I tend to post in Jewish groups like DC Jew Crew, a Facebook group. I did a sticker recently that wasn’t specifically Jewish; it was an anti-Nazi sticker. People went nuts for that sticker. It was one of the ones I had to reprint.

What is one thing you’ve enjoyed about the process?
Part of the reason I’ve done it is I really enjoy the connection I make with people. It’s really fun and it gives me a lot of dopamine when I get a million messages from people like, “Oh my God, your sticker’s awesome. I really want it!” I’ve actually made friends with some people who I have conversations with. It’s been something that’s been really helpful since quarantine, since I’m not seeing a lot of people otherwise.

Is there anything people take away from your sticker making?
One of the reasons I make stickers is because I feel like we live in a world today where hate and anti-Semitism have really grown and become almost OK. I think it’s important for people who are Jewish and have more progressive politics to make our stand known, and that we’re here and we’re not going to back down. Putting a sticker on your car or on your laptop or something that proclaims your Jewish identity and your politics really proves to others that you’re a safe person and proves to any haters that you’re not going to back down.

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