• Erica Stella

Her Life in Yellow

In New York City, Yellow is a color that gives its residents immediate visual references: taxi cabs, crosswalks, the N,R,Q line, traffic and construction signs are everywhere. Today there's another image that comes to mind when we think of Yellow, and NYC Street Art.

Photo by Erica Stella

The journey of life is a long & winding road; and for some that road leads us to the streets. For this female artist & poet, the streets have been giving back.... My Life in Yellow was created 7 years ago with a blog about moving to the Big Apple. A post-divorce move in order to restart her life, teach yoga and attend Parsons School of Design for a fashion degree. The thread woven throughout focused on her favorite shade of the rainbow.

For this Central PA girl, living in NYC was always a dream. But after completing fashion school, she continued her self exploration with a 2 month trip to India. There, she experienced the life of a lonely traveler, and her blogging became a creative narrative to share while in solitude. A solitude she would start to find calm settling into.

Right before that trip, the first of two important people in her street art come-up showed her around. TagsandThrows creator, Thomas Gunnarsson gave her an A-Z lesson in NYC graffiti. He educated her on the artists, different techniques and the gritty history of the streets. Later down the road in Stockholm, Sweden, he would introduce My Life in Yellow to All You See Is Crime In The City. A world renowned street art documentarian, with a common love for endless global travel. They became immediate friends.

Photo by Erica Stella

AYSICITC would later visit MLIY in the summer of ‘16, during a trip through the 5 Boroughs. She gave her new friend a #228 Priority Mail sticker, and MLIY inscribed the words, “Tell him how you feel”. At the time, she was in a failing relationship, and instead of speaking directly to the man she no longer loved - she put her intimate communication out into the universe. AYSICITC put it on a mailbox that night, and a few weeks later someone found it....

And so it began, and so it continues. The instagram bug intrigued her to see what kind of responses she would get the next time around, the next, and the next, and the next. She had been properly educated on street etiquette at this point, and felt her voice could be a golden-colored contribution. While NYC is one of the most amazing places on Earth, over time everyone experiences the loneliness of city life. She had found a new social and creative outlet, even if it was anonymously.

Many of the lemon colored messages are adaptations from her poetry, some are phrases that come to mind, others are words of affirmation we all need when walking the streets, “You are good enough”, “You are worthy of love”, and “It will be okay”. Think Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley, but written on a saffron city lamppost sticker. Plus the author looks much better in Louboutin heels, and a LBD.

Photo by Erica Stella

In contrast, some of her yellow memos are more snarky & honest, "She's the one who drinks champagne at dive bars" & "The weak try to crush what scares them". The soulful reward is the sense that maybe what she’s doing is letting people know they aren’t alone.

Photo by Erica Stella
Photo by Erica Stella

The responses have been overwhelming. Many say the yellow stickers seem to appear in the moments they need them, and exactly what they need to hear. Fans message her with personal stories, and how a particular sticker made them feel. All of the attention made her consider pushing her creative boundaries further.

Photo by Erica Stella

Yellow personifies happiness. It is bright, cheerful, and commands attention. A woman who considers that her favorite color, is a woman with courage and determination - even if life has buried it for a time. MLIY was happy to participate in the recent ad space takeover campaign, Resistance is Female. A group of varied medium artists, with the message of reminding women we have the power to create change. Many news outlets picked up the story, and she found herself taking a further stroll down the avenue of street art. She recently participated in her first group art show, curated by SacSix at Benson's NYC & doesn't plan on that being the last....

Photo by Erica Stella
Photo by Erica Stella

At the same time she was dipping her toe in the gutter of street art, another friend inspired her to read her poetry publicly, inviting her to an open mic night. While the path of being a street artist had pleasantly surprised her, she realized the road had led her here. What the streets had been giving her this whole time, was an enormous amount of confidence. The next challenge.... on a regular basis, she took on a 5 minute set to publicly speak her poems. ​

MLIY invited me to hear her speak at her usual spot Parkside Lounge for their open mic night, The Inspired Word. This night, she was one of the featured artists. For all the exposure I've had with street artists, this was a very different night for me. Something from a page in my personal past, but I saw how these roads all connected; how our lives intertwine. Alone, but in these city streets... really, never are we alone.

Photo by Erica Stella

MLIY poured her heart out that night. She put it out there with little trepidation. She performed her written words, like a spoken word poet would, as if she found a whole new expression. She had never attempted any type of performance art, until she started putting her yellow ideas out into the world. Was this the road street art has lead her down? Is the ego-trip gained from illegally tagging the public space giving her the courage to get on stage? Maybe... but she still didn't want her face shown during our photo shoots - typical vandal.

Photo by Erica Stella

In addition to the place she now calls home, My Life in Yellow stickers can also be found in Paris, Berlin, Stockholm, San Francisco, and a few other smaller cities. The responses are just as welcoming as it has been in New York City. People ask her to send them stickers so they can put them up, but she prefers that when you come across a yellow sticker, you know MLIY was there too.

Follow her on IG, and her website is current with all the latest adventures. Where will you find her Yellow Life next?


MLIY Tools of the Trade:

Montegrappa Micra pen in '14

Blank Yellow Egg Shell Stickers

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