well, the show doesn't even open for a few weeks... you already secured a piece from the show?
Hey, so us SF peeps actually get first dibs on the Shepard Fairey work. There isn't going to be a preview, and they're going to show work to SF collectors as it rolls in. If you're interested, be sure to hit up the gallery.
i was just at white walls today, and many pieces have been already sold! (i would say about 3/4 of the 100 pieces are sold already!) and i was disappointed that i wasn't able to purchase any of them :-( wish i could have gone to white walls earlier and boy, mr. fairey did marvelous job working on those pieces! high quality pieces!!! yes, i believe that white walls will be selling some prints at the reception since i saw many prints lying around.
Interesting article regarding Fairey. I find that a lot of what he says to be sort of tainted on trying to find malice from Fairey.
Some issues he made were legitimate errors on Fairey's part. Using René Mederos work without crediting them isn't right. But he did pull the shirt and offer up a royalty check. Everyone of us has made poor decisions before.
But as with the image of Guns and Roses being a rip off of Mao's propaganda, I tend to disagree. Fairey is famous for taking Early 20th century propaganda and spinning it in an opposite way. He added roses to the tips of the guns so that they bloom with life instead of killing.
As with Obama, he isn't selling out his own message to get on the wagon with Obama. He actually initiated his image in response to a statement he issued when he released the Progress print. Fairey stated that his Obey message was that people were recklessly "obeying" the propaganda and becoming another cog in the big political machine of the Bush and other conformist political leaders. So Obey's approach was to criticize and point out the flaws of people slowly getting absorbed into this broken society ala 1984. With the release of "progress" and his official endorsement of Obama. He wanted to help instigate change and thought to elect a leader whom he thinks can make "progress" as opposed to not being involved in the political process and just complaining and criticizing on the elected leaders after the fact. So he wanted to used his art to institute change as opposed to just criticizing it in hindsight.
With the likely possibility of Obama's Campaign winning... if you have noticed. his message is moving towards peace and hope. His current exhibition at White Walls gallery in SF has his new works depicting sign of peace and progress. Check out Sketchypad's pics: flickr.com/photos/rhinomilk/sets/72157607258468758/
The Peace elephant and Viv le revolucion gives people a taste of his vision of a possible better future under the possible leadership of obama.
So just because Fairey's slogan of Obey was more dark and ironic vision of the future laced with criticism of existing leadership... it doesn't mean a that he can't change his approach and use his art to influence and inspire a message that the future can be great.
Last Edit: Sept 27, 2008 14:29:15 GMT -8 by sleepboy
I read the article and found it a little odd, to make all these claims without speaking to him seems a little strange. I am more curious how many images he so called stole as the article put it and how many people who own the images have contacted him. Again I have had business dealings with his company regarding the recent Duality images and have to say I have licensed images to other people and his company was more that fair. So much so that there was an error in there favor not written into the contract and they were kind enough without us even questioning it to make it right.
So I would like to see the article written with Shepard there to answer the questions the writer asked what seems to be to himself. I also have to say regardless I respect his talent and he has been a true pleasure to deal with as well as his entire company.
YES YES YES ... 2012 A.S.S. IS HERE ... YES YES YES
Post by theredworm on Sept 27, 2008 16:18:15 GMT -8
I'm in no way an expert on anything Shepard Fairey, I've seen his work for years and I appreciate it. It's personally not something I think I would purchase (the pieces of his I really like are about 20k out of my price range anyways).
I had just never heard of any of the things mentioned in the article before and was personally surprised to hear most of it. I mostly wanted to share that article because I felt the author of it had some interesting arguments.
The mentioning of Obama in that article probably resonated with me in a different way than it did with Juggernut3. I blame this on the fact that, once again, I do not follow fairey that closely. I do not know the timeline of his works and when exactly he started the "Obey" theme and the fine details of what it is about. I had thought that it was more of a political statement about civil obedience and just doing what you were told by those in charge. Then again, like I said before, I never followed Fairey that closely.
