Welcome to Stick No Bills®
A warm welcome from my husband Philip James Baber and I, to the online sales platform for Stick No Bills®, the 21st Century’s number one destination for the design and distribution of the finest travel poster art.
Founded in 2011, Stick No Bills® is your original and definitive source for authentic, originally hand-sketched and / or hand-painted, exclusively licensed and embossed travel posters and fine art prints thereof.
Our absolute passion is to help you fill your walls with spectacular poster art, fundraising for vital humanitarian and conservation projects and championing the true owners of copyright as we go.
We learn so much about the evolution of art, fashion and style from our clients and we are continually refining our ability to support your interior design and decorative art objectives in accordance.
This website over-arches our Asia-region flagship gallery which is located on the tropical southern coast of Sri Lanka in the UNESCO world heritage city of Galle Fort; our Iberia-region flagship gallery located in the historic centre of Palma De Mallorca, capital of the Islas Baleares and a further forty reseller outlets we supply at our luxury hotel, gallery and retail sector clients’ establishments.
With exclusive usage rights on the 159 proven best seller artworks in our current 'live' collection, more designs, antique posters, production techniques, product variants and destinations being revealed from behind the scenes each year and a first class framing and shipping service fully integrated into our offering, we are on a mission to spearhead a renaissance in travel poster art.
In so doing, our core objective is to give you visual respite from the digital age by transporting you, time-machine-style, back to the art-deco, mid-century modern and 1980s’ golden eras of travel; to those safe, harmonious, pollution-free and uncrowded places that existed in the analogue era, prior to the advent of mass tourism and so many other challenges that have come to beset and frustrate the world in recent decades.
2020 and 2021 have been years of enormous turmoil and change. There has been no running or hiding from it. Perhaps one of the most poignant ironies of the global pandemic has been that for those of us able to access and in some cases live in the open countryside, the mountains or the wild coastlines, the lockdown gave us a protracted glimpse of how things used to be, of mother nature’s indomitable desire to regenerate and therefore of how things can become again if we set our hearts and minds on regeneration and re-wilding the terrains we have damaged.
In that sense we as designers have come to fully appreciate for the first time how travel posters can, in terms of the emotions they have the potential to stir, be tantamount to hope. And, because hope is essential for powering us through uncertain times, we feel more inspired to generate new content than ever these days.
We are often asked what brought us to Galle and latterly to Palma and how did we set about designing travel posters in the first place.
When the war ended in Sri Lanka in 2009 my husband; an advertising photographer and tsunami survivor and I, a former insurgency / security risk analyst, wanted to 'be the change we wanted to see in the world' by doing something good for the local communities we had invested in and good for us; something original and uplifting that would raise positive awareness about the rich heritage and stunning natural beauty of a select few of the world’s most beautiful yet fragile places.
We saw that the place where we started out: Sri Lanka, a palm-fringed isle of twenty-one million people, second only to Hawaii in its biodiversity, had been for too long associated in most overseas peoples' minds with terrorism, the tsunami and human rights issues. We wanted to cast light on the other side of the story on the Indian Ocean's island of extremes.
What better way to tap into the aspirations, the heritage and the journey of a much-loved place, then through a celebration of its poster art movement? So there began the making of Stick No Bills®.
Since 2011, our original Asia flagship gallery has been spread out through every main room of an old Dutch colonial merchant's townhouse situated close to the intersection of Pedlars and Church Street which has now become the 'golden mile' for cultural tourism in Sri Lanka; a historic and peaceful road lined with boutiques, jewellery stores, cafés and high-end hotels that intersects Galle Fort, the incredible UNESCO World Heritage City located on Sri Lanka's tropical southwestern coast.
From inception we specialised in designing posters in an art deco style with a Scandinavian twist on the one hand (we love Scandinavian design) and, on the other, authenticating, raising the profile of and, where true copyright permits, digitally remastering antique tea and travel posters dating from the late 1800s through until the 1980s. The resultant Ceylon / Sri Lanka and Iberia (thus far Mallorca & Ibiza / Islas Baleares) collections we exhibit are the most extensive in the world and we are inaugurating Barcelona and Sweden-centric collections later this year.
With huge gratitude for the dedication of our second-to-none staff, the talent of our seven illustrators and our map maker, the collaboration of our suppliers, partners, clients and re-sellers and the enthusiasm of our myriad customers, high quality licensed prints of our images can now be found on the walls of literally hundreds of thousands of homes, hotels, restaurants, cafes and offices on all continents.
I had landed in Colombo for the first time in 1999 to work as a rookie journalist for The Sunday Times. I remember being struck by how dark the capital city was as I came in over the Indian Ocean to land an hour or so after sunset; at how many houses were still lit by only one or two kerosene lamps and at how massive the surrounding ink black mangroves and jungle looked.
