Hand-Crafted Very Digi-Modern Post-its

At first glance they may look like massive trompe d’oueil artworks stretching up glass-fronted facades for dozens of floors on major skyscrapers in Paris business districts.

Obelix the post it artform on a La-Defense office block

(Read more online French News here)
But look more closely. They are in fact handcrafted designs using thousands of multi-coloured Post-it stickers courtesy of the bosses of some of the country’s largest CAC-40 listed companies. The Post-its depict French cultural icons including Obélix and Astérix on a building in La Défense, Paris and Belgian cousin, TINTIN, covering six floors in the same area.

Now imagine the reaction of profit-obsessed, bonus-mad bosses in the City of London or New York’s Wall Street, to the news that their expensive staff were a) spending the hot summer competing with other office workers in Post-it wars, b) using Post-it pads gleaned without limit from company stationary stocks and c) using company computers and time to plot intricate artwork in cad cam designs to share with colleagues on floors elsewhere in the block responsible for climbing  the corporate creation up front office windows, floor by floor.

For so far the only reaction to this outbreak of summer contracted-job ennui has been a quote in Le Figaro from HR director Caline Christophorov at Ubisoft who said she thought it would help team work. “We haven’t even given a thought to imposing any rules,” she said.

Wait a few more weeks and it would not be at all surprising to learn that the more monumental Post-it works are declared Paris Art Heritage and given formal protection.

Indeed shortly thereafter the Minister of Culture will surely announce subsidies for similar events around France and fund an association loi 1901 to stage an internationally acclaimed Fête du Papillon — [for that is the approved terminology for the Post-it note – “papillon, n.m Définition: Petit papier détachable à bande semi-adhésive. Note: «Post-it », qui est un nom de marque, ne doit pas être employé. Équivalent étranger : post-it note (en), stick note (en)]. Said Fête du Papillon-post it (and it will have to include the anglisisme because there already are a number of Papillon, as in butterfly, festivals) will, like the Fête de Musique, go on to become a global hit and further boost France’s position as world leader of the tourism industry.

Et voilà the shallow critiques that spring so quickly to foreigners lips when it comes to French productivity, will once again have been shot down as precipitous.

The inspired teamwork of hundreds of summer warriors in La Défense and their indulgent bosses will be praised and feted as yet another cultural imperative success adding to the balance of payments surplus. Who says work can’t be fun.

The papillon craze started early in the year in Paris’ Montreuil business quartier when Ubisoft staff decorated their windows with video game characters created with Post-it pads. Employees across the way at the BNP Paribas bank responded with their own designs, word soon flashed out on Twitter to others in the capital and soon the fashion hit Paris’ main business area, La Défense. Staff at companies including Société Générale, Merck and GDF-Suez all got busy and now it seems as if all La Défense has joined the Post-it parade.

Young enthusiasts from neighbouring firms meet at lunchtimes to compare Post-it notes and plan ripostes. “Each time we have to come up with something bigger and more adventurous,” Julien Berissi a manager at Société Générale bank told TF1 radio. His opposite number at GDF-Suez, Stephane Heude said the Jeux de Guerre created a good “social atmosphere” and had brought people together who otherwise would never have met.

As more and more company teams have got involved the designs have expanded to cover several floors and are using more and more stationary stock — in one design some 3,600 Post-it notes were needed for a complex image that had the team call on office IT programmers and computers for help.

Check out the window designs created by French office workers from the contents of the stationery cupboard on this dedicated Postitwar website.

According to the Catholic newspaper La Croix this Postitwar website was set up by Gerald Seguin, founder of the Gustibus and Coloribus advertising agency. The paper says he has been “particularly active in spreading news about the movement, his website allows participants to post their creations. The site has been a major success, both in terms of visitors and social networks. He has more than 24,000 “friends” on Facebook, in 140 countries.

The idea is spreading. In Montrouge (92), a local blog contacted the tenants of all local office buildings in the commune and organised a competition — each building choosing the best piece of Post-it art produced by the staff.

3M, the US manufacturer of Post-it notes must be rubbing their hands in delight. (See below for the Post-it story).

Other records of the latest in French artistic phenomenon can be found here:
A site with a large collection of photos or this site with more photos: French companies are engaged in a Post-it war.

Meanwhile a talented arts major residing in Tapei shows in these You Tube video clips, how to take Post-its into the world of digital imagery using more than 6000 multicoloured Post-it notes in the process.

The videos are filmed by Jay Tseng and edited by Bang-yao Liu. The time it took:
Upload time: 28 min
Pictures on PC: 2 hours 52 min
Editting: 6 hours 44 min
Taking every picture: 78 hours 9 minutes
Placing Post-its: 163 hours 23 min
This says Bang-yao Liu is my senior project at Savannah College of Art and Design.

Who invented Post-it Notes
3M research scientist Dr. Spence Silver first developed the adhesive used on Post-it Notes in 1968, while looking for ways to improve the acrylate adhesives that 3M uses in many of its tapes. Silver found something quite remarkably different from what he was originally looking for. Read the full story here and here Who invented Post-it Notes?

Story: Ken Pottinger

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