New book captures the spirit of football from the perspective of fan-made stickers

Suridh Hassan and Ryo Sanada are back with their new book, TIFO: The Art of Football Fan Stickers, which takes a fresh look at football from the perspective of fan-made stickers. With anti-design masterpieces and fresh insights into the beautiful game, it’s a treasure trove of creative fandom.

Bursting with over 250 sticker designs from over 50 European football clubs, TIFO: The Art of Football Fan Stickers is an epic compendium which celebrates the unsung creativity of football supporters. By introducing readers to the world of subversive sticker street art culture within football, it also explores how to follow it through the sport’s highs and lows.

Unlike previous releases from Suridh Hassan and Ryo Sanada, this is not a conventional sticker book. Instead, the stickers are presented in a more traditional format, but one that still bucks the conventions of regular artbooks. Working under the approach of being “anti-design”, TIFO: The Art of Football Fan Stickers is sure to appeal to both football fans and creatives at large.

Speaking to Creative Boom, Suridh says the book results from a lifelong love of football. On top of that, the pair of authors also worked in and around the sport. “As documentary filmmakers, we produced and directed two films, and then just as creatives, we worked in production (we did this whilst slowly building the Stickerbomb series on the side),” says Suridh.

“We always saw stickers in football, and it just seemed like perfect timing. We could use our documentary skills, take pictures, archive, curate and make a book that hasn’t been done before.”

In its pages, Suridh promises that readers can expect to find behind-the-scenes stories of their favourite football clubs from across Europe, all through the lens of stickers. “It’s quite unique imagery as it’s fan-made stickers, not the branding and imagery you see from clubs.”

Indeed, with TIFO, the pair dive into the heart of football fandom. This results in imagery at its rawest and perhaps its most honest. “It’s more about capturing the essence of raw emotion and passion that fans pour into their creations, kind of like a visual shout from the stands,” Suridh explains.

“Football ultra designs and fan-made stickers are quite fascinating in terms of communication as they’re not about looking pretty, using trendy fonts, or flashy backgrounds. It’s all about the directness of messages, egos, pride, motifs, and marking territory – very much akin to graffiti tags.

“This isn’t design for design’s sake; it’s visual storytelling, where each piece is a burst of something – a bit raw emotion, a declaration of identity, a joke, it’s much more about heart than aesthetics. (Which is very much at odds with a lot of what we see today.)”

During the book’s production, the pair unearthed plenty of insights that are sure to fascinate fans and designers. These include a look at the corruption at the Parma football club in Italy and the beautiful connection between Aberdeen and Boavista thanks to the work of now-deceased fan Dave Geddie.

“There was also a lot of insights about design and messaging,” adds Surih. “As the book focuses on fan-made design, a lot of stickers aren’t ‘designed’ in any conventional way; some are templates, some are just literally thrown together, so you see a lot of natural styles and ideas.

“We also found it interesting that the UK enjoys banter and humour. Meanwhile, southern European clubs tend to be quite serious in their messaging, and Scandinavian and Northern European clubs are quite artistic, with a good cross-section of fonts, illustration and graphics.”

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