After three months of living in pretty squalid and mosquito-infested digs in Mount Lavinia, from where I commuted into Cinnamon Gardens by bus, I went back to Edinburgh University to complete my Masters’ Degree in English Literature. Gainfully exploiting what was, back then in the United Kingdom, a free university education, I became enthralled by studying the canon of literature through the ideological prisms of 'Colonialism, Post-Colonialism & The Discourse of Discovery' and 'Utopia and Dystopia’; by the ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer, John Barbour, William Shakespeare, John Milton and Williams Blake had inculcated such a mythic sense of place on ‘the Sceptred Isle’ from which I hailed (my mother being Scottish-English and my father a Cornishman).
I was fascinated by Seamus Heaney and Tom Paulins' potent depictions of the impact of centuries of conflict in the troubled borderlands of Ireland where I had spent some of my childhood as the daughter of a British Army officer; and at Saint Lucian poet Derek Walcott and Sri Lankan author Michale Ondaajtes’ extraordinary abilities to so poignantly describe how our subjective association with our homeland is often contaminated by our awareness of the idle, often reductive perceptions of plunderers present and plunderers past. And by that I mean the reductive stereotypes formulated by all manner of perceived invaders; from colonisers, to spice traders, to evangelists, to pirates, to pilgrims, to foreign investors to even the politest, most eco-conscious of modern-day tourists until we are all, as travellers, in danger of either just voyeuristically passing through or in Walcott’s words, worse still: "inhabiting a succession of postcards”, void of authenticity.
In the aspirational travel poster designs that we create, we explore these pernicious notions; the flawed belief systems; the superiority and inferiority complexes, the racism, the superstition, the Orientalism, the chauvinism and the Xenophobia that riddle their way into the seemingly innocent picture postcards which countries' use to project either themselves or other nations they connect with out into the global geopolitical arena.
So, if you were wondering if there is sometimes an underlying satirical or provocative element to the Stick No Bills® poster art, the answer is yes. It is impossible to disengage art from politics.
Since 2018 we have been glad to have been able to welcome clients and key visiting suppliers to our new Europe region headquarters; a sister poster art gallery to our original flagship in Galle Fort, located in Costa D’en Brossa 10 in the heart of the 2,140 year-old Roman citadel of Palma, on the southern coast of Mallorca.
“Mayurkar” was the fortaleza of the Cordoba-sprung conquering Moors - who were themselves preceded by invading Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Vandals and succeeded by the Knights Templar, the Thirteenth Century’s military style religious order loyal to King Jamie I.
The 1920s townhouse in Palma’s ‘Casco Antiguo’ within which we undertake all our image, product and supply chain innovation activity, also serves as a permanent (forever in flux) exhibition space within which we showcase museum standard prints of the most sought-after images in our collections.
We feel lucky to be the current custodians of a building that is utterly steeped in history, connected by an underground hiding chamber leading into tunnels to the Cathedral and the beach no less.
We would challenge any leading author of historical fiction equipped with the wildest of imaginations to conjure up two more heritage-rich island paradises than the two from which we are taking the world by storm with our posters.
To this day we remain drawn to Ceylon and the Islas Baleares above and beyond anywhere else. We are entranced by their bizarrely parallel statuses as cultural cornucopias; by the extent to which they have come to represent geopolitical sweet spots, punching far above their weight in their respective regions, attracting millions of traders, invaders, settlers, conquistadors, artists and all manner of other sea-faring souls before us.
Unfortunately, the very popularity of these islands makes them especially vulnerable to over-development and pollution. It is heart-breaking to see, through our daughters’ as well as our own eyes, how much the reefs surrounding them have perished in the past few decades alone. We therefore hope that our designs can help cherish and promote the right type of respectful, sustainable, environmentally sensitive travel to these exceptionally fragile destinations in the years ahead.
Above all, it is our love of the romantic sense of place specific to the locations that we have been fortunate enough to be able to choose to live, breathe and reside in, immortalised in these series of posters depicting peak moments of their past, that resonates through all the Stick No Bills® images.
Jack Rennert of Rennert's Rare Poster Gallery in New York City, so perfectly crystallised our raison d'être in a recent publication that I asked Jack if we could quote him and he kindly approved:
"There’s something perfect about the travel poster. What I mean is the idea, the gestalt of the travel poster. It solicits. You smile. There is no resistance. The wall is a window – and now a door. You’re not here anymore. You are there: even, almost, better than being there, is being in the idea of there: the essence of place, and the specificity of time as created by the artist. These places being advertised – you cannot go there today. None of us can. They are idealisations of the past, which is another country. But the sensation of place, in the artistic past: that you can own. That can be yours. That endures.”
It has been with this sentiment in mind - underpinned by our passion for protecting original copyright while also being innovators in the replicable art arena - that we are increasingly serving as a safe harbour and printing centre of excellence for vintage poster art produced by the greatest illustrators of their time for the 20th Century’s most iconic shipping, railway, automobile and aviation brands, as well as for the longest-established tourist boards on the planet.
For six years we have been busy ‘behind the scenes’ respectfully curating, digitising, cataloguing and remastering historic artworks commissioned by the true pioneers of ‘travel for travels’ sake during the Belle Epoch, Art Nouveau, Art Deco and Mid-Century Modern stylistic eras in which we revel.
Meg Gage Williams
Co-Founder & Managing Director
Stick No Bills®