But I do agree that artists approaches can change. What I thought was that Fairey had switched from a political stance of something along the lines of "Revolution! overturn the government" to "I like this candidate", not more of a "I don't think this is system is working" to "I think this person can do some good". The second seems like more of a reasonable change in stance than the first. The first one I mentioned would seem more like crossing the picket lines from pro-choice to pro-life which seems kind of suspect.
Anyways, an artists view and approach to things can change based on what they think of something or how they feel about it or just by what's going on in their life. I mean, if you were creating a lot of work focused on Michael Jackson cause he was the "King of pop" and then MJ starts getting weird and has all these weird claims against him.... you might start picking a new subject. Or if there was a sudden death in your family you might refocus your work in a different direction.
But back to why I originally posted. I thought it was an interesting viewpoint I had never heard about Shepard Fairey before.
Post by juggernut3 on Sept 28, 2008 12:46:14 GMT -8
Redworm... Thank you again for posting this very interesting article. You are absolutely correct in your assumption: "Obey" theme and the fine details of what it is about. I had thought that it was more of a political statement about civil obedience and just doing what you were told by those in charge". <- that is the Obey theme... You might as well obey Andre the Giant instead of the blind faith in the "authoritative government". I just took it another step based on Shepard's statement on why he choose to endorse Obama. Here's the link to the interview of him at the whitewalls show. He talks directly about moving from Criticizing Bush's administration and going towards Obama's standing a good chance of making changel... www.vimby.com/video/life/us/all/detail/7827
The large majority of people reading this post have seen this image before. This iconic image of Barack Obama, adorned on posters, stickers, clothing and more, was created by Los Angeles-based, contemporary street artist Shepard Fairey. This image has become a pop cultural phenomenon and an important symbol in the political landscape of 2008 and beyond. How did this image spread virally so quickly? Who was involved in making that happen?
A couple of days ago, I spoke with Shepard and Yosi Sergant, the marketing/publicity guru who helped link Fairey to the Obama campaign and who helped the image transcend from mere poster into a phenomenon. Here's a transcript of the interview:
Ben Arnon (BA): The first time I saw the "Hope" poster was at a GOTV (Get Out the Vote) rally I helped organize in South Los Angeles on February 2nd, 2008, which was the Saturday before Super Tuesday. I vividly remember a student volunteer from USC who stopped by the rally and handed out tons of posters. The next thing I knew it had spread virally so quickly that it seemed to be everywhere within a matter of days.
Most of my questions will examine how and why this phenomenon caught on so quickly and, in the vein of Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, who were the Connectors and Mavens who helped fan the flames of this viral phenomenon?
My first question is simply how did the idea begin and at what point did you, Shepard, and Yosi begin working together?
Shepard Fairey (SF): I met Yosi a couple of times in the past but the time we spoke about Obama was at an Adidas event at the end of October 2007. Interestingly enough, we talked about Obama and I said "Yeah, I dig Obama, he'll probably get crushed by the Clinton juggernaut but I dig him." Yosi was not as much of a pessimist as I was and he said it would be cool if I did something for [Obama]. Yosi thought we could figure something out. I said I'd love to but in my past as an artist, I've always worked as an outsider and I've always decided not to go through the bureaucracy. My philosophy is usually if I want to make things happen I'll just act first and apologize later.
But with this I actually knew that Obama's support was probably going to be people who are fairly progressive and an endorsement from someone like me might not actually be a welcome endorsement if it made Obama seem like the fringe, street-artist, radical types were his supporters. I really wanted to help and I didn't want to be that unwelcome endorsement or affiliation.
So I talked to Yosi about it and he reached out to some people he knew. Interestingly, Hill Harper came to my art show in LA at the beginning of December -- just about a month after Yosi and I spoke. Just by the nature of my work and the topics in my artwork, Hill asked me who I was supporting. I said Obama and I mentioned to Hill the same desire to do a poster. Hill said he knew Obama personally and he would look into it as well.
