Sticky Fingers


Stick ‘Em Up! is an alluring and captivating film that delves into the little known world of wheat pasting in Houston, an inner city art form that’s as provocative as it is misunderstood.

Documentary filmmaker Alex Luster delves into the minds and motivations behind several guerilla street artists capturing the lifespan of their art… conception, creation, placement and ultimately the removal by the city abatement enforcement. With commentary by legendary street artists and from top local law enforcement officials, Stick ’Em Up is a gritty, street smart documentary that reveals the secret truth behind some of the prolific images you see everyday.


Stick’Em Up trailer


>> Wheat-pasting and sticker street art has disciples around the world. What’s distinct about Houston and its wheat-paster scene?

Alex Luster: I’ve seen what is going on around the world between my travels and Internet exposure and I wanted to show people what’s happening in my home town. I feel a significant difference lies in Houston’s anti-graffiti abatement forces. The street art here tends to have a very short lifespan. For example, a poster might be pasted up at 5 am and be reported and buffed by 10 am leaving graffiti scars (patches of gray paint) for the citizens to see instead.


>> Tell us about some of the artists you interviewed for STICK ‘EM UP!, and what makes their individual styles unique.

Alex Luster: When I began this project 3 years ago, I was amazed to find how many methods are used to create this illicit artform. From Eyesore who hand-draws to DUAL that uses Photoshop and Give Up whose main tools are scissors, glue & a copy machine. Each artists’ message is as unique as their method of creating.


>> What were you most surprised to discover about this scene while making STICK ‘EM UP?

Alex Luster: What surprised me most was the amount of time that is invested into each poster. Some artists spend days preparing for their artwork to hit the streets. Not to mention, the risk involved in installing the art.



>> You interviewed people in law enforcement as well – the artists’ opponents. What are your thoughts on what they had to say?

Alex Luster: I wasn’t very surprised with what most of them had to say. I did however challenge some of their ideals and it was interesting. I’ll leave it at that.


>> Maybe even more than graffiti, wheat-pasting is associated with political agitation – flypost propaganda. Is that dimension present in Houston’s scene?

Alex Luster: It is somewhat present in Houston. Some of the artists that we focus on in the movie have an underlying political message. An interesting aspect of this type of art is that, because of it’s anonymous nature, the artists can feel free to express any political opinions.

>> Before STICK ‘EM UP, you made a short doc, HOPE MURAL, and a profile video of the artist Give Up – two projects that you say sparked your interest in street art. What was it that appealed to you so much?

Alex Luster: Being introduced to this subculture led me to look at art differently. The idea that art could be taken out of conventional galleries and onto the streets and still be significant was of great interest to me. My initial interview with street artist Give Up was intended for a short profile video promoting his upcoming opening at Aerosol Warfare Gallery, a legendary street art gallery in Houston. What was intended for a 5 to 10 minute interview turned into an intense 45 minute talk. After editing his profile video, I held onto that unseen tape knowing that I’d do something with it. Six months later the idea of Stick ‘Em Up! was born.


Video about Texas Street Artist: Give Up.


About Alex Luster:

For a while, the Houston art scene was lacking a little “Luster” – but Alex, or “PRIMO!,” as his friends and fans call him, changed that by exposing the inner-city street art movement and giving Houston a backstage pass to their very own thriving artistic renaissance. Much like the elusive wheat pasters he documents, Luster prefers to lay low and keep it behind the camera. Check Stick’Em Up website for more information.