“Before starting my namesake accessories line [in 2012], there was a time that I traveled to Asia every two months as a handbag and shoe designer for companies like Ann Taylor and Juicy Couture. Since a lot of that design process is done by hand, I’d buy art materials while I was overseas.

I’m a visual person and, for so long, drawing was a creative escape for me.

That ended when sketching became part of my job. To fill the void, I began collecting stickers. I’d find myself hunting for new ones every time I went to Japan, Korea, or China.

This was in the pre-Instagram era, between 2005 and 2009, before people started visually documenting their daily lives on social media. It was mind-boggling to discover how people in Asia spent hours using stickers to illustrate what they did each day.

Today, my sticker collection comprises about 800 different kinds.
The majority are in storage in Brooklyn, and a lot, including several of the ones here, are from Seoul. Many of them serve as inspiration for designs and ideas I have that are waiting to be explored.”

“In Asia, [art stores] display examples of how to fill out a diary with stickers. There are different styles that correspond to so many activities; for instance, if you have a coffee in the morning, you’d note that with a coffee-themed sticker.

Slowly, the diary becomes a scrapbook of your daily life.”

“Special tapes, like these, are used to adhere receipts or other things to diary pages. Often, they’ll come with trims so those items can be labeled.”

“I discovered where to buy stickers by spending too much time on my own when abroad. In Hong Kong, there are two stores Id rotate between: CHUN KEE STATIONERY COMPANY LIMITED and PAGE ONE.”

“Even though they’re not real CHANEL, DIOR, or NARS products, the makeup-themed stickers [at right] still feel luxurious.”

“I got these sheets in TOKYO — the Japanese are obsessed with travel. Other stickers from Japan can be really dark, and there are certain ones that just don’t make sense.”

“Somebody had a really fun job making all of these, right? I can honestly say that I am as obsessed with stickers now, as a 35 year-old, as I was when I was little.”


Photography bySania Tharani

As told toMichelle Rizzi

Isa Tapia is an accessories designer based in New York City.

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