SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT    FORMAT MAGAZINE                       modern street art does not rate           r...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTwas hanging out with always called       States where I had never been and        and...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTcause and the war is the effect. It’s     are inoffensive as possible – if I nd      ...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT     The rst time I saw the black         encourage people to buy them not         wo...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTfor them to get all the stickers off of   cracking down on graf ti and              “...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTreincarnate somebody that will take       more antagonistic. At rst, what I         j...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTposters. Free. Like 500 a night. Later   your living?                            make...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTthey say. It doesn’t really matter.      just a reactionary. I’m react- ing to    whi...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTarrested, to me, is so ironic because        Scene on the Road                   conf...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT"HOPEfully Last Post on the Topic" is     out, was mis-credited to Jonathan         i...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTothers, I decided to do some            isnt an artist because he used his          F...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT    Huf ngton Post                    knew it had spread virally so            unwelc...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTwho were digging Obama but they          the revenue from the rst 350             And...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTthese posters already. There are               SF: Yeah, there are store           ac...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTand put the money back into                   Im also going to Washington,          B...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTprotects Shepards right to do what          Purpose of the use: was the          New ...
SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTnew meaning and conveys a                welcomed it but never of cially         The ...
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Shepard Fairey: Responsible Delinquent (References)

  1. 1. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT FORMAT MAGAZINE modern street art does not rate really hard at building up my January 2008 himself at the top of his profession. design vocabulary through multiple Shepard Fairey He’s also a fan of the images and sticking with it. I think by Kobi Annobil establishment’s new favourite anti- that I’m the perfect example of the establishment gure, Banksy and idea that if you really focus, lack of digs the London take on the artform technical virtuosity will not holdfeatures/shepard-fairey/ and what it has to say about the you back. That you’ll still be able to city. The next time I see Shepard accomplish what you want. Kinda It’s more than likely, that if again in person is four days later. like punk rock, y’know? Those guysyou’ve ever visited a major city He’s spinning “Made You Look” by who maybe couldn’t play that well,you’ve seen Shepard Fairey’s work. Nas at his own private view and but they had something to say andYou may not have realize it, but it looking like he’s having the time of they learned how to play, just wellwas de nitely lurking somewhere his life. One city at a time, Shepard enough to say it.near you. Nineteen Eighty Fouria is Fairey is inducting the world into Format: Who would you sayShepard’s rst real ne art show. his posse. your dominant in uences are?We caught him as he was preparing “Once the art world has Shepard: There have been severalfor the opening. Unstretched validated the art to where it’s worth in uences. In the art world, Andycanvases are laid out on the gallery thousands of pounds or dollars, Warhol and Barbara Kruger and a oor as the man behind the Obey people go ‘Well, here it is for free on graf ti artist named Twist, who’smovement, slowly paces the space, the side of this building, it’s an made the transition from the streetsexplaining his work and artistic outdoor museum, we should to the galleries. There’s a posterprocess. Ninetenn Eighty Fouria protect this.’” artist who lives in LA named Robbiesees iconoclasts such as Joe Format: When did you rst Conal, who was one of the rstStrummer, Bobby Seale, Angela realize you had a air for design? guys to combine his art withDavis and Bob Marley, elevated to Shepard: I liked to draw since I was political commentary and humourtheir rightful place as icons. Not of a a little kid, so I think it was maybe that was in uence, but goingNew World Order, but of a Different around rst grade I won the art further back in design, the RussianOne. contest and that was when I Constructivists are a big in uence. As I’m ushered in, a realized, maybe I was good at Format: What made youphotographer speaks of Shepard in drawing. I guess art was the only choose Andre The Giant’s face asawed tones. A bit like Dennis thing I was really interested in the image for your best knownHopper’s photojournalist character making a career out of through high sticker campaign?in Apocalypse Now, talking about school and I don’t think that I ever Shepard: The Andre The GiantColonel Kurtz. “He’s a deep guy” he necessarily thought that I had a sticker was just a spontaneous,says, as Fairey wraps up another super big talent, but I just couldn’t happy accident. I was teaching ainterview. On the way home, after think of anything else that I’d friend how to make stencils in thethe meeting I see a row of Andre rather be doing. I still don’t think summer of 1989, and I looked for aThe Giant faces staring at me from that I’m anything spectacular. I picture to use in the newspaper,a wall by Clapham Common. A think that I’m a competent designer and there just happened to be an adweek later, I notice more Obey and an OK artist, but I think the for wrestling with Andre The Giantposters on the wall of a bar on strength of what I do is that I gure and I told him that he should makeLadbroke Grove. His ubiquity is out what the best way to a stencil of it. He said ‘Nah, I’m notequal measures impressive and communicate an idea is and pair making a stencil of that, that’sspooky. Not bad for someone who, that down to its essence and keep stupid!” but I thought it was funnydespite his obvious in uence on things simple but appealing. I think so I made the stencil and I made a that’s my real skill and I’ve worked few stickers and the group of guys I 1
  2. 2. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTwas hanging out with always called States where I had never been and and movie posters?each other The Posse, so it said there was a sticker already there Shepard: Well, skateboardingAndre The Giant Has A Posse, and it and I thought “This is kinda out in culture was really in uential forwas sort of appropriated from hip- the middle of nowhere and that me. I started skateboarding when Ihop slang – Public Enemy, NWA was really interesting.” But I hear was 14 in 1984 and one of myand Ice-T were all using the word. about it from people all the time. aspirations was always, because of What happened was, after They’ll say something like “I was in skateboarding and punk rockputting a few of the stickers around, Singapore and I saw one of your culture, to T-shirt graphics, ora lot of people were saying “What’s stickers” and they kinda work like a album graphics or skateboardthis Andre The Giant Has A Posse chain letter because I give so many graphics and now I’ve done all ofthing about?” and I started to away and even when I do sell them, them. So, I didn’t know whether I’drealize that an image in public has they’re so inexpensive, people want be able to, but it was de nitely athis power to be provocative and to participate, they want to put goal and I goal that realized, maybethe more that it’s out there, the them around, so that was always even earlier than I thought I would;more important it seems and the part of the goal; to encourage when I was 18, I designed some T-more important it seems, the more participation. Shirt graphics for a skateboardpeople want to know what it is and Format: Did you ever expect clothing company and it was veryperceived power because real people to get your work tattooed on rewarding for me to see peoplepower and a platform and I decided their bodies? wearing a shirt that I’d designed onthat it was fascinating and I wanted Shepard: No – that was really the street. A movie poster like Walkto push that as far as I could and at surprising. There’s a lot of them The Line – that’s pretty amazing.the time, just putting a bunch of now. I think maybe those people I’m a fan of Johnny Cash and to