Collector’s Spotlight: Fruit Stickers

March 21, 2014

Lifestyle

I’m really thrilled to introduce another very unique and special collection to you today, in the latest edition of Collector’s Spotlight. After brooches, bones, action figures, airline spoons and sand, graphic designer and illustrator Clara talks to us about her collection of fruit stickers!

fruit sticker collector clara roethe

Tell us a bit about yourself.

Hello Museum-lovers, my name is Clara Charlotte Roethe. I am freelance graphic designer and illustrator and I live in Hamburg, Germany. I love books, drawing and a good cup of tea. This is my blog: claracharlotte.wordpress.com And this is my website: www.clararoethe.de

What do you collect?

I collect fruit stickers.

Since when have you been collecting ?

I started my collection in 2004 and have been collecting on and off since.

fruit stickers bananas

How did your collection start

In my first semester studying design we had a rather unconventional teacher, Bernd Ikemann (an artist from Cologne) who told us we’d be focussing on trash the first semester, because – even if we did our jobs well – most of the printed matter we design, will end up there. We took a field trip to a waste incineration plant. A disillusioning start to a design career, but I think it did us all good. He urged us to see things we’d usually throw away with new eyes and investigate recycling and up-cycling. I started collecting tea tags and fruit stickers and placed them in a big album meant for stamp collections and arranged them in colourful compositions on the pages. My project’s goal was to show the beauty in everyday things that we usually throw away.

Where do you keep your collection?

I keep my collection in two big albums (the kind used for stamp collections). In a way, fruit stickers are similar to stamps. They need to convey information on a tiny space and still manage to be visually pleasing. The fruitstickers also need to be tailored to the size and colour of the fruit they are to be put on. This has not always been the case, by the way. Originally fruit stickers were made for exotic fruit that came wrapped in soft paper to keep the expensive merchandise from harm. The sticker would inform customers about the type of fruit, since the wrapping was not transparent. Over the years the fruit sticker evolved to tell us about quality and origin instead and sometimes also includes instructions, best-before- date and nutritional value. Recently I also have seen some banana stickers advertise disney movies.

fruit stickers album

Do you use your collection?

When I get some new pieces I sometimes rearrange the pages and sort the stickers according to country of origin, fruit, shape or colour. I unfortunately have less time to play with my collection, now that I am working full-time. Sometimes I leaf through the album to search for inspiration, as I do with my sketchbooks. (I’d love an illustration assignment where I could incorporate my collection.)

What was the most recent addition to your collection?

My sister sends me fruit stickers from England (where she lives) and I enjoy seeing stickers that I have never seen in a German supermarket. The newest lot were a lot of Sainsbury’s stickers with sunflower designs.

How big is your collection and is it still growing?

My collection has nearly filled up the 2nd album and it is still growing. My friends and family know about my collection and bring me stickers from their holidays or interesting one’s they come across anywhere. I like that. When I first started collecting I was amazed by every Chiquita sticker I found, but after a while the stickers from German supermarkets get boring. I love going to the supermarket when I travel. Some of my favourite stickers are melon-stickers. Because the outside of the fruit is coarse and rounded the stickers have to be really big. Some of my best melon stickers I stole from the fruit in a supermarket on a two-day vacation to Milano. But shhh!!

fruit stickers melons

Do any of the pieces in your collection have interesting stories associated with them?

I did Postcrossing for a while in 2005 and I must have mentioned that I collect fruit stickers, because one day, a woman from Finland sent me a big cardboard full with fruit stickers – I was delighted!

What is your favourite piece in your collection?

I think I love the daring banana stickers the best. If you have a chance to name your fruit, why settle for anything less than “supreme banana” or “happy bananas” ? But my favourite is “Fairnando” the eco-friendly-fairtrade-banana.

fruit sticker collection favourites

(all photographs by Clara Charlotte Roethe)

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Thank you so much to Clara for sharing her wonderful collection!  If you want to ask Clara more questions about her collection, you can find him on Twitter under @claracharlotte. And if you have an interesting, unusual or unique collection you’d like featured on Museum Diary, please get in touch!

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