I didn't want to act without permission and have it be seen as undermining Obama's goals in any way. Then Yosi finally got the go-ahead about two weeks before Super Tuesday for me to do an image. I looked for an image that I thought was a good image, illustrated it in one day and had the posters in production the next day. I sent the final over to Yosi who said "Looks great, let's roll with it." I had screen-printed posters printed immediately, sold 350 and put another 350 up on the street. We used the money from selling the 350 to then print up another 4,000 posters that are the ones we gave out at those rallies you mentioned.
It also went viral. As soon as I posted it on my web site a lot of people that go to my web site saw it. Yosi also blasted it out to a lot of his contacts. It became very clear quickly that the demand for an image like that had not been supplied and that the Obama supporters were very hungry for it and also very motivated to spread it.
I think what then happened was that there were a lot of people who were digging Obama but they didn't have any way to symbolically show their support. Once there was an image that represented their support for Obama then that became their Facebook image or their email signature or something they use on their MySpace page. Or they printed out the image and made their own little sign that they taped up in their office. Once that exists it starts to perpetuate and it replicates itself.
I think a perfect pop culture example of something like that is the Rolling Stones tongue logo. The tongue was a secondary logo on the back of the Sticky Fingers album, but it was iconic and simple. Now it's sort of undisputed as the Rolling Stones logo even though it was never created intentionally to be that. It found an audience and it manifested.
Yosi and I did a show in Denver during the DNC Convention called Manifest Hope and I think [the "Hope" poster image] was symbolic of a lot of things including Hope and it just manifested.
BA: Tell me more about that initial run of 350 posters.
SF: Well, the way I'm used to doing things when I print up posters is I print some to sell and I print some to put up on the street. I fund the ones I put up on the street with the ones I sell. That way the whole thing is paid for and I'm perpetuating things on my own terms. I did that to get the ball rolling and then I was going to use the revenue from the first 350 posters to get more printed for a full statewide campaign. At first I was just thinking California because there was such a short amount of time left until Super Tuesday. But so quickly we saw that the demand was there so we started shipping the posters all over the country anywhere that hadn't had a caucus or a primary yet.
BA: Those initial posters -- the 350 to sell and 350 for the streets, along with the 4,000 you sent around to rallies -- did they all read "Progress" or were they a combination of "Progress" and "Hope"?
SF: The first 350 that went up on the street and those 350 that we sold all said "Progress". Then Yosi got feedback from the campaign saying they wanted to push the "Hope" message so I switched it to "Hope" for the next ones.
BA: With those first 350 that were sold, you were essentially seeding these posters with what Malcolm Gladwell would call the Connectors and Mavens. Who were these people? Also, did you sell all of these prints online or did you sell some on the streets?
SF: I sold them all through my web site which gets a lot of traffic. I figured I'm making this image to influence my audience but then also take the revenue to spread this stuff further. But the first step was getting it out to my audience. This is how naive I was at the time about Obama's popularity. I actually lowered the price on the print thinking that a lot of people might be pessimistic about Obama's chances and it might not sell well. And I included my Obey star embedded in the Obama logo, not to try to highjack Obama's credibility as some people have said. But rather, because I know that my hard-core collectors would feel that they had to buy the poster just because it had an Obey logo. Therefore, I was more or less forcing my audience to fund further perpetuation of the image.
BA: Was the majority of your audience that bought the original print Los Angeles-based or nationwide?
SF: Definitely nationwide. I had no idea that it would happen but immediately after those prints were sold out they were selling for $2,000-$6,000 on the Internet.
BA: Yes, that was one of the incredible things about this image that stood out to me. I saw the posters originally on Saturday, February 2nd. The following day I helped organize volunteers at a big rally at UCLA that featured Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Caroline Kennedy and others. And there were posters passed out there.
SF: The posters at that UCLA rally was all Yosi. I was in the hospital with my wife who was about to have a baby.