getstickers around Providence, Rhode are being short sighted [laughs]. I’m to do something for a musical artistIsland seemed like taking it far, but very attered by that. that I admire and for a movie that Ithen after a while that became Format: Are there any up and think is pretty solid lm. It’sreally easy, then going to Boston coming artists whose work you amazing. Having my work beand then New York was like the admire? accessible and a part of pop culturenext step. Each small level of Shepard: Yeah – there are several. via music, movies, skateboarding –accomplishment led to a greater There’s a young guy named all of that stuff is really importantlevel of ambition. Neckface who I like, who is a graf ti to me that it’s not just in art Format: What’s the strangest artist that is doing stuff that’s sort you’ve ever seen one of your of primitive but really, really fun Format: Talking world historystickers? and spontaneous and totally for a second: which events fromShepard: I was at Bells Beach in breaking the rules of graf ti. So between 88 to present day haveAustralia, near Melbourne. I’d been many graf ti artists are engaging in been the most interesting toin Melbourne for an art show and an artform that was always comment on?Bells Beach was about an hour supposed to be about rebellion but Shepard: The second war in Iraqaway and we got in the car to drive completely adhering to all the has probably been the mostthere just to take a day off for a stylistic rules that have been in important thing for me. 9/11 isscenic trip. And I got out of the car, place for almost 30 years now. important because it created awent to go put a sticker up on a Neckface is a guy that’s just doing it climate of fear, that then allowedpole, got to the pole, went around it in his own way and I like that. the war in Iraq to be pusheda little bit and saw there was There’s Ryan McGuinness, Rich through, so I’d say the wheels werealready a sticker there. That was Coleman, David Ellis, Swoon… in motion right after that and I wasone of the rst times and de nitely Format: Did you ever think that starting to react to the changingthe only time outside the United you’d see your work on skateboards public mentality. 9/11 was the 2
  3. 3. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTcause and the war is the effect. It’s are inoffensive as possible – if I nd INTERNATIONAL TATTOOan ongoing thing, but global a boarded up building or a wall MAGAZINEwarming is de nitely something that’s already covered in graf ti or March 1999I’m very concerned about. Global decaying in some way – unkept – “Always remember to Obey” Thewarming and deforestation, that’s an appropriate place for art of Shepard Faireyoverpopulation – a lot of issues with street art. To go and put something Interview by Chris Nieratkothe environment. It’s all stuff I’m on a pristine building that’sconcerned about. obviously gonna piss off the Format: Street art is often seen building owner, I don’t think that’s international-tattoo-magazineby authority gures as vandalism. constructive. I think a lot of whatIs there anything that you think street artists need to do is be a little It’s safe to say everything in lifestreet artists can do to change that more thoughtful about where boils down to a point of reference.perception? they’re placing the art. I mean, I can Either you can associate somethingShepard: The perception of street be open about who I am as a street with a previous experience and getart as vandalism has already, by artist because I feel I can defend the joke or you can’t. Growing up insomeone like Banksy, been called any of my decisions about where the 80′s, most children were fans ofinto question because Banksy’s I’ve put my work and if everyone a wildy theatrical dramatization ofwork has gone up in value so approached street art with that athletism-professional wrestling.tremendously that some of the same idea, that they’re gonna be Hairy men with green tongues,councils are actually protecting his held accountable for it then there hawaiian wife-beaters, makeshiftwork now and I think that he has wouldn’t be as many problems. It’s sheiks and other physical odditiesforced a lot of people – not just local like a lot of laws in general exist treated our eyes to some of thegovernment – but a lot of people in because people don’t use common most visually pleasing actors of thegeneral, to reassess the role of art sense. So street art – like anything decade. And it’s only naturral thatin public spaces. Once the art world else, if you use common sense, it’s they be remembered.has validated the art to where it’s easy to defend and it just makes So comes Shepard Fairey, aworth thousands of pounds or the people that react against it look student at the Rhode Island Schooldollars, people go “Well, here it is like narrow minded assholes. of design, a by-product of the bad-for free on the side of this building, Format Magazine: Can you news decade with all its awful TV/it’s an outdoor museum, we should nish the following statement, movie/radio programming, lookingprotect this.” Art is subjective; some Shepard Fairey is… for a way to capita;ize on thepeople think a tag looks beautiful Shepard: [Laughs] covered in wheat warped eye candy of his ’80sand some people think it looks like paste, right now. No – Shepard upbringing. And obey giant, a 7’4″,crap. The way that I’ve tried to Fairey is a graphic artist who would 520-lb. mass just begging for lovechange the mentality about street like to get people to question with his sad, sunken eyes. A loveart with the powers that be or the everything they’re confronted with. that only Shep could have given.general population is by being In 1989, looking for a catchywilling to explain what I’m doing as icon to use as a stencil, Shep camea street artist because I think across an image of Andre that hepeople fear what they don’t couldn’t pass up. That iconographicunderstand. face of obey giant has since popped If you’re willing to be articulate up everywhere from Jim Morrison’sand explain what you’re doing, that grave to MTV, making manyremoves the ‘fear’ factor and that peoople laugh and unnervinghelps and additionally, where I put art – I try to put it in places that 3
  4. 4. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT The rst time I saw the black encourage people to buy them not wondering what it was. It wasand white sticker, I laughed as something precious but funny, and it had this real primitivethinking, “That’s so funny, so something they could get a large graphic appeal, too. You could spotsimplistic. I should have thought of quantity of and participate in the it on a stop sign from like 50 yardsthat.” That was in 1992. Three years whole process. It was really to away and still tell what it was. Welater, I found myself in Florence, encourage the proliferation of the started sticking them everywhere inItaly on a bus to Milan, starring out stickers in other parts of the Providence. I remember overhearingthe window, when I noticed a row of country. And it really did work. It people on line at the grocery store,posters for an upcoming speech by still is working. The people that sell or at parties talking about it andCastro bombarded with Andre and distribute my clothes, KRUX, that’s when I realized this thing hasstencils. It was then that the joke they sell rolls of stickers, 500 for power and I should exploit serious and I realized the $50, so they’re still only a dime a That’s pretty much how it started.staying power of those sad eyes. I piece. It works out good for me. It’s CN: Being looked upon as ahad seen Andre transform from a licensing deal where they print visual terrorist, have you had yourwrestler, to actor, to skate guru to the shirts and the skateboards and I share of arrests? SF: I’ve gottenan international icon. And for that get a royalty. I send them all the arrested ve times. I guess I hadbrief moment, I felt a part of designs and they just do it. The pretty good luck for a while and Isomething. Something bigger than posters I still print myself. They started feeling invincible becauseall of us. make the clothes, leaving me time from ’89 when I started until ’95 I Chris Nieratko: How did this all to focus on my art. never got arrested. I had to turncome to be? CN: Were you a big fan of myself in for doing a billboardShepard Fairey: We made the rst wrestling growing up? Why did you where I covered the future mayor’sstickers at Kinko’s with a straight- choose Andre? [of Providence, Rhode Island] faceup proof sheet with 20 of them on it SF: It was really just random luck. I with a huge 8 1/2-foot Andre head.and we’d just Xerox it on sticker was a little into wrestling when I But that was just bad luck becausepaper. And I started sending those was like 10 years old, but when this his daughter hap- pened to knowto friends in other parts of the started I was just looking through somebody that knew that I did, telling then to do the same the newspaper for a picture so I Since Providence is