Frank Shepard Fairey was born on Feb 15, 1970 and was raised in Charleston South Carolina. Shepard Fairey is a graphic designer, political artists, and is known for stenciling. He is best known for his obey wheat paste campaign. He is also known for the Obama “hope” posters. Shepard became very intrigued by art in 1984 when he began to draw on skateboard decks and t-shirts. He decided to pursue a career in art and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.
In 1989 Shepard Fairey created a campaign (the first major campaign of his career) titled “Andre the Giant Has a Posse”. This campaign was done while he was studying in the Rhode Island school of Design as a class project. He created stickers with the face of famous wrestler Andre the Giant that were famous in the skate community and widely used by skaters in the area. The stickers became famous and started to appear in numerous cities throughout the United States of America. Fairey did this project as kind of an experiment in phenomenology. Fairey then began to alter the image of Andre which in turn led to the “Obey Giant” campaign. This campaign was also at fault for the threat of Shepard Fairey being brought to court on a lawsuit because the image he used was a copyrighted image. The lawsuit was brought on by the Titan Sports Inc.
As a result of the “Andre the Giant” campaign the “Obey” campaign was born. This campaign was probably the most famous and valuable one of his career. This campaign was most effective because collaborators copied his image for the campaign and began posting them in their cities. From this campaign whole clothing line was formed. The clothing consisted of the original campaign graphic as well as other graphics composed by Shepard.
Another one of Faireys famous works was the “Hope” poster done for Barack Obama. This was the poster that is most widely known in the United States. When the 2008 election was happening Shepard created this poster to assist the democratic candidate and current president Obama. He distributed about 300,000 stickers and 500,000 posters across the United States with the famous Obama graphic reading “Hope”. The original poster had the word “Progress” instead of Hope, the campaign asked that he change the word to “hope” in attempt to make the image more powerful.
Throughout his career Shepard Fairey was accused of plagiarism numerous times, but the most emphasized one was the one concerning the “Hope” Poster. In 2009 the “Associated Press” claimed that the image used for the hope poster was a copyrighted photograph taken by Mannie Garcia. Mannie Garcia wanted credit and compensation for this work and brought about a lawsuit against Shepard Fairey. Fairey’s argument was that he altered the image enough to fall under the “Fair Use” doctrine. In October 2009 Shepard admitted to destroying evidence, and stealing the copyrighted image. His lawyers stopped representing him and he lost the case.
Shepard Fairey is not only a graphic designer but he is now a Dj and an Emcee. He goes by the name DJ Diabetic in the Disk Jockey realm and Emcee Insulin in the Rap world. He can be found DJ’ing in many clubs around the world. His name was born from the fact that he is a diabetic. Fairey also is in a non-profit organization and donates art supplies to schools in need. He also appeared in the video game by Marc Ecko titled “Marc Eckos: Getting Up” as a graffiti legend.
In my opinion Shepard Fairey cannot be considered an artist because of the simple fact that he plagiarized some of his work. Artwork is something that should be original and Shepard Fairey just doesn’t fall under this category. During my research of this artist and finding out what I did, I have lost a lot of respect for him and I don’t think I will be supporting him anymore.
icaboston. 2005. 2009 .
obey giant. Ed. shepard Fairey. 2003. 2009 .
Wikipedia. 2009. 2009 .