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Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey
Born Frank Shepard Fairey
(1970-02-15) February 15, 1970
Charleston, South Carolina
Education Rhode Island School of Design
Known for Public art, Stenciling
Notable work Andre the Giant Has a Posse
Obey Giant
Rock the Vote
OBEY (clothing)
Spouse(s) Amanda Fairey
Awards Brit Insurance Design Awards Design of the Year[1]
AS220 Free Culture Award[2]

Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970) is an American contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator and founder of OBEY (clothing) who emerged from the skateboarding scene.[3] He first became known for his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" (…OBEY…) sticker campaign while attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News.

He became widely known during the [6]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • The Hope poster 2.1
    • The Mandela mural 2.2
    • Honest Gil Fulbright 2.3
  • Activism and Humanitarianism 3
  • Legal issues with appropriation and fair use 4
  • Critical response 5
  • Exhibitions 6
    • Selected solo exhibitions 6.1
    • Selected group exhibitions 6.2
  • Appearances in other media 7
  • Personal life 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12

Early life

Shepard Fairey was born and raised in Charleston, South Carolina. His father, Strait Fairey, is a doctor, and his mother, Charlotte, a realtor.[7] He attended Wando High School.[8] Fairey became involved with art in 1984, when he started to place his drawings on skateboards and T-shirts.[9][10]

In 1988 he graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy in California. In 1992 he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design.[11]


Fairey's first art museum exhibition, entitled Supply & Demand (as was his earlier book), was held in Boston at the [6]

Shepard Fairey

Fairey sits on the advisory board of Reaching to Embrace the Arts, a Iraq Veterans Against the War.

In 2008 Fairey teamed up again with Z-Trip to do a series of shows in support of then presidential candidate Barack Obama entitled Party For Change. Fairey also designed posters for the British goth band Bauhaus.

In September 2008, Shepard opened his solo show titled "Duality of Humanity" at The Shooting Gallery in San Francisco.[25] His third solo show with the gallery featured one hundred and fifty works, including the largest collection of canvases pieces in one show that he's done.

Fairey was arrested on February 7, 2009, on his way to the premiere of his show at the Institute of Contemporary Art[26] in Boston, Massachusetts, on two outstanding warrants related to graffiti. He was charged with damage to property for having postered two Boston area locations with graffiti, a Boston Police Department spokesman said.[27] His arrest was announced to party goers by longtime friend Z-Trip who had been performing at the ICA premiere at Shepard Fairey's request.

On April 27, 2009, Fairey put three signed copies of his Obama inauguration posters up on eBay, with the proceeds of the auction going to the One Love For Chi foundation, founded by the family of Deftones bassist Chi Cheng following a car accident in November 2008 that nearly claimed Cheng's life.[28]

Lance Armstrong rode a Trek Madone styled by Fairey in the 2009 Giro d'Italia, starting on May 9, 2009, in Venice, Italy.[29]

In 2011 Time Magazine commissioned Fairey to design its cover to honor "The Protester" as Person of the Year in the wake of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street and other social movements around the world.[30] This was Fairey's second Person of the Year cover for Time, his first being of Barack Obama in 2008.

In January 2015, Shepard Fairey made a cameo appearance on Portlandia.[31] In July 2015, Fairey was arrested and detained at Los Angeles International Airport, after passing through customs, on a warrant for allegedly vandalizing 14 buildings in Detroit.[32] He subsequently turned himself in to Detroit Police.[33]

On September 17, 2015, the Jacob Lewis Gallery presented Shepard Fairey’s exhibition “On Our Hands,” his first solo opening in New York City in five years. The paintings reflect on contemporary issues facing our global community: political corruption, environmental apathy and abuse of power. The exhibition coincides with Fairey’s new monograph Covert to Overt, published by Rizzoli.[34]

