Bumper Sticker History and Inspiration

Dec 14th 2023

Bumper Sticker History and Inspiration

One of the most entertaining parts of a road trip is pointing out the best bumper stickers along the way. They’re the ultimate form of self-expression. The prime way to show off your personality is by covering your car in a little piece of you. They can be in support of a particular political candidate, honoring a cause, showing school spirit, or just wanting a laugh, regardless, you’re still spreading a message. We like to say that they are like buttons but for your car!

Forest P. Gill, a screen printer from Kansas City, is credited with inventing the bumper sticker in 1941. After developments made with vinyl and fluorescent inks during WWII, these inventions came home and found other day-to-day uses, like stickers, which then quickly became used as a promotional device.

The first political campaign to feature bumper stickers was the 1952 election between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson II, this election was where the classic slogan, “I Like Ike”, originated! This expression was originated by Manny Ress, the child of a famous button manufacturer. Since bumper stickers were typically displayed on moving vehicles, concise designs like this one were incredibly effective.

As much as bumper stickers have grown in popularity, the love for them has primarily stayed as an American thing. The car you drive is extremely representative of the driver, so adding stickers to the back windshield or the bumper are just extensions of who is behind the wheel.

Whether they be political elections or social movements or current pop culture trends. Bumper stickers have always been linked with timely events. It’s pretty easy to identify the time and place when scouring eBay for vintage bumper stickers or seeing them on the road. They capture the daily threads that eventually make up history. Each decade has their own iconic bumper stickers.

The stickers can also make a statement about places you’ve been, they’re a great souvenir especially if the trip is taken with your car. Bumper stickers can also act as a way of documenting milestones. Many people show off ones that say 13.1 or 26.2 which represent a half or full marathon.

They’re the ultimate display of allegiance for causes and organizations, and are great gifts to give to donors or supporters!. Bumper stickers can be a great tie to home when you may be far away, like one featuring your favorite radio station. You can still carry it with you even when you may not be in reach anymore.

The range of bumper stickers is honestly quite wild, they can be anywhere from being an incredibly silly niche joke to providing commentary on a war. Regardless, they’re a way to express yourself

Our awesome in-house Design Studio gave a stab at making some bumper stickers inspired by some of these classic trends as well as some current ones. Curious how to make your own custom bumper stickers? Look no further, we’d be happy to help continue this tradition! 

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