such a smallthing. In 1990 I was working for this could teach my friend Eric Pupeki place, it was easy for them to ndcompany called Jobless Anti-Work he’s a pro skateboarder how to out that it was me, but I didn’t reallyWear that used to make clothes. paper-cut stencils, because that’s get in a whole lot of trouble for that.They printed their own vinyl how I was making all my stencils Later on, it started getting worse. Istickers, so I started making my back then. I didn’t even know about think the rst arrest was inown vinyl stickers there. Soon after photo emulsion silk-screening at Providence for putting up a stickerthat, I started my own screen that time. So I found this ad for on the X-treme Games course. I hadprinting business. That’s how I was wrestling in the paper with a picture put a huge ve-foot stencil on theable to get so many made and so of Andre. I started laughing at it and luge course, thinking that they weremany out there because, owning my we just decided that was going to be gonna lm it from above and theyown screen printing business, I the mascot for our little clique of didn’t do that. They only lmed itwould just print up stickers, week skateboarders, the skate posse. from street level. I was like, “Fuck,after week. I hired a guy that would “obey giant has a Posse” was what they sabotaged my whole plan!” So Ijust print stickers all day, every day. Eric and I came up with. I just wrote went out and started puttingAt the time we were selling the that stuff by hand and photocopied stickers over the Taco Bell signs.stickers at like a dime a piece, and it at Kinko’s. It all took like 10 I was really hated by the Rhodethe reason for selling them so cheap minutes, super fast. It just caught Island School of Design securitywhich I wish I could still do was to on somehow. People were all staff because it was such a nuisance 4
  5. 5. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTfor them to get all the stickers off of cracking down on graf ti and “I am so fucked.” So I got really sickcampus. It was mostly other people graf ti-related crimes. I was in SoHo because they wouldn’t give me myputting them up. They’d just trickle putting up posters on a building and insulin and I had to be rushed to thedown through the kids that knew these cops in an unmarked car hospital. It was actually goodme. I wasn’t even the one putting pulled up next to me. They were like fortune that that happened, becausethem around, but they just saw me graf ti task force guys, they knew they rushed me through trialas Public Enemy Number 1. One of all the graf ti magazines and they because they didn’t want to lock methe school security guards saw me were like, “Isn’t this stuff from up again, have the same thingand called the Providence cops, the Rhode Island?” They knew all about happen and have a lawsuit on theirsecurity that worked for the X- it. “We’ve seen this stuff up all over hands. So they didn’t have time toGames. Next thing you know there’s the city, in six different precincts. prepare a real deep case. All thesix cop cars there, all over a little What’s your involvement in it? Are judge got was a thing saying, rstblack and white sticker. They took you a disciple?” I was like, “Yeah, arrest, possession of a tool ofme in and I spent the night in jail. I’m just a disciple.” But then they criminal mischief, which was sprayAfter that was in Long Beach. All opened my bag and found like 80 paint. So my public defender got methis took place in ’96. My luck really posters, I’m wearing cargo pants off with time served since I’dran out that year. I was putting up stuffed full of 300 stickers, two already spent two days in jail. And Iposters all around Long Beach, and spray paint stencils, spray adhesive just walked out the back door as ifthis bus driver called the cops on and two cans of paint. This was nothing happened. But now when Ime. I spent the night in jail and then right before I was moving to go to New York I’m extra careful. Ithe next day paid $250 to get out. California, so I was trying to leave live in San Diego now, and the CityAfter that I got busted in New York with a major impression. of San Diego is after me. They sentPhiladelphia. What happened in all They looked at all this stuff and an e-mail to my website which Ithese places was there were all said, “We don’t think you’re a recently had to shut down sayingthese people that really wanted to disciple, we think you’re the guy. that they wanted to nd me.get me. In Philly, my girlfriend at Tell us what the truth is and we’ll CN: Do you consider yourself athe time was living there and I was let you go.” Which, of course was a graf ti artist or a ne artist?putting a lot of stuff up and there lie, but I was already busted. So I SF: I see what I am doing as reallyhad been a few newspaper articles admitted I was the guy. They took important. I’m not just a graf tiabout all the Andre stuff popping me downtown and they were artist. This thing has, at least I hope,up. Then these visual anti-citizens talking about hitting me with felony a greater degree of social relevancewere gunning for me. ‘That Andre charges. l’m sitting in the cell for than most straight-up graf ti, evenguy, he’s a nuisance. We gotta get like two days, they took my insulin though I am into being a punk andhim.’ So this guy with a cell phone and I got really, really sick. When I an antagonist, which a lot of graf ticalled me in. I had to spend a couple rst got there, they put everything guys are into. I also think it’s a bitdays in jail there, which is really in little evidence baggies and they more provocative than tagging. See,whack because I’m diabetic and had it spread out on this one big I never even wrote graf ti. Thethey take your insulin away when table in the station house and they closest thing to graf ti that I do areyou’re in jail because you can only were bringing in tours of all the spray paint stencils, cause you cantake it with a needle and they of cers and everybody from the get a lot of them around, real quick,consider that a weapon. I got kinda station to look at all the stuff, as if and they’re pretty permanent.sick in the cell in Philly, but not too they’d found 50 kilos of coke or CN: What’s the deal with thatbad. The worst time, which was the some huge stash of arms. That’s new wrestler that goes by the namevery last time, was in New York. I how they were treat- ing it. It was The Giant?guess with Guiliani’s whole quality kind of attering and funny, but at SF: I think with the popularity ofof life campaign, they’re really the same time all I could think was, Andre, they want to try and 5
  6. 6. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTreincarnate somebody that will take more antagonistic. At rst, what I just a more extreme take to go on.his place. You know Billy Crystal wanted to do was make Andre The thing just keeps evolving. Imade that movie, My Giant. I think associated with funny, hokey things always want to maintain the senseAndre really has a lot of fans, even that people are already familiar of humor in it all. I think it’s realthough he’s dead, and I guess with, like the Flash Gordon or the important that people can see thepeople are just trying to come up Jimi Hendrix, Sid Vicious, Gene humor in everything. And evenwith something new that can build Simmons icons. I brie y teased though some people don’t see theoff what he was. I think it’s pretty religion when Andre died with humor in the Stalin graphics or thelame. Andre’s appeal isn’t that he commemorative shirts, a crown of Lenin graphics, people need towas a huge oddity and everything, thorns around his head. What I realize they are not serious. Youit’s that he acted, he did the realized later on was that there are can’t insert obey giant’s face next toPrincess Bride, it’s that he was really two ways to get people to like that of a communist leader andfunny-looking. There’s so many something. One way is to associate hope that people pull the message,aspects of him that make him it with things they like, the other “Communist, dead wrestlers shouldlovable and appealing, but I have to way is to make people like it take over the world.” There aresay that I have really branched out because the people that dislike it those people that take it that way,from that, from relying just on his are people they hate, so therefore, that have such a knee-jerk reactionimage. I have simpli ed the face so by default, they like it. If you make to the colors that they automaticallymuch that a lot of people that don’t conservative people hate it, then think it’s negative. What’s so ironicknow the history of what I’m doing people that are rebellious like it, though is that they are assaulted,wouldn’t even know that it was even if they don’t know what it bombarded with Marlboro using theobey giant. See, I’m trying to create means. So people’s reactions to the same colors as l am, but they don’tit more as a universal Big Brother propaganda stuff, the people that get uptight over that. They