The Hope poster

Fairey created a series of posters supporting Barack Obama's 2008 candidacy for President of the United States, including the iconic "HOPE" portrait.[35][36] The New Yorker art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster "the most efficacious American political illustration since 'Uncle Sam Wants You'".[37][38] Fairey also created an exclusive design for Rock the Vote. Because the Hope poster had been "perpetuated illegally" and independently by the street artist, the Obama campaign declined to have any direct affiliation with it.[39] Although the campaign officially disavowed any involvement in the creation or popularization of the poster, Fairey has commented in interviews that he was in communication with campaign officials during the period immediately following the poster's release. Fairey has stated that the original version featured the word "PROGRESS" instead of the word "HOPE", and that within weeks of its release, the campaign requested that he issue (and legally disseminate) a new version, keeping the powerful image of Obama's face but captioning it with the word "HOPE".[40] The campaign openly embraced the revised poster along with two additional Fairey posters that featured the words "CHANGE" and "VOTE".

Fairey distributed 300,000 stickers and 500,000 posters during the campaign, funding his grassroots electioneering through poster and fine art sales.[40] "I just put all that money back into making more stuff, so I didn't keep any of the Obama money", explained Fairey in December 2009.[39]

In February 2008, Fairey received a letter of thanks from Obama for his contribution to the campaign.[41] The letter stated:

I would like to thank you for using your talent in support of my campaign. The political messages involved in your work have encouraged Americans to believe they can change the status-quo. Your images have a profound effect on people, whether seen in a gallery or on a stop sign. I am privileged to be a part of your artwork and proud to have your support. I wish you continued success and creativity.– Barack Obama, February 22, 2008[42]

On November 5, 2008, Chicago posted banners throughout the downtown business district featuring Fairey's Obama "HOPE" portrait.[43]

Fairey created a similar but new image of Barack Obama for Time magazine, which was used as the cover art for the 2008 Person of the Year issue.[44] The original iconic "HOPE" portrait was featured on the cover of Esquire Magazine's February 2009 issue, this time with a caption reading, "WHAT NOW?" Shepard Fairey's influence throughout the presidential election was a factor in the artist himself having been named a Person of the Year for 2008 by GQ.

In January 2009, the "HOPE" portrait was acquired by the U.S. National Portrait Gallery and made part of its permanent collection.[45] It was unveiled and put on display on January 17, 2009.[46]

In 2009 Fairey's Obama portrait was featured in the book Art For Obama: Designing Manifest Hope and the Campaign for Change, which Fairey also edited.[47][48]

In his December 8, 2010 appearance on The Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert asked Fairey how he felt about having done the "HOPE" portrait of Obama and how "that hope was working out for him now?" to which Fairey replied: "You know, I'm proud of it as a piece of grassroots activism, but I'll just leave it at that". In 2015, asked Fairey if Obama's presidency lived up to the poster, to which he replied, "Not even close." [49]

Mandela by Shepard Fairey Mural

Fairey created a mutt version of the red, white, and blue poster, donating it to help support pet adoptions, from an image of a rescued shaggy dog taken by photographer

  • Obey Giant Website
  • Shepard Fairey on National Public Radio in 2009
  • Shepard Fairey on National Public Radio in 2008
  • Interview on Huffington Post
  • Interview with Manuel Bello
  • Example/Selected Artworks By Shepard Fairey
  • Short Film of Shepard Fairey Working In His Studio (Watch)

External links

  • Shepard Fairey Inc. Artist/Professional/Vandal by James Daichendt, Cameron + Company;(December, 2013)
  • Mayday: The Art of Shepard Fairey Gingko Press; First edition (December 10, 2010)
  • E Pluribus Venom by Shepard Fairey (2008) Gingko Press.
  • Philosophy of Obey (Obey Giant): The Formative Years (1989–2008), edited by Sarah Jaye Williams (2008), Nerve Books UK.
  • Obey: Supply & Demand, The Art of Shepard Fairey by Shepard Fairey (2006), Gingko Press.
  • Beautiful Losers (film)
  • "Shepard Fairey in arte Obey. La vita e le opere del re della poster art" di Sabina de Gregori, Castelvecchi editore, 2011

