Everything Shepard Fairey

It seems like Shepard Fairey is everywhere lately, so I thought I’d post a summary of all that’s been going on and the relevant links.

Shepard Fairey at the ICA Boston. Photo by christianrholland
Shepard Fairey at the ICA Boston. Photo by christianrholland
  • To start, Shepard Fairey was arrested on Friday as he entering a party for his show which opened last week at The ICA Boston. Warrents for his arrested dated as far back as 2000. Has Posterboy started a trend of police arresting street artists at their own shows? Maybe it’s time to go back to secret identities. The irony of the whole situation is that just hours previous to his arrest, Shepard Fairey was unveiling a mural outside of Boston’s city hall and shaking the mayor’s hand. Odd that the cops didn’t show up to that event… Though Shepard Fairey is has questioned the “motivation and timing” of his arrest, I’d say with all that Fairey knows about advertising, it’s just as likely he called up the police himself and left an anonymous tip of his whereabouts. After all, this news even hit The Guardian here in London. Sounds like great publicity to me. Oh, and apparently he’s pled “not guilty!” I guess he can always claim that his poster crews did the pasting, which is probably the case for most of the work he’s in trouble for.
  • The Associated Press is complaining about copyright infringement because Fairey used a photograph of theirs as the basis for his “Hope” poster (be aware, the article linked to is actually written by the AP).
  • Fairey is preempting a lawsuit from the AP by instead suing them himself and asking a judge to just admit that his Obama posters are transformative and “fair use.” (some interesting and well articulated thoughts on the reprecutions of these two stories at Just Seeds)
  • And this leads us to the whole “is Fairey a legit artist or just a thieving sell-out” debate. I wrote about this last week in a post called “Is Shepard Fairey a Plagiarizing Half-Wit?” and asked readers to respond with their own opinions. Well I got plenty of responses both on the blog and on Twitter. I’d encourage you to read the comment thread, but here are a few highlights:
    * “The bigger you get the more people want to take you out. It is what it is….who’s going to be remembered? Shepard or the critic?” – Astrogirl
    * “this idea that he is subverting consumerism with the OBEY series somewhat falls on its face when the images end up creating an OBEY brand or being sold as bags and T-shirts purely because they feature the logo. If it ever was a subversive act, the OBEY stuff has now clearly become a brand displayed (and of course marketed) for its own sake.” – Spoons
    * “I consider Fairey’s work to be along the lines of early Hip Hop producers. ‘Sampling is not a crime’.” – Facet
  • Various people, commenter Rolf Harris and Just Seeds in particular, have sent me new links on the top of criticism of Fairey’s work:
    * More on Fairey’s supposed plagarism, perhaps a more fair appraisal
    * Supertouch, a blog which Fairey is associated with, defends him against claims of plagiarism
    * It seems that last year, Fairey almost sued another artist for making parodies of Fairey’s images.
    * As briefly mentioned in my last post on Fairey, he’s recently designed an advertising campaign for Saks 5th Avenue called “Want It!”. Seem a bit at odds with his public persona, but I guess it’s too late for anybody in the art establishment to care…

Photo from christianrholland