shouldicon and not just something that are usually scared of things they fear Marlboro way more than a deadhas its roots in wrestling. It’s more don’t understand, are the wrestler, that’s for sure. What I’mof a propaganda icon than a conservatives and the authoritarian doing now is making fun ofreference to obey giant per se, types that want to maintain a cer- propaganda and advertisingbecause that can only go so far. The tain order in our society that is easy utilizing the same devices at thelonger he’s been dead and the less to control. They hate it. It’s like a same time. What started the wholehe’s seen in the public eye, the less wrench in the spokes of society to propaganda thing is that I’d beenrelevant that factor is going to be. I them. Those people disliking it putting up stencils and stickers a lotthink it’s a funny and interesting makes other people like it. So they on the streets, but I wanted to dopoint of departure, but it’s the say, “I don’t know what it is, man, some larger scale stuff, poster-wise,graphics for me that are the but it just says, ‘fuck the system,’ so and get that out on the street. Istrength of the work. I love it.” And that’s cool and very gured out with the copiers in CN: You started out with some powerful in that way. Providence, that my friend taughtclever rip-off graphics and have Also, as a graphic artist, it’s me how to rig up to get free copies, Isince moved into an entirely new easy to take things that already could do 11″ x 17″ and there’srealm with your work. Explain exist and interpolate them and even always spot colors and the spotwhere you’re at and what in u- if it’s a clever change, it still gets color is usually red or blue. Theenced that evolution. stale. I’m more interested in, as far reason I was using those super-boldSF: Well, it started off as a joke. As as my ne-art ambition, doing work images with the red and the blackthe joke grew, a lot of people’s that is a little more graphically was that I could run the printnegative reactions were surfacing, challenging than that, so I nd that through twice once with each coloreven though it was a harmless joke. the propaganda stuff is more and as long as the registration wasAnd that made me want to be a bit rewarding to me as an artist. It’s real- ly loose then I could get these 6
  7. 7. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTposters. Free. Like 500 a night. Later your living? make more Giant stuff. The wholeI started screen-printing ones that SF: Not that great. Not really. I sell-out bullshit is just a load ofwere the full 18″ x 24″, then I’d have struggled when I was in Rhode crap. If you have an opinion but nomultiple sizes but have like a billion Island to make enough money to way to get it heard, what does yourof these disposable, free ones that I live. It’s expensive to live and make opinion count for? So I do thecould throw up on the street. It’s all that stuff out there and then corporate stuff for my ownvery dif cult to make a lot of have to ship it out west and place diabolical reasons. And if I don’t doscreen-printed ones to put up on ads and all of that. But I managed to the Mountain Dew stuff, somebodythe street because it’s so time- get my work out there and get it else will. It’s not gonna changeconsuming and expensive. My seen so when I moved west and Mountain Dew. I actually don’t havebudget deemed my aesthetic to be started my design rm with my a problem with Mountain, white and red. Then I just partners here at Black Market a lot They support and fund a lot ofstarted designing around those of people wanted me to do graphics alternative sports events thatcolors. But it made sense. I was for them because they liked a lot of normally wouldn’t get funding. Ialready headed in that direction the graphics I did for Giant. In a tried to sneak the Andre face intowith some of my work. It was just a way, Giant alone never sustained the Mountain Dew can, but theyvery convenient convergence of my living but it de nitely feeds the didn’t wind up using the actual canfactors. That’s when I came up with graphic design business, which does design that we did, just the iconthe whole OBEY thing. In my video I sustain my living now. Indirectly, design. That would have been prettysteal some scenes from a movie Giant has been very pivotal in funny it was pretty subtle, but itcalled They Live, which is kind of getting as far as I have. We do a lot would have been on every can oflike a conspiracy theory lm with all of stuff for skateboard companies, Mountain Dew.the authoritarians and assholes on but we also did the most recent CN: What direction do you seethe plan- et are aliens that you can Specials album cover, Suicide your work heading?only see with certain sun- glasses Machine’s, DJ Spooky and book cov- SF: I don’t know. There’s differenton. But when the people put the ers for Harper Collins, graphics for stuff in uencing me all the time.sunglasses on all, the the Sierra Club. Bad Religion had me I’m a pop artist in the most basicadvertisements say stuff like OBEY. design a tour poster for them, and I sense. The things I see around meI thought that was such a funny got Andre’s face on the helmets of are the base of my work, and as I getmetaphor for the insidious presence these sol- diers that were marching bored of one thing and decide toof all these Andre stickers that in front of a burning city. They read or look at another thing, myaren’t really physically undermining didn’t care. The biggest corporate scope changes. I”m a very visualanything, but are kind of an thing that we’ve done was the new person. I’ll see all this communistannoying nuisance to people that icon that’s gonna be on the propaganda and the message andwant to maintain order. And the Mountain Dew cans that say MD. the power behind it and I’ll forceOBEY is just reverse psychology; it’s 700,000,000 cans. They wanted us to myself to nd out what’s behind it,really saying DISOBEY. The cool do it because they saw a video about the motivation and the inspirationreactions that I’ve gotten to the Giant. It’s sort of an inside/outside for the art. I read about it alsoOBEY have been: “fuck off” written plan for me, because what I really because I don’t want to seem like aon the posters, and “dis” written in enjoy is Giant but I can’t make dumb ass not knowing what I’mfront of OBEY. And that’s really enough money from that, so what I borrowing from or inspired by. I’vewhat I’m looking for, to move do is take most of the money from been criticized by people frompeople to action, or at least think this corporate stuff and put it back German, Cuban, African andthoughts they aren’t accustomed to. into making more stickers and Russian cultures. “You’re mixing up CN: Honestly, how well does posters. So where someone would a whole bunch of different stuff,the face of a dead wrestler sustain buy a sports car or a boat, I just con icting images, into one thing,” 7
  8. 8. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTthey say. It doesn’t really matter. just a reactionary. I’m react- ing to which are pretty piercing. I don’tI’m going for a feeling that these all this stuff I’m exposed to just as know. It’s funny, because I’m sothings convey, not necessarily the much as people that look at Giant used to that image it doesn’t reallyexact politics. are reacting to it. take me back that often. But CN: What have been some of CN: One question I’ve had since sometimes I get a glance at it andthe stranger interpre- tations of the I rst saw your stuff is how is it you it’s like goofy and ominous and all Iimage that you’ve heard? have access to Andre’s image? can think is, “I’m lucky I stumbledSF: I heard it’s a rock group, it’s SF: I don’t. I stole it. I nally got a upon this thing and that I was ablesome cult, it’s a skateboard noti cation from his estate that I to do something,” because it reallycompany, but I think one of the couldn’t use the phrase “Andre the does stick in people’s minds.most fascinating things that Giant” in any images or use his face CN: Any last words you’d like tohappened early on was I have this in anything. The thing is, and this is throw in?friend in South Carolina who is why I had to shut my Web site SF: The only thing I want to say thatJewish. His parents own a store and down and change the name from I didn’t mention was the use ofwe used to go by there, before he to public space to put your artwork outknew who was doing the Andre, because the there is a right that every taxpayerstickers, and just stick one on the WWF owns the name obey giant. It should be entitled to because afront window. Almost every day we took them nine years to gure it out. billboard, although it may bedid it and every day they’d clean it My Web site seemed like such an suspended above some piece ofoff. I think they were getting really of cial obey giant website because property that someone owns andannoyed, but we heard that they of the name that people kept hit- rents to the company putting up thecalled the police