How Shepard Fairey Thinks About Politics And Art
His "Hope" portrait helped transform Barack Obama's 2008 campaign. This is what Shepard Fairey told Brut about creating iconic street art.
Obey Here First
Shepard Fairey is an artist is an American contemporary street artist from Los Angeles. He’s also a graphic designer, activist, illustrator, and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse – OBEY” sticker campaign while attending the Rhode Island School of Design. It was at this time he found an interest in graffiti, street art and primarily sticker art. What started as a political snarky design utilizing a photo of wrestler Andre The Giant, really gave birth to a branding machine that later transformed into the OBEY brand. He doesn’t want to answer to anyone, he just wants to do what inflates his ego.
You may have seen Shepard Fairey's work. The “Hope” poster for Obama. He became widely known during the 2008 U.S. presidential election for his Barack Obama "Hope" poster. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston has described him as one of the 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 City, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C., the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.
Fairey met French president Emmanuel Macron in 2019. When he found out that Macron has the Marianne piece of his in his office, I was happy because I thought maybe that is a sign that he understands where I’m coming from, socially and politically, in my work. That at least he’s aware of my work. That piece was created as a show of solidarity with French people after the terror attacks in 2015. And it’s more a piece for the people than for any one politician. In 2019, his 100th piece appeared in Paris. Today, those ideas are his sources of inspiration.