Further reading

  1. ^ "Shepard Fairey wins Design of the Year". Dezeen Magazine. Retrieved 15 November 2013. 
  2. ^ "AS220 Free Culture Award 2010". AS220 Free Culture Award 2010. 
  3. ^ Zittoun, Tania, Transitions: Symbolic Resources in Development, IAP, 2006, p168. ISBN 1-59311-226-2
  4. ^ Upcoming Exhibitions, SHEPARD FAIREY, The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston
  5. ^ "Local woman’s grandson behind the Obama “Hope” poster ", Independent, South Carolina
  6. ^ a b
  7. ^ Dottie Ashley, [Artist still challenges the status quo], The Post and Courier, August 22, 2010. Retrieved December 23, 2010.
  8. ^ "Charleston City Paper". Obey Giant. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  9. ^ a b c Rogers, John (January 15, 2009). "Hope: Street arftist Shepard Fairey's star rises". Boulder, CO: Archived from the original on February 14, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  10. ^ Booth, William (May 18, 2008). "Obama's On-the-Wall Endorsement". The Washington Post (Los Angeles). pp. M01. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  11. ^ "ICON MAKER SHEPARD FAIREY". Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  12. ^ "About us". Reaching to Embrace the Arts. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  13. ^ "Meet the Board". Music Is Revolution Foundation. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 
  14. ^ Steven Heller, Véronique Vienne, Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, Allworth Communications Inc., 2003, p223. ISBN 1-58115-265-5
  15. ^ Ian Noble, Picture Perfect: Fusions of Illustration & Design, Rotovision, 2003, pp 128–129. ISBN 2-88046-754-3
  16. ^ Steven Heller. "Interview with Shepard Fairey: Still Obeying After all These Years". 
  17. ^ Steven Heller, Véronique Vienne, Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, Allworth Communications Inc., 2003, p224. ISBN 1-58115-265-5
  18. ^ "Shepard Fairey". 
  19. ^ "Artist Biographies". 
  20. ^ a b Steven Heller, Véronique Vienne, Citizen Designer: Perspectives on Design Responsibility, Allworth Communications Inc., 2003, p225. ISBN 1-58115-265-5
  21. ^ a b
  22. ^ "THE SMASHING PUMPKINS TEAM WITH SHEPARD FAIREY FOR 'ZEITGEIST' COVER". Obey Giant. May 23, 2007. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  23. ^ "The philosophy of Obey", Retrieved July 16, 2008.
  24. ^ Genocchio, Benjamin (June 29, 2007). "'E PLURIBUS VENOM'". New York Times. p. 24. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  25. ^ Ryzik, Melena (October 1, 2008). "The Street Artist Shepard Fairey Moves Closer to the Mainstream but Is Still Rebellious". New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  26. ^ "Timing questioned by artist in arrests". Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. 
  27. ^ "Shepard Arrested in Boston". WCVB Boston. February 7, 2009. Retrieved February 7, 2009. 
  28. ^ "Shepard Fairey Donates Signed Prints…". April 27, 2009. Retrieved April 27, 2009. 
  29. ^ Lance Armstrong Races Ahead With Shepard Fairey Designed Bike
  30. ^ O'Shea, Chris. "Time's Person of the Year: The Protester". Fishbowl. Retrieved December 14, 2011. 
  31. ^
  32. ^ Greer, Carlos (2015-07-12). "Obama ‘Hope’ poster artist jailed for graffiti ‘vandalism’". New York Post (NYP Holdings, Inc). Retrieved 2015-07-13. 
  33. ^ McDermon, Daniel (14 July 2015). "Shepard Fairey Turns Himself In to Detroit Police". Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  34. ^ "In His First New York Show in Five Years, Shepard Fairey is Still Questioning Everything". New York Times. Retrieved August 20, 2015. 