saying that some ting it up. I don’t even know how I billboard, it still invades everyone’santi-Semitic group was targeting got that domain name. You’d think space and infringes on your visualtheir store. That statement alone it would have been taken. A lot of horizon. Therefore, as a taxpayerre ects their persecution complex wrestling fans were hitting the site, you should be able to put whateverand it, of course, had nothing to do and eventually somebody pointed it you want out there for people towith anti- Semitism. We were out to the WWF people. But in the look at. All that shit on thefriends with their son. That was an more recent images that I’ve done, billboards, bus stops, and buses isinteresting one. On the other hand, the face has changed enough from advertising. Which is basicallysomebody once wrote on a poster the original likeness to not be saying you’re only allowed to speakwith the star above the skyline, copyright infringement. So what I’m your mind or put your thing out“fuck you nazis.” It’s all about gonna do is still make the original there if you have money and you’repeople’s reaction to symbols. I’m sticker, just not sell them or put selling something, and willing toreally trying to desensitize people to that name on any clothing that I pay for the space. It has to be an all-symbols, because they’re way too could get a lawsuit for. As far as the or-nothing thing. Either everybodyloaded. The star is used by so many ne art domain, it’s totally open. that’s motivated to put stuff out ondifferent cultures that think they Warhol didn’t get sued for using electrical boxes, post boxes, I’m notoppose each other politically like Marilyn Monroe’s likeness, as long it saying private property, mind youthe Russians, the Chinese, the was changed enough. I just can’t private property owned by anAmericans, the rebel ag. The ve- sell products with the name obey individual, or company, not taxpointed star is just a pleasing icon, giant, so now it’s all gonna just say payer owned you shouldn’t fuckbut you use it with red and people Giant. with that. But public space…all orassume you’re a communist. It’s CN: When you go to work and nothing. No billboards, noreally funny how peo- ple react to you look at that simple face with its advertisements, or nosymbols. I’m trying to encourage sad, sunken eyes, what do you see? discriminating against people withpeople to think rst, react later. I’m SF: What do I see? Just those eyes, no money. It’s unethical. Being 8
  9. 9. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTarrested, to me, is so ironic because Scene on the Road confused. Then it hit me, and II don’t pull up to the billboard January 23, 2009 thought wow. Thats why it alwayspeople’s place and say, “Your A Last Word - HOPEfully - and seemed so familiar."advertisement is offensive to me, Updates on the Obama Poster Photo Of the iconic poster he said,I’m taking you away.” I think that’s Mystery "Ive been on the campaign fora concept that most people don’t by Tom Gralish twenty something months, so Ieven think about, but is so would see the artwork, I wouldlegitimate in my eyes. photograph it, and think what is inquirer/sceneonroad/2009/01/ with this image? But it didnt snap. It never occurred to me it was my ml picture. I thought, thats familiar. I would see it and say thats cool, but After almost a year now, credit it did keep sticking in my head." He for the photo source of the very rst was quick to add he is not mad at Shepard Fairey Obama poster Fairey, and hes not looking at any (above, left) can be given properly to lawsuits. "I know artists like to look photographer Mannie Garcia. He at things; they see things and they joins previously credited make stuff. Its a really cool piece of photographers David C. Turney work. I wouldnt mind getting a (center) and Brooks Kraft (right), signed litho or something from the who provided the basis for two of artist to put up on my wall." Faireys works later in the election I talked with him again this year. morning, and he is still proud his Since my last post two days ago photo is the basis of the painting ended with my falling asleep, I that now hangs in the National wanted to update a few things, and Portrait Gallery, a part of the maybe call this my last full post on Smithsonian Institution, in the Obama Poster Photo Source Washington, DC - the rst portrait topic. As I said to a few commenters of the new president to enter the on Wednesday, then I can go back national collection. to blogging about shooting Speaking of hanging on walls, newspaper weather feature photos The Danziger Projects Gallery is and living vicariously through the working with the AP to include adventures of my bigger-city Mannies photo in their "CAN & DID photojournalism colleagues. - Graphics, Art, and Photography Mannie did call me back that from the Obama Campaign" exhibit morning, and when we rst talked that just opened on inauguration he was in the White House already day in New York - and in a limited covering President Obamas very edition of custom archival prints by rst day on the job. He is still master printmaker David Adamson. freelancing in Washington, DC, The gallerys James Danziger, currently covering the White House through his The Year in Pictures and Capital Hill for Bloomberg blog was also responsible for News. He told me when he saw my bringing the whole mystery to a email telling him he was the wider audience than I could ever photographer, "At rst I was kind of possibly reach with my blog. This 9
  10. 10. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT"HOPEfully Last Post on the Topic" is out, was mis-credited to Jonathan illustrate a hypothetical Obamaalso opportunity to put all the credit Daniel with Getty Images. James inauguration speech. Ironically, the- and links - in one place, and Danziger, also alerted by Cramers sleuths began hitting on his pagerecognize some of the many web- comment, cleared all that up by just hours before Obama would besleuths out there, like him, who talking to Daniel and then Time making his actual address.didnt give up on nding the photo. picture editor Mark Rykoff. There were also links passed As near as I can tell, there could Meanwhile, by the time I read my around to the picture athave been talk about the source email a few hours later and talked, starmedia.comphoto on a forum on Expresso Beans with Cramer, Rykoff had already and with a 2006 story.that started with a thread almost xed the Reuters credit on his The photo was also found by manyexactly one year ago - Jan 25, 2008 - website. All I had to do was start sleuths paired up with one ofbeginning with an image of the trying to contact Young, who Senator John McCain on a politicalObama "Progress" poster and a coincidentally had just posted a website from just a few months agostatement attributed to Shepard piece on the Reuters blog about in the general election.Fairey in support of candidate shooting black and white lm with Throughout Inauguration Day,Barack Obama promising that his $25 plastic Holga camera. I left a bloggers were copying the Obama"proceeds from this print go to comment there, and later that night headshot into Photoshop toproduce prints for a large statewide ended up talking with him and his determine how close it really was.poster campaign." That forum - for boss Gary Hershorn, Reuters By this time most were certain theadmirers, collectors and sellers of Pictures Editor for North America. photo - which appeared to haveFaireys Obama artwork - was Jim shot the photo in January of been taken by the Associated Pressoffered up as a clue in more than 2007 during testimony in the Senate sometime in 2006 - was the email or comment I received. I con rmation hearings for Deputy Steve Simula compared itinitially looked there, but with Secretary of State John Negroponte. (above) to the Reuters photo on hisalmost 4,000 posts on over 200 It took just a few days for links Flickr page. Digital photographypages of discussion about how to alternative photos to start instructor Nathan Lunstrum alsomany different ways the artist showing up as comments on the created a composite and posted it assigned the "F" on his autographed blogs of everyone involved in the more evidence on his blog, Ambleposters and whether they are search. Graphic artists wrote that On. Like Nathan and a few others,printed on cream or white stock, I everyone was giving too much Chris Perley (below) rotated it justgave up. I did learn on the site that credit to Faireys use of Photoshop slightly, layered it over the HOPEsigned and numbered screen prints image manipulation tools. We photo poster, and then changed theof the original "Progress" run of 350 people just assumed the artist did opacity so you can see bothhave sold for as much as $5500. on some work on it, including adding together.ebay, with the latest sale listed - on the rest of the necktie and With the actual image nowJan. 21st - for $3152. shoulders. Thats why we were so nailed down, all that remained then I dont know if anyone else ever willing to accept the Reuters photo was determining the true source oflooked there, but it was Mike as the source. Portrait artists offered the photo and the identity of theCramer, a computer programmer that they would never ip a photographer. As I drove back fromhere in Philadelphia, who was the persons face. covering the inauguration in rst to point to the Reuters photo by One of the very rst sites to be Washington that night I fullyJim Young. He found it, as Fairey linked to with the new photo was expected someone would havesaid he had, by doing a Google an October 2006 blog post on the found the answer by the time Iimages search. Intrepid Liberal Journal by woke in the morning. The photo was illustrating a information professional Robert But, I couldnt get to sleep, story which as it turned Ellman. He used the photo to inspired by all the sleuthing by 10
