There are countless tumblr blogs dedicated to drug culture and imagery. Many are filled with so many mesmerizing .gifs and visual illusions that you don’t need to be on drugs to feel tripped out.
My friend, who knows I love 60’s and 70’s film culture, linked me a site that has cool retro music and film imagery (nsfw). There, among the images of Jack Nicholson and and shlock movie posters, I came across a post of several stamp bags.
Stamp bags are used by collectors to keep collectible stamps in. They are waxed, glassine packets which have been appropriated by heroin dealers because the heroin powder does not stick to the bag. Users can get every last bit of power out. It’s not unusual for drugs to have particular names in an attempt to brand a certain strain or source. Heroin addicts usually want the strongest stuff they can find, so this often leads to some pretty scary names like “D.O.A”, “Trainwreck” or “Game Over”.
The NYTimes ran a piece on an art show called show called “Heroin Stamp Project” which featured 150 packets picked off city streets, as well as 12 blown-up prints made from them. It was “meant to examine the intersection of advertising and addiction and provoke questions about how society addresses dependence and disease.”
Anyway, as I scrolled through this “art work”, I was stuck by how many brand names were used. There was Starbucks, Best Buy, Nike, Obama, Dr. Pepper, Louis Vuitton, even Target and the aptly used: Arm and Hammer.
So we have a classic case of Brandalizm™. The Human Truth™ of the wave is: “You don’t own your brand, I do.”™ Often times we see appropriation as a way to celebrate and willingly market something -because someone has a great love for a product or service. It’s not always classy but it does signify loyalty, which is a good thing. In this case however, it’s more about a drug dealer branding and marketing a certain kind of drug. Definitely, not what these companies had in mind for their logos, I’m sure.