  35. ^ Beer, Jeff (January 30, 2008). "Shepard Fairey: Obey Obama. The designer's endorsement as a striking poster series". Creativity Online. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  36. ^ Booth, William (May 18, 2008). "Obama's On-the-Wall Endorsement". The Washington Post (LOS ANGELES). pp. M01. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  37. ^ Schjeldahl, Peter (February 23, 2008). "Hope and Glory: A Shepard Fairey moment". The New Yorker. Retrieved March 1, 2009. 
  38. ^ Fairey's official site
  39. ^ a b "Shepard Fairey: Purveyor of Hope".  
  40. ^ a b Wortham, Jenna (September 21, 2008). Obey' Street Artist Churns Out 'Hope' for Obama"'". Wired. Retrieved January 17, 2009. 
  41. ^ Igor Kossov (March 11, 2009). "AP Countersues Fairey For HOPE Poster". Political Hotsheet (CBS News). Retrieved March 14, 2011. Obama sent Fairey a thank-you letter in February 2008, saying: ... 
  42. ^ "Thank You, from Barack Obama!". February 22, 2008. Retrieved March 14, 2011. 
  43. ^ City Hall reacts to Obama win, ABC WLS-TV, November 5, 2008
  44. ^ "TIME Magazine Person of the Year 2008". Time. December 14, 2008. Retrieved December 14, 2008. 
  45. ^ "Gallery gets iconic Obama image". BBC. January 8, 2009. Retrieved January 8, 2009. 
  46. ^ "Now on View: Portrait of Barack Obama by Shepard Fairey". January 17, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  47. ^ LA Weekly
  48. ^
  49. ^ Esquire
  50. ^ ‘’Ohmidog!’’ magazine, “Obama poster artist does one for the dogs.” February 6, 2009
  51. ^ Cover, ‘’Dogs Life’’ magazine, Spring 2009
  52. ^ Shepard Fairey on the Future of Political Art and Whether Obama Lived Up to His 'Hope' Poster
  53. ^
  54. ^
  55. ^ "Shepard Fairey on Jail, Anonymity and David Bowie". Paper Magazine. Retrieved May 19, 2014. 
  56. ^ "Shepard Fairey: the Whitehot Interview". Whitehot Magazine. Retrieved December 2010. 
  57. ^ "Olivia Wilde Gets the Shepard Fiarey Treatment". PUBLICATION. Retrieved May 25, 2010. 
  58. ^ "Shepard Fairey, Give to Cure". Give to Cure. 
  59. ^ "Cure by Shepard Fairey – Signed and Numbered Screen Prints Available". JRDF. Retrieved January 11, 2012. 
  60. ^ "Global Artist Shepard Fairey Makes Diabetes Visible". Greer’s OC. Retrieved June 6, 2013. 
  61. ^ "Mandala Ornament by Shepard Fairey Donated to Art for Life". Alpha Omega Arts. Retrieved August 9, 2011. 
  62. ^ "Shepard Fairey Makes Aung San Suu Kyi Film Poster". BBC. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  63. ^ "Shepard Fairey on Art for Social Change, Immigration Reform and Befriendging the Subcomandante of the Revolutionary Zapatistas". Remezcla. Retrieved August 7, 2013. 
  64. ^ "Shepard Fairey Interview". David Lynch Foundation Television. Retrieved April 2009. 
  65. ^ "Introducing David Lynch Foundation’s New Venture – DLF Music". Music Media. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  66. ^ "The David Lynch Tribute Show was Stolen by…Duran Duran?". LA Weekly. Retrieved April 2, 2015. 
  67. ^ "Celebs Team Up with Artist Shepard Fairey for Lesbian and Gay Marriage Equality". She Wired. Retrieved November 13, 2009. 
  68. ^ "Shepard Fairey Puts Services Up for Auction". LA Times. Retrieved February 25, 2010. 
  69. ^ "Why Shepard Fairey and PUSH Will Be Painting Outside Art of Elysium Gala". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 5, 2014. 
  70. ^ "Shepard Fairey’s Feeding America Artwork Inspires Nationwide Outdoor PSA with The Advertising Council". Feeding America. Retrieved May 17, 2010. 
  71. ^ "Because Even Our Libraries Are Cool: Shepard Fairey Joins LA’s Young Literati in Supporting the LAPL". LAist. Retrieved April 20, 2011. 
  72. ^ "Raise Your Glass for Libraries at the Young Literati Seventh Annual Toast". Retrieved March 4, 2015. 
  73. ^ "ARTWALK NY Raises Over $880,000". Coalition for the Homeless. Retrieved December 13, 2011. 
