That Iconic (Oval) Bumper Sticker

Yellow van driving down road in monument valley

As summer comes to a close, some of us are squeezing in our last road trips. While flying down the highway (maybe playing the alphabet game) have you noticed just how many black and white ovals are on the back of cars? These bumper stickers seem to be the most common variety, perhaps because they are so versatile. The original black and white stickers were designed in the 1940s by the United Nations and were used to distinguish international traffic in Europe. These days though, you’ll see an oval for everything from beach resorts to breweries. As you can imagine, we’ve printed a lot of these little ovals for customers. Below, we will go over the basics of how to create your own version of this iconic sticker.

Step One: Size

Visit our order page for a list of the sticker sizes we have available. Click on the oval shape to search for just ovals. Your project will depend on the size sticker you choose. For this bumper sticker, we chose a 3.000″ x 2.000″ oval.

Bleed and safe zone are important in any label you print with us, but especially when it comes to this design. In order to achieve the exact look of the traditional oval, you’ll want a black border evenly spaced around your text. The way to achieve that is by measuring for bleed and safe zones. To find the overall size of your file, add 0.125″ to each dimension (bleed). Use these dimensions to create a new document. For this label, this gives us 3.125″ x 2.125“.

Now you’re ready to find your safe zone. All of your text and borders will need to stay inside this safe zone or else you run the risk of your design being trimmed off when it runs through our cutting machine. To find the safe zone, simply subtract 0.125″ from your final label size. For our example, our safe zone dimensions will be 2.875″ x 1.875″. 

See the color coded example below:

This is a 2" x 3" oval setup example.

Step Two: Design

Of course you are welcome to use whatever colors and fonts you like in your design. However, to achieve the classic European look, stick to black and white and choose a sans serif typeface, such as Arial or Helvetica. Create a white background and center your text within the background. The final step is adding the border. Just be sure your oval border is the same size as the safe zone you calculated earlier. If your oval is a different ratio, the border edges of your oval will not be even. See the example below for the difference:

This is an example of a correctly proportioned border and one that is not correctly proportioned.

Step Three: Material

If you are truly using this sticker as a bumper sticker, you want a material that will stand up to weather and sun. Our most durable material is vinyl, so choose White Vinyl for your oval sticker. It would also be a good idea to choose our UV Resistant Gloss Laminate. This will help your sticker last longer and keep the colors from fading or cracking too quickly.

Custom Bumper Sticker for Three Heads Brewing


Here are a few examples of classic oval bumper stickers we printed for our customers. One is for a brewery and the others mark the distances of a bike trek to benefit those with MS.

Custom bumper sticker for non-profit bike race.

Whether your goal is to create a classic bumper sticker or stylish swag for your favorite gear, this little oval is a simple way to make a bold, clean statement about your organization. Feel free to reach out with any questions you have about this project or any others you see on our blog.

« Back to Latest Blog Posts