Shepard Fairey, still a street artist despite major success

Shepard Fairey of Obey fame remains a committed political street artist even as his fine art sells for five figures now. I find this inspiring. His work still have edge, still afflict the comfortable. The street art posters are bold, stark, with a clear message, which is precisely how street art should be. It needs to grab you and make its point within in few seconds. His fine art, like a mixed media of Joan Jett, can be more nuanced. A new series uses block foil and screen-printed metallics.

It’s that dichotomy that’s really important to me. The name of the series is “Power & Glory,” and it’s about how certain symbols, industries, aspirations can be a double-edged sword. The American flag is a very malleable symbol; it means a lot of different things. I’m looking at it to say it can be good or bad; at all the triumphs and failures of the American dream that it might connote.

Artsy has a detailed mini-site featuring 118 of Fairey’s pieces, with bio, interview, and more. It has an intuitive, powerful interface that lets you easily follow artists, types of art, museums. For example, I’m now following Street Art, as well as Raymond Pettibon and Fairey. Also, check, be sure to check out Fairey’s Obey Giant site.

Without trepidation, Fairey makes his stances clear, ones that haven’t wavered since the late ’80s when he first confronted the world with now-ubiquitous images of Andre the Giant. Through 16+ arrests for vandalism and a grueling legal battle with the Associated Press after his Barack Obama “Hope” poster became the emblem of the 2008 presidential campaign, Fairey perseveres, and to listen to him describe a new body of work, which hijacks the American flag, he finds no threat in controversy.


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