Shepard Fairey : biography
Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970) is an American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding Zittoun, Tania, Transitions: Symbolic Resources in Development, IAP, 2006, p168. ISBN 1-59311-226-2 scene. He first became known for his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" (…OBEY…) sticker campaign, in which he appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News. His work became more widely known in the 2008 U.S. presidential election, specifically his Barack Obama "Hope" poster. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston calls him one of today’s best known and most influential street artists. His work is included in the collections at The Smithsonian, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London., Independent, South Carolina
Fairey’s first art museum exhibition, entitled Supply & Demand (as was his earlier book), was held in Boston at the Institute of Contemporary Art during the summer of 2009. The exhibition featured more than 250 works in a wide variety of media: screen prints, stencils, stickers, rubylith illustrations, collages, and works on wood, metal and canvas. As a complement to the ICA exhibition, Fairey created public art works around Boston. The artist explains his driving motivation: "The real message behind most of my work is ‘question everything’."
Fairey sits on the advisory board of Reaching to Embrace the Arts, a nonprofit organization that provides art supplies to disadvantaged schools and students. In May 2006, Fairey became a board member of the Music Is Revolution Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports music education for students in public schools. Fairey resides in Los Angeles with his wife Amanda and daughters Vivienne and Madeline.
Fairey created the "André the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign in 1989, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).Steven Heller, Véronique Vienne, Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, Allworth Communications Inc., 2003, p223. ISBN 1-58115-265-5 This later evolved into the "Obey Giant" campaign, which has grown via an international network of collaborators replicating Fairey’s original designs.Ian Noble, Picture Perfect: Fusions of Illustration & Design, Rotovision, 2003, pp 128–129. ISBN 2-88046-754-3 As with most street artists, the Obey Giant was intended to inspire curiosity and cause the masses to question their relationship with their surroundings. "[[André the Giant has a Posse" sticker on a stop sign]] The Obey Giant website says: "The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker." The website later goes on to contradict this statement however by saying that those who are familiar with the sticker simply find humor and enjoyment from its presence and that those who try to look deeper into its meaning only burden themselves and often, end up condemning the art as an act of vandalism from an evil, underground cult.
Originally intended to garner fame amongst his classmates and college peers, Fairey states "At first I was only thinking about the response from my clique of art school and skateboard friends. The fact that a larger segment of the public would not only notice, but investigate, the unexplained appearance of the stickers was something I had not contemplated. When I started to see reactions and consider the sociological forces at work surrounding the use of public space and the insertion of a very eye-catching but ambiguous image, I began to think there was the potential to create a phenomenon."
In a manifesto he wrote in 1990, and since posted on his website, he links his work with Heidegger’s concept of phenomenology.Steven Heller, Véronique Vienne, Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, Allworth Communications Inc., 2003, p224. ISBN 1-58115-265-5 His "Obey" Campaign draws from the John Carpenter movie They Live which starred pro wrestler Roddy Piper, taking a number of its slogans, including the "Obey" slogan, as well as the "This is Your God" slogan. Fairey has also spun off the OBEY clothing line from the original sticker campaign. He also uses the slogan "The Medium is the Message" borrowed from Marshall McLuhan. Shepard Fairey has also stated in an interview that part of his work is inspired by other street artists.