quotes & rubber stamps: why we love them

Quotes Debunked: Why You Love Them.

Quotes have been a significant part of just about everyone’s lives. Whether you’ve quoted someone for a report, pinned an inspirational quote to Pinterest, or air-quoted your mother when she scolded you, you’ve used one. But what is the significance of them? And why do people feel so inclined to proudly display the words of others on their walls? (At home and on Facebook.)

Quoting is a “strange human propensity to repeat chunks of text…And echo others’ voices,”

according to Ruth Finnegan, author of Why Do We Quote? Some of the earliest recorded quotes are in literary works representing Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. Each cites its own spiritual leader in an effort to determine reasoning for law, or provide justification for sociocultural behaviors. Authority and need for order are the whys in those examples, but what about the platforms for displaying text? You can find quotes on epitaphs, inscriptions, samplers, gravestones, bathroom stalls, sides of buildings, fortune cookies, and the list goes on and on… 

…So, when did we start using quotes as art?

Displaying quotes began in England in the mid 17th century as a combination of women’s scholarly and virtuous training. The primary skill of women was deemed to be embroidering, and as time went on weaving went from utility to a display of social status. Showcasing one’s embroidery skills signified her free time, which further implied the husband’s success and wealth. As women enhanced their knowledge of both literary and household responsibilities, they began to introduce moral verses into their sampler decoration. The chosen verse suggested a direct connection between the embroiderer’s feelings and her sampler.

Another notable piece of quote art is an anthology. Anthologies, or books from books, are collections of quotes that began centuries ago. Cultures created anthologies to collect, display, and reference these accumulations of wisdom. Interestingly enough, these collections represented a disposable income because the books provided an easier way to reference. In a sense, these collections of quotes were intrinsically valuable. Therefore, it makes sense that throughout cultures

quotes are latent treasures continuously passed down through generations.

…But, why does it matter who said it?

Now we can assess what value is given when we quote someone famous. Doesn’t it always seem like an ancient philosopher, a human rights activist, or Emily Dickinson is the source of these words of wisdom? century as a combination of Why can’t we just quote our older sibling, slap their name behind the quotation marks, and call it a day? 

Whoever is using the quote is validating their feelings with a famous name as if to say, “See? I’m not the only one who feels this way!” It seems that quoting not only retains its past life, but can also be representative of feelings, emotions, and current life stages. 

…Now, where does The Quote Lab come in?

We here at The Quote Lab feel that there’s more to quotes than just spouting out a verse for the sake of name-dropping. As people who portray emotions on a daily basis, we feel there is nothing more lovely than knowing that someone out there feels, or has felt, the same way as us. We also believe that there’s nothing more endearing than expressing those sentiments and paying homage to their originators through display. Simply put: Quotes bring people together.

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Rubber Stamping: Why?

Rubber stamps are associated with childhood arts and crafts on rainy days. Rarely are the pieces ever regarded as artwork, though, because the tools themselves seem so, generic. If we stop and look around, however, we can see the enormous impact rubber stamps have had on culture, creativity, and communication. It’s those exact reasons that have piqued our interest and led us to wonder why, as adults, rubber stamps still garner a certain amount of respect and artistic appreciation?

 Where did they come from?

We can trace rubber stamps all the way back the 1860s when they were created for convenience sake. The need to rapidly duplicate words, phrases, or other marks of certification gave way to the inexpensive form of printing and sign making. The true inventor of the rubber stamp remains a mystery, as the men who stepped forward to claim it could never back it up with any true proof. However, the development has made way for generations of artists to leave their mark—No pun intended. 

Wait, Warhol used rubber stamps?

One of the first people to implement rubber stamps into his work was a German artist and poet, Kurt Schwitters. By combining scrap paper, words, and impressions in a collage, Schwitters created what he called “Mertz”—Named for the portion of scrap paper split from Kommertz in one of his earliest pieces. His blend of poetry and stamp impressions laid the groundwork for the introduction of stamps in contemporary art.

The next generation of impression art included Andy Warhol, who was notorious for using rubber stamps in his early prints and paintings. His implementation of stamps created texture and whimsy that made his pieces distinctive long before his introduction of pop art through silk screening. Just as important as Warhol were artists like Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, who both used rubber stamps in their famous works. Johns and Rauschenberg finished their pieces with rubber stamps to create authenticity through texture in both Flags and The Cardbirds II, respectively.

How pre-defined shapes encourage creativity...

Now that we’ve got a bit of history and proof that stamp art isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, we can truly explain why we feel so compelled to create it. The act in itself seems easy enough, however, it’s not merely throwing impressions on paper. The true art happens when its creator must use the physical limitations of stamps as an advantage. Artists must actually stretch outside of traditional drawings, and rather, use their aesthetic skill to assess the piece as a whole. It’s essentially up to the artist to overcome tangible obstacles with intangible creativity. Furthermore, viewers tend to participate in the artwork based on the way the artist uses defects like placement, imprecision, and depth of shape. Basically, understanding individual images intermingled with design leads to a more thoughtful interpretation of context.

 According to Peter Nagourney, author of Rubber Stamp Art, “Just as words can add to the image, so can images enforce language,” suggesting the complementary aspect of stamps and quotes. The “added resonance” of design elements with language has the power to stretch viewers’ perceptions while emphasizing the artist’s own sentiments. 

So, why does The Quote Lab use rubber stamps?

The heart, spirit, and timelessness of rubber-stamp art is a driving force for us here at The Quote Lab. We take pride in what we give to our work, but more importantly, we take pride in what others take from our work. It’s that emotional interpretation that makes us excited to continue producing thoughtful pieces that echo with you, our customers.

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