Yosi Sergant (YS): I was running up and down the aisles rolling up posters and sticking them in the hands of people in the bleachers who would be in the camera shot.
BA: Yes, I clearly remember that. Then, within a matter of days, I was hearing about these prints selling on eBay for thousands of dollars. And friends of mine working on the campaign throughout the entire country had these posters already. There are literally companies with large distribution budgets that cannot achieve nationwide coverage as quickly as your posters did. It spread so quickly and so virally. Was all of your distribution online or was there an infrastructure set up on the ground? I read on Wikipedia that you have an informal network of collaborators who replicate your designs. Is that one of the ways you managed to achieve such widespread distribution in such a short period of time?
SF: That's actually not even true. I've read that I have street teams throughout the country to put up my posters. But that is actually not true at all. However, there are a lot of people who are really excited about Obama and it's unique. It's something that people are willing to take the risk to do -- to go out to put some posters on the streets. We sent posters to Philadelphia and they got put up all over -- on abandoned buildings and on street corners. That's something you don't normally see - that level of motivation in people to spread an image. There are a lot of graffiti artists who are motivated enough to spread their own work and their own name - I'm one of them -- but this is that unique case where all we had to do was make the materials and disseminate them to some sort of hubs around the country and the rest of it pretty much took care of itself.
YS: The one thing we have no shortage of is motivated people who want the poster and who want to spread it far and wide.
SF: Yeah, there are store owners who want to put it in their window, people who put it in the window of their homes, people who are willing to go out and post it up. People will put it on a piece of cardboard and put it on a stake in their front yard. It's pretty amazing and I think all we did was we put it into some of the right channels so that the people who had that willingness could get a hold of them.
BA: These hubs you describe throughout the country -- were they mainly street artists and Obama supporters or were they also coordinated through any official Obama campaign staff organizers?
YS: For example in Philadelphia, the main hub center was a gentleman named Tayyib Smith who has a magazine called 215. There are people in every city who are much like Shep and myself. They have large networks around them, and as you mentioned earlier about Malcolm Gladwell, these people are the influencers in each town. There is a vast network of people who talk to each other on the regular from city to city. We track events we've all done and we look at who's doing good work in each town. We all pay attention to each other and we know each other's reach and capabilities. To find out who would be the right hub or distribution point in each city is literally two Google clicks away.
SF: The main thing was that we just needed to keep producing the posters because the demand was high. You know, unfortunately the Internet is both good and bad. It's good because a lot of people have access to information very quickly. It's bad in that a lot of the information is bogus. For instance, I had already read rumors that I was profiting big-time off of the Obama image. Even though that wasn't valid, I was very cautious not to do anything that would even vaguely validate that argument. So I actually ended up selling a lot of fine art commissions of the Obama image to private collectors and using that money to print more posters rather than continuing to sell the posters. We've sold less than 2,000 posters and have printed over 200,000 of them. And we've printed 500,000 stickers.
We did the same thing with the stickers. We worked with a friend of mine who is a sticker printer and who is an Obama supporter. He sold sticker packs and used all of the profits from the sticker packs to keep printing more stickers. It was a really beautiful thing the way it all worked. People who could afford stickers bought them and for the people who couldn't afford them, we just gave the stickers to them.
BA: I've seen the posters and the stickers but I've never seen bicycle spoke cards though I have read that they exist. Were the bike spoke cards only distributed in certain cities? Also, has the image taken any other form besides posters, stickers, and bike spoke cards?
SF: We did t-shirts through my clothing line as well as through Upper Playground. They've been really helpful at perpetuating the image. They printed up some shirts and sweatshirts and donated those to us to give out. They sold others and put the money back into making more stuff. When we did bus stop ads in Philadelphia, that was paid for with t-shirt money. And Obey Clothing has done t-shirts too that have been sold at retailers and once again, that money has gone back into making more posters and doing events like what we did at the DNC -- the Manifest Hope art show -- and we're working on some other things as well.
