Indy's 'PEEL Zine' 

You can discover underground city flare everywhere you go — from random wall-sized public murals of aquatic scenes to the multiracial interpretation of Michelangelo’s “Creation of Adam” (God’s finger touching man’s) painted on an overpass in Muncie. Indianapolis has its own street magazine, PEEL Zine (, to document such art.

Both amateur and professional artists express themselves through street art, whether they’re tagging railroad cars or creating public art installations. The newest street craze, born from days when we collected stickers as kids, rests in the hands of sticker-heads. These urban wordsmiths and stencilers hand-paint catchy slogans and designs to paste on restroom stalls, dumpsters, guitar cases and in sticker “blackbooks.”

Livening up the dull canvases of our industrialized nation, the art of graffiti, stencils and stickers is here not only to amuse us, but to also show our individualism. Indianapolis-based husband-and-wife team Dave and Holly Combs, who stem from graphic design backgrounds, bring sticker and street art appreciation to a higher level. PEEL, now in its seventh press run at a whopping 15,000 copies, makes the artform a hobby for all those with an artistic eye — from ages 5 to 95.

A full-color quarterly publication, PEEL documents street art from around the world and includes removable stickers in each issue. Interviews with up to seven featured artists and articles on subcultural trends like street fashion, tattooing, urban toys and even some underground music have made their way into the ’zine’s pages.

“Creative directors buy [PEEL] to ‘borrow’ visual cues from the street for their next ad campaign,” Dave Combs says. “Artists read it for inspiration in their own work, and kids of all ages get it for the stickers.”

After visiting New York City to help with recovery efforts after Sept. 11, the massive sticker campaigns the couple saw there — including one by the international clothing brand Obey Giant, “Andre the Giant has a Posse” — inspired them to start their own sticker campaign, “Ban Comic Sans” (

“Once we started trading our stickers, we soon discovered that there was a worldwide ‘sticker art’ movement that was growing quickly but had no magazine documenting the artform,” Combs says. “The first issue of PEEL was released in late 2003. I think the fun thing about stickers is that with them you can easily customize any smooth, flat surface to your liking with a quick peel and slap.”

The goal of PEEL is to exemplify unique, original art. The ’zine supports Los Angeles’ Buff Monster ( and Chicago’s You Are Beautiful ( sticker campaigns, which help minimalize consumer culture and urban decay by distributing positive, quirky stickers. Combs says he hopes PEEL will spark an urban contemporary art movement in Indianapolis to display such works in a special gallery. In his own time, he and his 3-year-old daughter, Seaira, do their own part to beautify city streets.

“[We] make ‘Litterbugs,’ crushed cans found on the street which we paint and embellish with pipe cleaners and googley eyes to resemble insects, and then return [them] to their original homes in the street,” he says. “You may randomly spy some of them, especially in Broad Ripple. Some of our Litterbugs are in a national Red Bull art show in Atlanta this month.”

PEEL will soon be available at Borders Books, Barnes & Noble, Virgin Megastores and Tower Records. Locally, you can buy a copy for $6.99 at Indianapolis Northside News or Missing Link Records.

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