Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Do you know who Shepard Fairey is?

You probably don't know his name but you may recognize this:



and if not you will definitely recognize this:



and soon you will recognize this:



I'm not sure how it is in other cities but if you travel anywhere in Los Angeles you will eventually see Andre The Giant [first pic]. He's not as prominent as he was a few years ago attached to freeways, plastered on buildings and anything that stood still but he's still around. I thought for a long time it was a band, then it just became this thing around town, eventually you don't think much about it with the exception of "oh hey, there's another one", It's like an old friend.

When Obama's Hope and Change posters began popping up I thought to myself g*d dammmm that is some good f*in' graphics. The type on those posters is impeccable. He is one smart cookie for hiring someone to do a young hip graphic for him. And then Shepard's name came up and then I put it all together. or so I thought

I heard an interview with Shepard last week. Turns out, he just made the posters because he liked the guy. He managed to get a super low-level campaign person to quietly approve the use of his image but it was more like "we'll, we're not really apart of it, but we like your work". And, it turns out old Andre and Obama ended up having a similar wide-swept path. If I heard the story right, he offered the "change and hope" graphics on his website for people to print and put up as they saw fit and a unparalleled Viral Campaign was born. Obama's team soon realized that there was something to this artist and the rest is history. They of course asked him to do the inauguration poster pictured here and apparently the Smithsonian has snapped up a few posters to add to the beginning of The Obama Collection.

I'm late to this band wagon really, but I'm obsessed with Shepard's work at the moment. I'm more obsessed at how he turned this propaganda imagery that he loves so much into his "thing" and how we all respond to good graphics. This is my explanation of course. His is much more thought out and detailed. So I'll leave you with his message. BTW look for his work turning up at Saks Fifth Ave this spring. He's responsible for their new campaign.

Here is an excerpt from his Facebook fan page:

The FIRST AIM OF PHENOMENOLOGY is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one's environment. The OBEY sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer's perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because OBEY has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.

Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The PARANOID OR CONSERVATIVE VIEWER however may be confused by the sticker's persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily.

1 comment:

Bruno said...

Better check out this page before you fall in love with Shepard Fairey:
http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm
I enjoyed seeing your design work though. Found you by searching Reid Miles, a former competitor.