  11. 11. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTothers, I decided to do some isnt an artist because he used his Fairey replies: "You know, Idetective work of my own. It didnt sister and a dentist as a basis for actually dont know who thetake long, especially with all the American Gothic?") or do an photographer is...but, whoever youclues others had already dug up. I "expose" or "force a copyright case," are, thank you..."kept searching for different versions my own quest for the source imageof the photo, downloading them, stemmed only from my curiosity asand opening the embedded caption a photographer and a journalist. les and metadata. As most of theimages on the web are there as a The poster is beautiful and willresult of cutting and pasting, right- no doubt someday end up in artclicking and saving from other sites, books along with "Americanalmost every picture I opened had Gothic." When I rst saw it in Westbeen stripped of all that Philadelphia last winter during theinformation... Pennsylvania Primary, I was so ...until I got to a photo on impressed by its social with a Pennsylvania propaganda hip street art look, IPrimary story. walked over to get a closer look. It That photo had a full caption, was too sophisticated to be from thecomplete with Mannie Garcias local Obama of ce, or for thatname. matter, even from his national It is entirely possible there are campaign. So I was intrigued.others who found Mannies name I always gured the source rst but didnt get any recognition. photo was made by a White HouseOthers may have posted comments photographer - someone who hason a blog somewhere and could still shot thousands of headshots ofbe waiting for them to be approved. familiar political faces. Otherwise, IBut the entire discovery process was guessed a photographer shootingreally a collaborative effort between Obama up close just one time ineveryone who cared about such their life would have shown thethings. Someday, new or existing pictures to all their friends, andsoftware will be perfected to better have memorized every single detailsearch images on the web. But until of their photos.then, photos like this will only be Anyway, now we just need tofound through luck or perseverance. hear what Shepard Fairey thinks. HeLike former Time magazine was on NPRs Fresh Air onphotojournalist Dirck Halstead inauguration day, before Mannielooking for days through his slides Garcia was identi ed - but well afterto nd a photograph of President the Reuters photo was found. YouClinton hugging Monica Lewinsky in can listen to the whole interviewa crowd of people that was shot well here (Fast forward to the 13 minutebefore the scandal broke. mark to hear just the photo part). Host Terry Gross asks him, "Im Also, in response to other wondering if youd like to give abloggers and angry emails that Im shout out to the photographertrying to somehow diminish Faireys whose image that came from?"work ("...are you saying Grant Wood 11
  12. 12. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENT Huf ngton Post knew it had spread virally so unwelcome endorsement or October 13, 2008 quickly that it seemed to be af liation. How the Obama "Hope" Poster everywhere within a matter of days. So I talked to Yosi about it andReached a Tipping Point and Most of my questions will he reached out to some people heBecame a Cultural Phenomenon: An examine how and why this knew. Interestingly, Hill HarperInterview With the Artist Shepard phenomenon caught on so quickly came to my art show in LA at theFairey and, in the vein of Malcolm beginning of December -- just about By Ben Arnon Gladwells The Tipping Point, who a month after Yosi and I spoke. Just were the Connectors and Mavens by the nature of my work and the http:// who helped fan the ames of this topics in my artwork, Hill asked mewww.huf viral phenomenon? who I was supporting. I said Obamaarnon/how-the-obama-hope- My rst question is simply how and I mentioned to Hill the sameposter_b_133874.html did the idea begin and at what point desire to do a poster. Hill said he did you, Shepard, and Yosi begin knew Obama personally and he The large majority of people working together? would look into it as well.reading this post have seen this Shepard Fairey (SF): I met Yosi I didnt want to act withoutimage before. This iconic image of a couple of times in the past but the permission and have it be seen asBarack Obama, adorned on posters, time we spoke about Obama was at undermining Obamas goals in anystickers, clothing and more, was an Adidas event at the end of way. Then Yosi nally got the go-created by Los Angeles-based, October 2007. Interestingly enough, ahead about two weeks beforecontemporary street artist Shepard we talked about Obama and I said Super Tuesday for me to do anFairey. This image has become a "Yeah, I dig Obama, hell probably image. I looked for an image that Ipop cultural phenomenon and an get crushed by the Clinton thought was a good image,important symbol in the political juggernaut but I dig him." Yosi was illustrated it in one day and had thelandscape of 2008 and beyond. How not as much of a pessimist as I was posters in production the next day. Idid this image spread virally so and he said it would be cool if I did sent the nal over to Yosi who saidquickly? Who was involved in something for [Obama]. Yosi "Looks great, lets roll with it." I hadmaking that happen? thought we could gure something screen-printed posters printed A couple of days ago, I spoke out. I said Id love to but in my past immediately, sold 350 and putwith Shepard and Yosi Sergant, the as an artist, Ive always worked as another 350 up on the street. Wemarketing/publicity guru who an outsider and Ive always decided used the money from selling the 350helped link Fairey to the Obama not to go through the bureaucracy. to then print up another 4,000campaign and who helped the My philosophy is usually if I want to posters that are the ones we gaveimage transcend from mere poster make things happen Ill just act rst out at those rallies you mentioned.into a phenomenon. Heres a and apologize later. It also went viral. As soon as Itranscript of the interview: But with this I actually knew posted it on my web site a lot of Ben Arnon (BA): The rst time I that Obamas support was probably people that go to my web site saw it.saw the "Hope" poster was at a going to be people who are fairly Yosi also blasted it out to a lot of hisGOTV (Get Out the Vote) rally I progressive and an endorsement contacts. It became very clearhelped organize in South Los from someone like me might not quickly that the demand for anAngeles on February 2nd, 2008, actually be a welcome endorsement image like that had not beenwhich was the Saturday before if it made Obama seem like the supplied and that the ObamaSuper Tuesday. I vividly remember a fringe, street-artist, radical types supporters were very hungry for itstudent volunteer from USC who were his supporters. I really wanted and also very motivated to spread it.stopped by the rally and handed out to help and I didnt want to be that I think what then happenedtons of posters. The next thing I was that there were a lot of people 12
