Thieves steal thousands of posters by street artist Stik intended as gifts to the residents of Hackney

Thieves steal thousands of posters by street artist Stik intended as gifts to the residents of Hackney
"Holding Hands" poster created by Stik, a Hackney street artist, that were stolen from residents of London. Courtesy the artist via Metropolitan Police.
Leading lights  -   Artists

London-based street artist Stik has created a series of posters depicting two stick figures meant to be part of project for his home borough of Hackney. However, it was reported yesterday that thousands of those posters were stolen from the artist and were being sold online.

The prints feature two stick-like figures in black and white holding hands set against brightly coloured backgrounds. A take on the artist’s 2016 work Holding Hands, Stik was working with Hackney Council and planned to release 100,000 copies to borough’s people via the local newspaper, Hackney Today. The posters were intended by Stik to be a gift to the people from the London borough he called home. Stik said the posters could be kept or sold, but they were hoped to help out those struggling during the pandemic.

However, suspicions were raised when a number of residents did not receive their posters. Then, the artist’s studio began noticing batches of the posters popping up online for sale. They reported the thefts to the police and an investigation has been launched.

“The artist began this project as a gift to the people of Hackney and paid a substantial amount of money out of his own pocket to meet the cost of printing,” said James Readman, Detective Constable of the Metropolitan Police, in a statement. “It appears at this stage that somewhere along the supply and distribution chain, boxes containing thousands of copies of the print have been taken without permission and sold on.” Readman went on to urge anyone with information to contact police to ensure that anyone who missed out on their poster were able to have it.

So far, buyers who unwittingly bought the posters meant to be gifts have returned around 1,000 editions to authorities. A large number of posters with red, blue, teal, orange, and yellow backgrounds are still unaccounted for.

The theft came just days after a maquette of Stik’s large-scale sculpture by the same name sold at Christie’s for £287,500. The maquette was a proof for a four-metre tall stature that was installed in London’s Hoxton Square earlier this year. Stik then donated the money made from the maquette’s sale to Hackney Council to go towards new public artworks. With the donation, Stik hoped to “facilitate a new-wave of public sculpture in East London, celebrating the diverse communities who live here.”

Of the donation, mayor of Hackney Philip Glanville said:

“I’d like to thank Stik for his record of activism, vision for collaborating with the borough and this generous donation. We’re proud in Hackney to be able to support and share the creativity of our residents. This represents a longstanding commitment to inclusive public art that can be enjoyed by everyone in our parks and public spaces and I can’t wait to see the creativity that Stik, through the sale of this work, will help us showcase and unlock.”

Stik is no stranger to these acts and deeds of kindness. In 2011, he helped found the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery that features works made by street artists and he has also raised money to fund an art therapy room at a Hackney hospital.