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 country and good for us; something original and uplifting that would raise positive awareness about this remarkable island's rich heritage and stunning natural beauty all around the world.
For too long Sri Lanka, a palm-fringed isle of twenty-one million people, second only to Hawaii in its biodiversity, had been 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 this island of extremes. What better way to tap into the aspirations, the heritage and the journey of a nation then through a celebration of its poster art movement? So there began the making of Stick No Bills™.
In this context, the words of Jack Rennert of Rennert's Rare Poster Gallery in New York City, so perfectly crystallise our raison d'être 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 any more.
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 idealizations 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."
Our core objective is to enable you to bedeck your walls with high quality travel poster art. To that end, since 2012, our original flagship gallery has been spread out through every main room of an old Dutch colonial merchant's townhouse situated at the heart of 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 have specialised in designing retro-style posters on the one hand, and, on the other, authenticating, raising the profile of and, where copyright and usage rights permit, digitally remastering antique posters dating from the late 1800s through until the 1980s. The resultant Ceylon / Sri Lanka and Iberia / Mallorca vintage and retro collections we exhibit are the most extensive in the world.
As de facto pioneers in post-war Sri Lanka's fast-growing art market, Stick No Bills™ also began to offer a first class framing service, to print limited edition and "mega-sized" posters and to design bespoke retro-style posters for key enterprises within the travel industry. Integrating these capabilities into our offering has made us a one-stop shop for leading advertising agencies, luxury brands and interior designers.
With huge gratitude for the collaboration of our second-to-none staff, suppliers, partners, clients and re-sellers; the dedication of our amazing gallery sales teams and the enthusiasm of our myriad customers, our high quality prints promoting both Ceylon and the Islas Baleares (our first stop in our visual tour of the Iberian Peninsula) can now be found on the walls of literally thousands of homes, hotels, restaurants, cafes and offices all over the world.
We are now five years into the expansion of our proposition across Iberia and beyond while concurrently keeping our Ceylon and Iberia image libraries in states of continuous innovation.
We are also creating inaugural travel poster collections embracing other key travel destinations such as Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
Thus we have grown rapidly from our roots in the coconut groves, paddy fields and wild beaches of southern Sri Lanka, to become a premier international resource for high quality, philanthropic poster art and poster design.
Since 2018 we have been delighted to have been able to welcome clients to our new design headquarters in Calle Temple, in the heart of the 2,140 year-old Roman citadel of Palma, here on the southern coast of Mallorca, an island of astounding natural and architectural beauty situated 100 miles out into the Western Mediterranean ocean from the Iberian Peninsula’s eastern coast.
The extraordinary, 145sqm space 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 Ceylon and Iberia collections.
We are proud to be the current custodians of a building that is utterly steeped in history (and connected by underground tunnels to the Cathedral and the beach no less), located right next to the original 9th Century gate into the Berber Medina of Mayurkar - the fortress of the Cordoba-sprung conquering Moors - who were themselves preceded by invading Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans and Vandals and suceeded by Knights of the Temple (hence the name of our street and the same-named castle next to our property) and agents of the Spanish Inquistion (who reportedly incarcerated and tortured many of those who would not convert in the building which we now inhabit).
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 intent on taking the world by storm with our posters.
We were drawn to these two geographical sweet spots above and beyond anywhere else because we were entranced by their bizarrely parallel statuses as cultural cornucopias in their respective regions; by the extent of the allure with which they both punch above their weight on the world's stage, attracting millions of traders, invaders, settlers, conquistadors, artists and all manner of other sea-faring souls before us.
As surfers, the waves that pound the southwest coast of Sri Lanka and the northeast coast of Mallorca also played their part in coaxing us to these two island paradises.
I landed in Colombo for the first time twenty years ago to work as a rookie journalist for The Sunday Times. After three months of living in pretty squalid and mosquito-infested digs in Mount Lavinia from where I commuted into Cinnammon Gardens by bus, I went back to Edinburgh University to complete my Masters Degree in English Literature. I was, at that time, enthralled by studying the canon of literature through the most recent millenia through the prisms of 'Colonialism, Post-Colonialism & The Discourse of Discovery' and 'Utopia and Dystopia'.
The ways in which Geoffrey Chaucer, John Barbour, William Shakespeare, John Milton and Williams Blake had inculcated a mythic sense of place on "the Sceptred Isle" from which I hailed (my mother being Scottish-English and my father a Cornishman) fascinated me. I was struck 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 Walcot and Sri Lankan author Michale Ondaajte's ability to so poignantly describe how our subjective association with our homeland is often contaminated by our self-reflexive hyper-awareness of the idle, often reductive perceptions of plunderers present and plunderers past. And by that I mean all manner of perceived invaders, from colonisers, to evangelists, to pirates, to pilgrims, to foreign investors to modern-day tourists until we are, in Walcott's incisive words, in danger of "inhabiting a succession of postcards" void of authenticity.
All these pernicous notions: the flawed ideologies; the superiority and inferiority complexes, the racism, the chauvinism and the Xenephobia that riddle their way into the picture postcards and the illustrative maps countries' use to project themselves out into the global geopolitical arena, are explored in the aspirational travel poster designs that we create.
So if you were wondering if there is an underlying satirical element to the Stick No Bills image libraries, the answer is yes. It is impossible to disengage art from politics.
That said, we hope that more than anything else it is our lighthearted love of the beatific sense of place specific to the locations that we hone in on, immortalised in one hyper-stylised, moment of their past, that resonates through all the images that we promulgate. We also hope that our designs can help champion the right type of respectful, sustainable, environmentally sensitive travel to the exquisitely unique yet fragile destinations illuminated by our posters.
We believe in giving back. Proceeds from sales of our Ceylon and Iberia prints go to Medicos Sin Fronteras. Proceeds from specific images in our Iberia collection also go to The United Nations' Refugee Agency and from others we help fund Asociación Ondine's crucial eco-maritime conservation efforts to promote more sustainable and environmentally sensitive travel in the Mediterranean.
We are obsessed with the reduction of our carbon footprint in the way we operate. We print on recycled paper and / or pulp from the fastest replenishing forests. We have ditched single use plastic and, in Palma, we have joined the Clean Wave revolution by becoming a refill station for re-purified water, now freely accessible to all our visiting customers.
Wherever practicable, our biodegradable packaging is made from 100% recycled material and we plant ten trees each month to directly mitigate our impact.
We are founding members of Greener Galle and sponsors of the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society, The Galle Heritage Foundation, The Surfing Federation Of Sri Lanka and The Humming Bird Initiative to bring direct access to water to remote villagers in East Africa.
When you buy our posters you help us fund these important humanitarian, eco, archaeological and conservation projects. So we, along with all our esteemed stakeholders, thank you for your support.
The Stick No Bills Co-Founders, Meg and Philip.
Congratulations to planet earth’s eight time world surf champion Stephanie Gilmore for letting us interrupt her sublime victory at the final, Hawaii-leg of her world championship tour to sign ten limited editions of this poster to help us raise funds for the Sri Lankan Wildlife Conservation Society's vital efforts to protect the island's 6,000 remaining elephants. We've elected the 30 year old Australian super star as the Stick No Bills™ heroine because she is at the top of her game and she represents everything we love. Stephanie is free, she is brave, she is indefatigable, she surfs with style and grace and she is always humble when she wins. Stephanie also shares our passion for clean waves, for protecting the environment and the world's most endangered species. For more information regarding purchase of one of these ten limited editions signed by Stephanie, from which 100% of proceeds go to the SLWCS, please contact email@example.com.