Wheatpaste Posters: How to create them & their history | Graffter Gallery

In the world of street art, wheatpaste posters have emerged as a powerful and dynamic medium of expression. 

These eye-catching creations can be found adorning walls, buildings, and public spaces, captivating passersby with their unique blend of artistry and messaging. In this article, we'll delve into the fascinating realm of wheatpaste posters, exploring their history, creation process, and impact on contemporary art and urban culture.

wheatpaste poster sao paulo
Photo: Marco Gomes from São Paulo, Brasil, Wikimedia Commons.

    Understanding Wheatpaste Posters

    What are Wheatpaste Posters?
    Wheatpaste posters, also known as paste-ups or flyposters, are a form of street art created by adhering paper posters to outdoor surfaces using a mixture of wheat flour and water as an adhesive. This technique has gained popularity due to its accessibility and the ability to produce large-scale, visually striking artworks.


    The origins of wheatpaste posters can be traced back to early 20th-century advertising practices. Before the advent of modern adhesives, paste made from wheat flour and water was a common medium for affixing posters to surfaces. This tradition was especially prevalent in urban areas, where bill posters would blanket walls with advertisements.

    Wheatpaste posters found their way into the street art movement in the 1970s. Artists seeking a non-destructive, temporary medium for their work embraced this method. It allowed them to create bold, large-scale visuals without causing permanent damage to public spaces.

    Pop Culture Phenomenon: In the 1980s, the underground music scene played a significant role in popularising wheatpaste posters. Bands and promoters used this medium to advertise gigs, creating a distinctive visual identity for the punk, ska, and alternative music subcultures.

    80s wheatpasted posters on a door
    Wheatpasted posters. Photo: Whythealgarve, Wikimedia Commons.

    In the 00s, the enigmatic British artist Banksy brought wheatpaste posters to global prominence. His subversive, politically charged artworks often incorporated this medium, catapulting it into the spotlight and solidifying its status as a powerful tool of urban expression.

    Digital Age Adaptation: With the advent of digital technology, artists now have the ability to create intricate designs digitally before translating them into wheatpaste posters. This fusion of traditional and modern techniques has opened new avenues for creativity.

    Sustainability and Temporary Art: In an era focused on sustainability, the impermanent nature of wheatpaste posters aligns with the ethos of leaving minimal impact on the environment. Artists continue to value this medium for its ability to create striking visuals without causing lasting damage to public spaces.

    Creating Wheatpaste Posters

    Materials Needed:

    Wheat flour
    Large mixing container
    Brush or roller
    Poster design on paper

    The Process

    Prepare the Paste: In a large mixing container, combine wheat flour and water to create a thick, glue-like paste. The ratio of flour to water may vary, but a common mixture is one part water to one part flour.

    Apply the Paste: Using a brush or roller, evenly spread the wheatpaste onto the back of the poster. Ensure complete coverage, especially at the edges.

    Adhere to Surface: Carefully position the poster on the desired surface. Smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles, ensuring a secure attachment.

    Allow to Dry: Give the wheatpaste poster ample time to dry. This duration can vary depending on environmental conditions, but it typically takes a few hours.

    The Impact of Wheatpaste Posters

    Engaging Communities
    Wheatpaste posters have a unique ability to engage and connect with communities. Placed in highly visible public spaces, they serve as conversation starters, sparking discussions about art, culture, and societal issues.

    Fostering Creativity
    This form of street art encourages artists to think outside the conventional gallery space, pushing boundaries and exploring new ways of artistic expression. It empowers creators to experiment with scale, composition, and messaging.

    Temporary Nature
    One of the defining characteristics of wheatpaste posters is their impermanence. Unlike graffiti or murals, they can be easily removed without causing lasting damage to the underlying surface. This feature allows for a constant evolution of urban landscapes.

    FAQs about Wheatpaste Posters

    1. Are wheatpaste posters legal?
    Yes, in many places, wheatpaste posters are considered a legal form of street art as long as they are applied with consent from property owners and do not violate local ordinances.