  13. 13. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTwho were digging Obama but they the revenue from the rst 350 And I included my Obey stardidnt have any way to symbolically posters to get more printed for a full embedded in the Obama logo, not toshow their support. Once there was statewide campaign. At rst I was try to highjack Obamas credibilityan image that represented their just thinking California because as some people have said. Butsupport for Obama then that there was such a short amount of rather, because I know that mybecame their Facebook image or time left until Super Tuesday. But so hard-core collectors would feel thattheir email signature or something quickly we saw that the demand they had to buy the poster justthey use on their MySpace page. Or was there so we started shipping because it had an Obey logo.they printed out the image and the posters all over the country Therefore, I was more or less forcingmade their own little sign that they anywhere that hadnt had a caucus my audience to fund furthertaped up in their of ce. Once that or a primary yet. perpetuation of the image.exists it starts to perpetuate and it BA: Those initial posters -- the BA: Was the majority of yourreplicates itself. 350 to sell and 350 for the streets, audience that bought the original I think a perfect pop culture along with the 4,000 you sent print Los Angeles-based orexample of something like that is around to rallies -- did they all read nationwide?the Rolling Stones tongue logo. The "Progress" or were they a SF: De nitely nationwide. I hadtongue was a secondary logo on the combination of "Progress" and no idea that it would happen butback of the Sticky Fingers album, "Hope"? immediately after those prints werebut it was iconic and simple. Now SF: The rst 350 that went up sold out they were selling forits sort of undisputed as the Rolling on the street and those 350 that we $2,000-$6,000 on the Internet.Stones logo even though it was sold all said "Progress". Then Yosi BA: Yes, that was one of thenever created intentionally to be got feedback from the campaign incredible things about this imagethat. It found an audience and it saying they wanted to push the that stood out to me. I saw themanifested. "Hope" message so I switched it to posters originally on Saturday, Yosi and I did a show in Denver "Hope" for the next ones. February 2nd. The following day Iduring the DNC Convention called BA: With those rst 350 that helped organize volunteers at a bigManifest Hope and I think [the were sold, you were essentially rally at UCLA that featured Michelle"Hope" poster image] was symbolic seeding these posters with what Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Carolineof a lot of things including Hope and Malcolm Gladwell would call the Kennedy and others. And thereit just manifested. Connectors and Mavens. Who were were posters passed out there. these people? Also, did you sell all SF: The posters at that UCLA Shepard Fairey -- The Artist of these prints online or did you sell rally was all Yosi. I was in the some on the streets? hospital with my wife who was Yosi Sergant -- The Publicist SF: I sold them all through my about to have a baby. BA: Tell me more about that web site which gets a lot of traf c. I Yosi Sergant (YS): I was runninginitial run of 350 posters. gured Im making this image to up and down the aisles rolling up SF: Well, the way Im used to in uence my audience but then also posters and sticking them in thedoing things when I print up posters take the revenue to spread this stuff hands of people in the bleachersis I print some to sell and I print further. But the rst step was who would be in the camera shot.some to put up on the street. I fund getting it out to my audience. This is BA: Yes, I clearly rememberthe ones I put up on the street with how naive I was at the time about that. Then, within a matter of days,the ones I sell. That way the whole Obamas popularity. I actually I was hearing about these printsthing is paid for and Im lowered the price on the print selling on eBay for thousands ofperpetuating things on my own thinking that a lot of people might dollars. And friends of mineterms. I did that to get the ball be pessimistic about Obamas working on the campaignrolling and then I was going to use chances and it might not sell well. throughout the entire country had 13
  14. 14. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTthese posters already. There are SF: Yeah, there are store access to information very quickly.literally companies with large owners who want to put it in their Its bad in that a lot of thedistribution budgets that cannot window, people who put it in the information is bogus. For instance, Iachieve nationwide coverage as window of their homes, people who had already read rumors that I wasquickly as your posters did. It are willing to go out and post it up. pro ting big-time off of the Obamaspread so quickly and so virally. People will put it on a piece of image. Even though that wasntWas all of your distribution online cardboard and put it on a stake in valid, I was very cautious not to door was there an infrastructure set their front yard. Its pretty amazing anything that would even vaguelyup on the ground? I read on and I think all we did was we put it validate that argument. So I actuallyWikipedia that you have an into some of the right channels so ended up selling a lot of ne artinformal network of collaborators that the people who had that commissions of the Obama image towho replicate your designs. Is that willingness could get a hold of private collectors and using thatone of the ways you managed to them. money to print more posters ratherachieve such widespread BA: These hubs you describe than continuing to sell the posters.distribution in such a short period throughout the country -- were they Weve sold less than 2,000 postersof time? mainly street artists and Obama and have printed over 200,000 of SF: Thats actually not even supporters or were they also them. And weve printed 500,000true. Ive read that I have street coordinated through any of cial stickers.teams throughout the country to Obama campaign staff organizers? We did the same thing with theput up my posters. But that is YS: For example in stickers. We worked with a friend ofactually not true at all. However, Philadelphia, the main hub center mine who is a sticker printer andthere are a lot of people who are was a gentleman named Tayyib who is an Obama supporter. He soldreally excited about Obama and its Smith who has a magazine called sticker packs and used all of theunique. Its something that people 215. There are people in every city pro ts from the sticker packs toare willing to take the risk to do -- to who are much like Shep and myself. keep printing more stickers. It was ago out to put some posters on the They have large networks around really beautiful thing the way it allstreets. We sent posters to them, and as you mentioned earlier worked. People who could affordPhiladelphia and they got put up all about Malcolm Gladwell, these stickers bought them and for theover -- on abandoned buildings and people are the in uencers in each people who couldnt afford them,on street corners. Thats something town. There is a vast network of we just gave the stickers to dont normally see - that level people who talk to each other on BA: Ive seen the posters andof motivation in people to spread an the regular from city to city. We the stickers but Ive never seenimage. There are a lot of graf ti track events weve all done and we bicycle spoke cards though I haveartists who are motivated enough to look at whos doing good work in read that they exist. Were the bikespread their own work and their each town. We all pay attention to spoke cards only distributed inown name - Im one of them -- but each other and we know each certain cities? Also, has the imagethis is that unique case where all we others reach and capabilities. To taken any other form besideshad to do was make the materials nd out who would be the right hub posters, stickers, and bike spokeand disseminate them to some sort or distribution point in each city is cards?of hubs around the country and the literally two Google clicks away. SF: We did t-shirts through myrest of it pretty much took care of SF: The main thing was that we clothing line as well as throughitself. just needed to keep producing the Upper Playground. Theyve been YS: The one thing we have no posters because the demand was really helpful at perpetuating theshortage of is motivated people who high. You know, unfortunately the image. They printed up some shirtswant the poster and who want to Internet is both good and bad. Its and sweatshirts and donated thosespread it far and wide. good because a lot of people have to us to give out. They sold others 14
