When I tell people that I make and sell stickers in my online shop I'm often met with questions like "who buys them?" and "what do people use them for?" (Personally, I'm of the mentality of "who doesn't buy stickers?" and "what can't you use them for?" -- but that's me.) I then tell them all about the corner of social media that is best explained as a planner sticker cult.
My internet-pal Grace wrote an amusing blog post series about her introductions to the planner sticker subculture...
Washi tape. Erin Condren. Happy Planner. Vertical vs. horizontal layout. Planner stickers.
These are probably all nonsense words and phrases to you, just like they were to me twenty-four hours ago. That was before I’d been initiated by a friend into the wide, weird world of planner fanatics, a community that is exactly what it sounds like.
I loved Grace's tongue in cheek take on the world of planner stickers and asked her if she'd be interested in writing a "Planner Stickers 101" post as an explanation why the heck "planner stickers" are even a thing:
Planner Stickers 101
by Grace of HowToLearnYourTwenties
Let's talk about planning.
If you like art, and you like colors, and you like expressing yourself creatively despite having a limited allotment of creative talent, then you're gonna love this. (To be fair, you'll love it even if you have a lot of creative talent, but your spreads will doubtlessly be better than mine and I can't endorse that.)
As weird as it seems, planning now has an entire subculture. It's a form of art that mashes together organization, scrapbooking, color palettes, and stickers. People invest in these specific planners (the most lauded seem to be Kikki K and Erin Condren brand planners, often referred to in shorthand as just KK or EC) for around $60-$80 bucks a pop, and then proceed to pour their souls and creativity into decorating each individual week’s spread with all manner of planner accessories.
At the core of it, it’s an organizational tool, since the planners are loaded with helpful plan-aheads like meal planning, to-do lists, grocery lists, and run-of-the-mill appointments. At the heart of it, it’s a craft, a way for these sticker savants to express themselves with a whole new mixed medium.
And that's where indie sticker shops, like Lace & Whimsy, come in.
A lot of craft stores sell stickers, even ones specific to planning, though they're usually pretty standard and tend to follow trends. If the Pinterest calligraphy text isn't your style, or if you don't want polka dots and stripes, you can be without a paddle staring forlornly at the planner sticker books in your local Michael's. To find the good stuff, you've got to go looking for it.
There are a ton of independent sellers and artists who create, cut, and sell their own specially curated stickers fashioned to fit into planners of all sizes and layouts. I mentioned above that there are two 'reigning' high end planner brands, but they're far from the only ones out there, and a lot of shops make stickers that fit into any planner regardless of size or layout.
Most sticker shops on Etsy buy art from digital artists and reformat it to fit their vision, though there are those, like Lace & Whimsy, who make their own stickers. As in, they hand-draw, design, and print them all themselves, and these sellers are like special unicorns. Lace & Whimsy designs have a kitschy, cute vibe that fits my personal goal aesthetic - dreamy and empyreal, with a heavy dose of pastel pinks - and are reasonably priced, especially when you take into account her shipping costs (only $1 for US customers!!) and compare that to other indie sticker shops.
So once you have your stickers, how do you use them to plan?
This can be as simple or complex as you want. You can painstakingly and lovingly create your own layouts with pens, tons of stickers, and washi tape, or you can rely on the pre-designed list boxes and banners to do your heavy lifting. I prefer a blend of both to achieve something in the middle, but I'm still sort of a planner novice. My suggestion is really find what works for you and utilize Instagram hashtags for inspiration - some good ones to comb through for layout ideas are #plannerspread or #plannerlayout, or even #beforethepen.
It's also important to remember that there is no 'right' way to plan; it can be intimidating when you begin, since there are a ton of different styles, sizes, brands, and methods. But whatever planner and tools you have (in my case, a no-name planner from Target that I was gifted for Christmas and a handful of Bic pens), you can make your spreads work.
And once you do, you will have unlocked an entire new world of soothing organization.