YS: The bicycle spoke cards were supported and funded by the profits of Shepard's work. But we reached out to an artist named Mags, from New Orleans, who was displaced by Hurricane Katrina. She has been making beautiful artwork on behalf of Barack Obama for a long time. And we turned that business into exactly the same thing. We sold bike spoke cards for a buck a piece and then used the profits to pay for the production. We ended up making 20,000 bike spokes that we distributed for free throughout Oregon before their Primary.
BA: What are your plans for the final weeks of the campaign?
SF: We're really trying to get people to get out and vote. I actually just did another illustration for the Obama campaign directly that is a portrait of Barack smiling and looking very human and also very dignified and Presidential. The message on that image is simply VOTE. Yesterday we did some viral video spots with a bunch of musicians and celebrities that were pieces to encourage people to support Obama but also just to get out there and vote.
I'm also going to Washington, DC and Boston this month. I have legal walls in both cities already reserved where I'm going to do murals that contain the Obama imagery. And I'll do my thing on the street also.
Last Edit: Oct 14, 2008 8:00:08 GMT -8 by sleepboy
Here's an article on Shepard Fairey from last Saturday's New York Times:
Closer to Mainstream, Still a Bit Rebellious By MELENA RYZIK
SAN FRANCISCO — The code word was “chill.” That’s what the crew with Shepard Fairey, the cult graphic artist known for his screen prints and stickers of the wrestler Andre the Giant, had been instructed to say if a police car rolled by as Mr. Fairey was wheat-pasting one recent night here, illegally tagging warehouse walls and empty billboards with his black-and-white images. Then Mr. Fairey and his helpers would know to make a run for it, to avoid yet another arrest.
But the law is not much of a deterrent for a self-styled populist culture jammer. Mr. Fairey had already spent nearly a week bombing the city’s streets. By midnight he and his crew of a half-dozen 20-something guys, most employees at Obey Giant, his company in Los Angeles, had finished prepping for another all-night run at the White Walls Gallery here, where Mr. Fairey’s solo show, “The Duality of Humanity,” runs through Saturday.
Dressed in torn jeans (Mr. Fairey) and hoodies (everybody), they packed up supplies — buckets of paste, scissors, rope, video camera — and gathered the art: 10-foot-long photocopies of Mr. Fairey’s work, neatly snipped in half. Then they piled into a rented minivan — “No one suspects a minivan,” said Derek Millner, the videographer — and went looking for real estate. They drove by one of Mr. Fairey’s Barack Obama posters, put up two nights before in a parking lot. It was already defaced — the “pe” in the slogan “Hope” had been torn off.
“Everything gets messed with,” Mr. Fairey said, using language more appropriate for a guerrilla graffitist. “It’s just the nature of street art. You can’t be too precious about it.”
Mr. Fairey, a boyish 38, occupies a rare position for an artist. A star in the world of street art for nearly two decades (the Andre stickers earned him an A on an assignment at the Rhode Island School of Design), he has parlayed his stark imagery and indie cred into a successful design and marketing company with corporate clients like Pepsi. His “Obey” images and slogans appear on T-shirts sold at Urban Outfitters, and he has created logos for the likes of Kobe Bryant.
This year Mr. Fairey has earned a new level of mainstream attention thanks to the much distributed and copied Obama poster, highly visible at the Democratic National Convention in Denver and, as a T-shirt or accessory, on a liberal body near you. The White Walls show, his third and largest there, sold out before it opened, with some pieces going for as much as $85,000. (On obeygiant.com, his prints go for $75; studio pieces are normally around $20,000.) He also has a new book, “E Pluribus Venom,” of work from his 2007 exhibition in New York, and in February the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston will host his first solo museum show, “Supply and Demand.”