    2. How long do wheatpaste posters typically last outdoors?
    The longevity of a wheatpaste poster depends on various factors, including weather conditions and the quality of the paste. On average, they can last from a few days to several weeks.

    3. Can I create a wheatpaste poster without using wheat flour?
    While wheat flour is the traditional adhesive, some artists experiment with alternative pastes made from materials like rice or potato starch.

    4. Can wheatpaste posters be removed without damaging the surface?
    Yes, wheatpaste posters are designed to be easily removed. With the application of water and gentle scraping, they can be taken down without causing harm to the underlying surface.

    5. What precautions should be taken when applying wheatpaste posters?
    It's important to obtain permission from property owners before applying wheatpaste posters. Additionally, be mindful of local regulations regarding street art to avoid any legal issues.

    6. Can wheatpaste posters be applied indoors?
    Yes, wheatpaste posters can be applied indoors. However, it's crucial to consider the type of surface and obtain proper permissions, especially if it's a public or private space.

    7. How can I protect wheatpaste posters from vandalism?
    To protect wheatpaste posters from vandalism, some artists apply a clear, weather-resistant sealant over the poster once it has dried.

    8. Are there any notable artists known for their wheatpaste posters?
    Banksy, an anonymous British street artist, is renowned for incorporating wheatpaste posters into his iconic works.

    9. Can wheatpaste posters be created digitally?
    Yes, many artists design their posters digitally before printing them out for the wheatpaste application. This allows for precise control over the design.

    10. How can I learn more about creating wheatpaste posters?
    Many art communities and workshops offer tutorials and resources for aspiring wheatpaste poster artists. Online forums and social media groups can also be valuable sources of information and inspiration.

    Wheatpaste posters have carved a unique niche in the world of street art, offering artists a versatile and accessible medium for creative expression.

    Their temporary nature, engaging qualities, and rich history make them a captivating form of urban artistry. By understanding the process and impact of these posters, we can appreciate the artistic ingenuity behind this dynamic medium.


    Notable street artists who have utilised wheatpaste posters:

    Renowned for his satirical and politically charged artworks, Banksy often incorporates wheatpaste posters into his installations, blending them seamlessly with his stenciled pieces.
    Swoon is known for her intricate and beautifully detailed wheatpaste portraits, which often depict everyday people and capture the human experience.
    Shepard Fairey, the artist behind the iconic "Hope" poster for Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, frequently uses wheatpaste posters to disseminate his artwork and messages.
    Miss Van is recognized for her distinctive, sultry female characters that grace walls in cities around the world. Her work often incorporates wheatpaste elements.

    Faile (Patrick McNeil and Patrick Miller)
    Faile is an artistic collaboration known for their vibrant and layered artworks. They often utilise wheatpaste posters in their mixed-media pieces.
    ROA is celebrated for his large-scale, monochromatic depictions of animals. He has been known to use wheatpaste posters as part of his installations.

    Olek (Agata Oleksiak)
    Olek is a Polish-born artist known for her intricate crocheted artworks. She occasionally incorporates wheatpaste posters into her installations, creating a unique blend of textile and paper art.
    JR is recognised for his large-scale, black-and-white photographic portraits that are pasted on various surfaces. His use of wheatpaste posters is a central aspect of his work.

    Elbow-Toe (Brian Adam Douglas)
    Elbow-Toe creates intricate, hand-cut collages that he often applies as wheatpaste posters. His work is characterized by its fine attention to detail.

    Bäst is an anonymous artist known for his subversive and often humorous wheatpaste posters that can be found on the streets of New York City.

    These artists have made significant contributions to the world of street art, and their innovative use of wheatpaste posters has played a pivotal role in shaping the urban art landscape. Through their work, they continue to challenge conventions and inspire a new generation of artists and enthusiasts alike.

    Post a Comment

    Previous Post Next Post