Female Sticker Bomber Series: I HeartsNY

Written by Maddie Katz

Long before Valentine’s Day, heart-shaped stickers of hope began popping up around the streets of New York. The art project started in the West Village neighborhood of the stickers’ creator, Lizzy Savage, before she expanded her scope to share her cheerful hearts with the rest of the city. For Savage, the hearts are her way of spreading words of encouragement and offering a little brightness to her community.

How did you start making stickers? 

I started making my hearts with words of inspiration in April of 2020. My neighborhood of the West Village was looking so sad, all boarded up and everything closed, that I wanted to come up with a way to cheer people up as they walked around the neighborhood. The idea came to me to put up bright colored hearts with quotes like “Storms don’t last forever,” “Hope is not canceled,” “Brighter days are ahead,” and many others. When people saw me putting them up they would always say how much they like it so I decided to go to other neighborhoods also. I did not have Instagram or social media and was shocked when my friends started telling me they see my hearts all over social media and people are wondering who is doing it. A friend helped me get IG and then I started writing @heartsny on them and it took off. So many people sent me messages saying how my hearts really help them get through the tough days. This encouraged me to go to more neighborhoods. 

What kind of background do you have in art, if any?

I have no background in art, although, I have always been creative. It still makes me laugh when people refer to me as an “artist.” To me I am just writing messages of hope on hearts.

It still makes me laugh when people refer to me as an “artist.” To me, I am just writing messages of hope on hearts.

How do you decide the subject of your stickers?

In the beginning, my stickers were all words of encouragement to help people through the day. When it felt like the pandemic was nearing an end I started to make some funny ones like “Kindness is so gangster,” “May the voices in your head be kind to you,” “Know when to let that crap go” and others. I now have about 400 sayings that I rotate through.

Which sticker and message that you’ve made has resonated the most with you?

The sticker that resonates the most with me is the very simple “Be kind.” The world needs more kindness. Many of my stickers are kindness related. Other favorites are “Do small things with great love” and “The world needs what you got.”

How would you describe the street art scene in NYC? 

The street art scene in NY is phenomenal.  I was immediately welcomed to it and encouraged by so many great NY artists. I have made so many new friends and look forward to expanding my art work.

How have you changed as an artist since beginning to put your work on the street?

Since I first started putting up simple hearts cut out of cardboard, I have been experimenting painting canvases and wood. I just painted my first mural ever in Puerto Rico and my sayings in the hearts are in Spanish.

There are a lot of encouraging phrases on your stickers and some humor as well. What kind of message do you want people to take away from your art?

The message I am most trying to get across to people is simply to “be kind” and also that there is always a reason to smile.

How many stickers have you made to date?

I have put up over 9,000 stickers from Harlem to the South Ferry, river to river. I photograph every sticker so that is how I know how many I put up so far.

“I have put up over 9,000 stickers from Harlem to the South Ferry, river to river.”

What impact do you hope to have on your community?

I hope that the people who see my stickers feel good and know there is always Hope, Dreams don’t expire and Kindness matters.

Feel free to add anything else that you like! 

The only thing I would like to add is that I started doing this to help people feel a little better during the pandemic and it turned out that it opened a whole new world to me of street art and awesome artist who have befriended me and encouraged me to keep going and let my art and ideas continue to grow.

Also, I was really shocked last year when the CEO of New York Fashion Week saw my stickers and contracted me to be the “Artist in residence” for fashion week. They had my hearts all over the venue and all the staff wore hoodies with my hearts and messages on them. That was a great honor and totally unexpected.

Madeline Katz is a writer currently based in New York. Her articles and short stories appear in Fordham University’s The Observer and Grain of Salt Mag. She enjoys seeing the layers of street art build up around the city as they constantly change. She is currently intrigued by the aesthetic discourse surrounding the differences between Posca and Krink markers.

Insta: @maddie_katz