  15. 15. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTand put the money back into Im also going to Washington, BBC Newsmaking more stuff. When we did DC and Boston this month. I have 5 February 2009bus stop ads in Philadelphia, that legal walls in both cities already Copyright battle over Obamawas paid for with t-shirt money. reserved where Im going to do imageAnd Obey Clothing has done t-shirts murals that contain the Obamatoo that have been sold at retailers imagery. And Ill do my thing on the once again, that money has street also. americas/7872253.stmgone back into making more posters Thats the story about how oneand doing events like what we did image transcended from mere The Associated Press isat the DNC -- the Manifest Hope art poster into a cultural phenomenon claiming compensation for the useshow -- and were working on some and an important, iconic symbol of of one of its photographs to createother things as well. Barack Obamas Presidential the most iconic image of Barack YS: The bicycle spoke cards campaign. Obama.were supported and funded by the Please leave comments. Tell us The red, white and blue portraitpro ts of Shepards work. But we what the image symbolizes to you. by Shepard Fairey appeared onreached out to an artist named Also, tell us your story about the thousands of posters and T-shirtsMags, from New Orleans, who was rst time you saw this iconic image. and is now in Washingtonsdisplaced by Hurricane Katrina. She National Portrait Gallery.has been making beautiful artwork Lawyers for AP and Shepardon behalf of Barack Obama for a Fairey are reported to be holdinglong time. And we turned that into exactly the same Mr Faireys attorney says it wasthing. We sold bike spoke cards for a case of "fair use", which allowsa buck a piece and then used the exceptions to copyright ts to pay for the production. We Hoping for amicable solutionended up making 20,000 bike spokes The Los Angeles-based streetthat we distributed for free artist has acknowledged that thethroughout Oregon before their image is based on a photographPrimary. taken in April 2006 by Mannie BA: What are your plans for the Garcia, a photographer on nal weeks of the campaign? assignment for AP. SF: Were really trying to get APs director of media relationspeople to get out and vote. I actually Paul Colford says that because itjust did another illustration for the was an AP photograph, its use byObama campaign directly that is a Shepard Fairey "requiredportrait of Barack smiling and permission" and AP should havelooking very human and also very been credited.digni ed and Presidential. The "AP safeguards its assets andmessage on that image is simply looks at these events on a case-by-VOTE. Yesterday we did some viral case basis. We have reached out tovideo spots with a bunch of Mr Faireys attorney and are inmusicians and celebrities that were discussions. We hope for anpieces to encourage people to amicable solution," he Obama but also just to get However, Mr Faireys lawyer,out there and vote. Anthony Falzone, said: "Fair use 15
  16. 16. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTprotects Shepards right to do what Purpose of the use: was the New York Timeshe did here." image used in a commercial or non- February 9, 2009 Fair use commercial way? Artist Sues The A.P. Over Obama Fair use can, under certain Nature of the copyrighted Imagecircumstances, give the public a material: how creative or factual By Randy Kennedyright to copy an authors work for was the original?the purpose of criticism, parody, or Transformation of the work: use without permission. was the original changed giving it 2009/02/10/arts/design/10fair.html Georgetown University law new meaning or value?professor Rebecca Tushnet told the Amount copied: how much of In a pre-emptive strike, theBBC that while Mr Fairey clearly the original was copied and was it street artist Shepard Fairey led acopied the photograph, it could be central to the original? lawsuit on Monday against Theargued that what he took from it Effect on the market of the Associated Press, asking a federalwas the basic fact of Mr Obamas original: could it supplant demand judge to declare that he is protectedfeatures, which do not have a for the original? from copyright infringement claimscopyright. in his use of a news photograph as "If the case were to go to court, the basis for a now ubiquitousthe creative elements of the campaign poster image of Presidentphotograph would have to be Obama.established in the rst place," she The suit was led in federalsaid. court in Manhattan after The "Theres a lot of transformation Associated Press said it hadgoing on in Mr Faireys image, and determined that it owned thethe photograph was pretty factual, image, which Mr. Fairey used forso it could prove tricky for AP", she posters and stickers distributedsaid. grass-roots style last year during the Mr Fairey himself has not election campaign. The photo,commented on the alleged showing Mr. Obama at the Nationalcopyright infringement. Press Club in April 2006, was taken Speaking in an interview with for The A.P. by a freelancethe BBC World Service before the photographer, Mannie Garcia.copyright row erupted, he said he According to the suit, A.P.was more accustomed to making of cials contacted Mr. Fairey’snegative posters of politicians, but studio late last month demandingwas inspired to create a positive payment for the use of the photoimage of Barack Obama when he and a portion of any money heheard him speak at the 2004 makes from it.Democratic National Convention. Mr. Fairey’s lawyers, including He was once arrested for Anthony T. Falzone, the executive yposting the image. director of the Fair Use Project and a "Being in the National Portrait law lecturer at Stanford University,Gallery feels like a pretty big coup," contend in the suit that Mr. Faireyhe said. used the photograph only as a reference and transformed it into a FAIR USE IN US LAW - KEY “stunning, abstracted and idealizedQUESTIONS visual image that created powerful 16
  17. 17. SHEPARD FAIREY RESPONSIBLE DELINQUENTnew meaning and conveys a welcomed it but never of cially The A.P. at the time. In a telephoneradically different message” from adopted it because of copyright interview on Monday, Mr. Garciathat of the shot Mr. Garcia took. concerns. Before the election, Mr. said he was unsure how he would The suit asks the judge to Fairey was best known for his fake- proceed now that the matter haddeclare that Mr. Fairey’s work is advertising stickers and posters, landed in court. But he said he wasprotected under fair-use exceptions pasted in cities across the country, very happy when he found out thatto copyright law, which allow showing an ominous, abstracted his photo was the source of thelimited use of copyrighted materials image of the wrestler Andre the poster image and that he still is.for purposes like criticism or Giant along with the word “Obey.” “I don’t condone people takingcomment. Mr. Fairey is the focus of a things, just because they can, off “Fairey did not do anything retrospective that opened last week the Internet,” Mr. Garcia said. “Butwrong,” said Julie A. Ahrens, at the Institute of Contemporary Art in this case I think it’s a very uniqueassociate director of the Fair Use in Boston. (In a development that situation.”Project and another of Mr. Fairey’s was not much of a surprise, he was He added, “If you put all thelawyers, in a statement on Monday. arrested there on Friday, accused of legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the“He should not have to put up with illegally pasting his work in places photograph and that Fairey didmisguided threats from The A.P.” around Boston; he has pleaded not what he did artistically with it, andPaul Colford, a spokesman for The guilty.) A collaged work made by Mr. the effect it’s had.”A.P., said on Monday that the Fairey based on his Obama poster This article has been revised toagency was “disappointed by the was acquired last month by the re ect the following correction:surprise ling by Shepard Fairey and National Portrait Gallery in Correction: February 12, 2009his company and by Mr. Fairey’s Washington, part of the An article on Tuesday about afailure to recognize the rights of Smithsonian Institution, and placed dispute between The Associatedphotographers in their works.” in its permanent collection. Press and the artist Shepard Fairey He added: “A.P. was in the After Mr. Obama’s victory, over his Barack Obama poster,middle of settlement discussions speculation increased about which which was based on a photographwith Mr. Fairey’s attorney last week picture had served as the basis for taken for The A.P., misstated a titlein order to resolve this amicably and Mr. Fairey’s posters. In interviews of one of Mr. Fairey’s lawyers, whomade it clear that a settlement the artist said that it was one he teaches at the Stanford Universitywould bene t the A.P. Emergency had found on the Internet. Bloggers, Law School and is executive directorRelief Fund, a charitable fund that including the Manhattan gallery of the Fair Use Project there. Thesupports A.P. journalists around the owner James Danziger, pursued lawyer, Anthony T. Falzone, is aworld who suffer personal loss from several leads until, according to the lecturer at the law school, not anatural disasters and con icts.” lawsuit, Tom Gralish, a Pulitzer professor. Mr. Fairey, 38, has become one Prize-winning photographer for Theof the most visible practitioners of a Philadelphia Inquirer, helped trackguerrilla-style art that has grown down a photo by Mr. Garcia thatout of the graf ti scene but has showed Mr. Obama sitting besideexpanded beyond paint to include a the actor George Clooney at a 2006wide variety of techniques and event about Darfur at the Nationalmaterials, producing works usually Press Club.displayed illegally on buildings and Further complicating thesigns. dispute, Mr. Garcia contends that Mr. Fairey decided to create the he, not The Associated Press, ownsimage on his own before contacting the copyright for the photo,the Obama campaign, which according to his contract with the 17