Big Issue

In 2013, Stik released a collection of posters in the Big Issue in aid of its sellers. They show a stickman, arms dangling, looking forlornly down to the right. Having been homeless himself in 2011, this experience inspired Stik’s stickman motif, reflecting the homeless community's simultaneous visibility and invisibility in society.

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Meaning & Analysis

Released as a collection of posters, Stik’s ambitious 2013 project The Big Issue, aimed to transform London’s Big Issue sellers into art dealers. The 75,000 prints could only be found in editions of the magazine, released on March 11th 2013. The magazine, bought by vendors for £1.25 per copy and sold for £2.50, was founded as an initiative to provide opportunities for the homeless community.

Describing the figure in the print as ‘just standing, looking’, Stik describes restarting work on the print due to dissatisfaction with a lack of ‘balance’ in his original composition. The print depicts a stickman standing squarely, arms dangling, looking forlornly down to the right. The project was funded by an advertising company that failed to gain Stik’s permission before using his work in a campaign. Together with removing the advert, they agreed to fund the poster project.

Stik intended to give back to the homeless community with this series of posters. The artist was himself homeless in 2011 and has stated that his stick men were influenced by this turbulent experience, reflecting the status of the homeless in their presence in the streets yet invisibility in society: 'Being homeless is one of the most debilitating things that can happen to an individual. All the support systems rely on you having a home. My stick figures don’t have mouths, they are silent, but people see them. Most homeless people are invisible as well as silent. The Big Issue gives them a voice and I hope this collaboration reminds people that the people selling The Big Issue are trying really hard to help themselves and to get out there and speak to them.'

10 Facts About Stik's The Big Issue

The Big Issue (red) by Stik

The Big Issue (red) © Stik, 2013

1. The prints were initially sold in The Big Issue magazine.

The Big Issue was founded in 1991. Since then, the publication has employed thousands of homeless vendors, who earn their income by selling issues of the magazine to the public. Stik's collaboration with The Big Issue in 2013 resulted in a series of posters being folded into the magazines, which could be purchased from these vendors.

Rough Sleeper by Stik

Rough Sleeper © Stik, 2009.

2. Stik himself was homeless in 2011.

Stik became homeless in 2011, and lived in a St Mungo's hostel as he was preparing for his first gallery exhibition. Nowadays, Stik continues to use his art to campaign for awareness around homelessness, and raise funds for charities like St Mungo's and The Big Issue Foundation.

The Big Issue (blue) by Stik

The Big Issue (blue) © Stik, 2013

3. The project was funded by a telecommunications company.

When Stik started this collaboration with The Big Issue, the magazine informed him that it would cost around £10,000 to print his lithographs and insert them into the magazine. The astronomical price put a definitive end to Stik's dream, until a year later. A telecommunications company used one of Stik's images without his permission, and Stik responded with a strongly worded letter. When the company offered him a £10,000 settlement, he told them to give the money to The Big Issue Foundation, which eventually funded the series.

Plaque (heritage blue) by Stik

Plaque (heritage blue) © Stik, 2011