Bumper Sticker Madness

Have you ever been driving down the highway and seen a car that was completely covered with bumper stickers and wondered where those actually came from?

It all started in the 1930s with a guy named Forest P. Gill. Gill worked for a company called Crawford Manufacturing Company in Kansas City, Missouri. When the company went out of business in 1934, Gill moved his own business to the basement of his house after receiving printing equipment from his previous employer.

Bumper Sticker History | Bates Nissan | Killeen, TXDuring the depression, Gill was an independent screen printer trying to make ends meets by printing canvas ads for cars.

During WWII business boomed for canvas printing. Gill was being subcontracted by other canvas companies to help with printing gun and truck covers for the military. While doing this, he gained experience with many different materials.

In 1944 he started making bumper signs. These were cardboard pieces tied to car bumper with wire. Unfortunately they didn’t last very long because the materials weren’t weather proof. But in 1946, Switzer Brothers Inc. started creating bright inks which they called DayGlo. These inks were very eye catching to advertising companies for the reason of the colors. Gill used these inks and a newly designed self sticking paper to create the first bumper sticker.

As of lately, bumper stickers are becoming less popular and window decals are on the rise. Paul Rosa, owner of Idiot Ink in New York, believes this is due to people’s fears of having their cars vandalized for their thoughts, but it could also be because of the price of cars being so high.

However, Rosa doesn’t believe car owners are going to stop sharing anytime soon due to the popularity of window decals, magnetic stickers and custom license plates.

“People are still expressing themselves, just in different ways,” he says.

Trivia about Bumper Stickers:

  • In other countries a bumper sticker is attached to a car that travels from one country to another
  • A bumper sticker or window decal can be found on one in three cars in the US
  • In 2008, a Colorado State University study found the more bumper stickers a person has on their car, the more prone they are to having road rage