Through it all he has continued scaling fences and clambering atop buildings to put up his purposefully simplistic, propagandistic images (his crew members serve as spotters and second hands). This despite changes in his health (he is diabetic, and wears an insulin drip under his shirt), family status — he is married with two young daughters — and the continued arrests. His 14th (or 15th, “if you count a brief detention in Japan,” he said, where he was asked to write a note of apology) came when he was wheat-pasting in an alley near the Denver convention center. Because the charge usually amounts to a misdemeanor, which is expunged after six months, Mr. Fairey typically pleads guilty and pays a fine.
“My time’s too valuable to go back to court and fight,” he said.
Still, Mr. Fairey draws scorn from underground artists who think he’s too marketable and critics who say he’s too watered-down. Reviewing “E Pluribus Venom” at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery, Benjamin Genocchio wrote in The New York Times that “the imagery comes off as generic.” He added, “It’s Norman Rockwell crossed with the Dead Kennedys crossed with Communist-era propaganda.”
Andrew Michael Ford, the director of Ad Hoc Art, a Brooklyn gallery that specializes in pieces by street artists, said, “People will say he’s doing something that seems very commercial.” He noted that though he was a fan, Mr. Fairey seemed particularly ripe for criticism because he makes money from socially and politically charged work. “It doesn’t seem to match up in people’s minds,” Mr. Ford said.
Last year Mr. Fairey’s street art in New York was defaced by the Splasher, a paint-slinging detractor, and a pamphlet deploring the commercialization of the art world was distributed by an unknown group at a reception for “E Pluribus Venom.”
Mr. Fairey had printed his own money for that show — “Indiscriminate Capitalism,” it reads on one side, and “Never Bow to the System/Change the System/Or Create Your Own” on the other — and says that like many pop artists he has always toyed with ideas of commercialism, advertising and appropriation.
A child of the punk skateboard scene, Mr. Fairey said he considers the Sex Pistols role models. He’s also quick to give props to his contemporaries and predecessors, like the British artist Banksy, who wrote the foreword to an earlier book, and the Los Angeles artist Robbie Conal, who made his name with his own guerilla political posters in the 1980s.
Being called a sellout can hurt. Still, he’s not bitter. “I hated being under anyone’s thumb when I was younger and now I’m not, through my art,” he said in an earlier interview at the Obey headquarters in the Echo Park section of Los Angeles. As he signed 450 of his Billy Idol posters, he added, “This ability to make things creatively on my own terms that then found an audience and sold — I’ve sort of made my dream come true.”
And that means Mr. Fairey will continue to put his work where anyone can see it. “I don’t need to do street art anymore,” he said in San Francisco. “But I enjoy it. It’s not insidery. It’s an opportunity to ire or inspire. And it’s free.”
The first place he and his crew stopped that night was the South of Market neighborhood, an area well known to old-school graffiti artists. Mr. Fairey grabbed an armful of rope and slipped the folded-up halves of an Andre poster in his hoodie pocket. Within 30 seconds, without help, he had shimmied up the foot-wide metal frame of a billboard. A minute later he popped up on a roof, where he dropped down the rope so it could be attached to a paste bucket. He hoisted it up and another minute later popped up on an even higher roof, where he pasted the unsmiling Andre together with a long brush, stepping back to survey his handiwork occasionally. The whole thing took about 15 minutes.
Next they moved to an industrial area. Though a spotter noticed a potential risk nearby — was that a security guard? — a blank wall above a garage that was clearly visible from the freeway was too good to pass up. “Turn the lights off and keep the car running,” Mr. Fairey’s assistant, Dan Flores, instructed. A retractable ladder was raised on top of the minivan; Mr. Fairey climbed up and pasted “Fiend Rocker,” a menacing image of a Misfits-like skeleton in a leather jacket. It loomed as if it was meant to be there.
Just as he was finishing, a police cruiser slunk by. “Chill chill chill!” someone shouted, and the whole gang jumped in the car, which peeled off with its doors still open, on to the next spot.
Last Edit: Oct 18, 2008 11:49:39 GMT -8 by jujurocs