  74. ^ "Shepard Fairey Wants the World to Know That #ArtsMatter in Our Schools". Take Part. Retrieved July 23, 2013. 
  75. ^ "Shepard Fairey Among Artists to Design Rugs for Charity Auction". Look to the Stars. Retrieved May 14, 2015. 
  76. ^ "Shepard Fairey pays tribute to Ai Weiwei with new portrait". LA Times. Retrieved March 19, 2014. 
  77. ^ "Ai Weiwei granted six-month UK visa by home secretary". BBC News. Retrieved July 31, 2015. 
  78. ^ The artist Mark Vallen posted an essay criticizing this practice, along with multiple examples.
  79. ^ How phony is Shepard Fairey?, Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe, February 2, 2009.
  80. ^ Vallen, Mark (December 2007). "Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey". Art For a Change. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  81. ^ Obey My Lawyers, Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe, February 2, 2009
  82. ^ Artist Cage Match: Fairey vs. Orr, Richard Whittaker, The Austin Chronicle, May 13, 2008.
  83. ^ Artist, AP Disagree Over Photo Credit, Payment, Morning Edition, National Public Radio, February 5, 2009
  84. ^ Kennedy, Randy (February 10, 2009). "Artist Sues The A.P. Over Obama Image". The New York Times. Retrieved February 10, 2009. 
  85. ^ Dave Itzkoff (February 5, 2009). "A.P. Says It Owns Image Used in Obama Poster".  
  86. ^ Fisher III, William W.; Frank Cost, Shepard Fairey, Meir Feder, Edwin Fountain, Geoffrey Stewart & Marita Sturken (Spring 2012). "Reflections on the Hope Poster Case" (PDF). Harvard Journal of Law and Technology 25 (2). Retrieved 21 January 2013. 
  87. ^ "AP alleges copyright infringement of Obama image". 
  88. ^ Itzkoff, Dave (February 9, 2009). "Shepard Fairey Sues Associated Press Over Obama Poster". The New York Times. Retrieved February 9, 2009.  The case is Shepard Fairey; Obey Giant Art Inc. v. The Associated Press, No. 09-CV-1123, S.D.N.Y..
  89. ^ Italie, Hillel; Mandak, Joe. "Shepard Fairey Admits Faking Evidence In AP Case" Huffington Post 2009-10-16. Retrieved October 18, 2009.
  90. ^ "Artist admits he used key AP photo for 'HOPE' poster". USA Today. October 17, 2009. 
  91. ^ "NY Judge Urges Settlement In Obama Poster Dispute". May 28, 2010. 
  92. ^ "AP And Shepard Fairey Settle Lawsuit Over Obama Image; Fairey Agrees To Give Up Fair Use Rights To AP Photos". January 12, 2011. 
  93. ^ "Shepard Fairey, creator of Barack Obama 'Hope' poster, admits destroying evidence". The Telegraph. February 25, 2012. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  94. ^ Weiser, Benjamin (February 24, 2012). "Shepard Fairey Pleads Guilty Over Obama 'Hope' Image". ArtsBeat. Retrieved 2012-02-25. 
  95. ^ Neumeister, Larry (September 7, 2012). "Obama 'HOPE' poster artist gets probation". AP. AP. 
  96. ^ O'Donoghue, Liam (June 14, 2008). "Shepard Fairey's Image Problem". Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  97. ^ Interview:Shepard Fairey (March/April 2008). Interview with Liam O'Donoghue. Mother Jones. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  98. ^ Erick Lyle in Josh MacPhee, Erik Reuland, Realizing the Impossible: Art Against Authority, AK Press, 2007, p87. ISBN 1-904859-32-1
  99. ^ Pincus, Robert L. (December 30, 2007). "Social ferment not always reflected in fermentation of artworks". Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  100. ^ Mount, Nick (September 2008). "The Renaissance of Cute, issue 2008.09". Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  101. ^ Heller, Steven (February 15, 2008). "Beyond Red, White and Blue". New York Times / Campaign Stops. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  102. ^ Genocchio, Benjamin (art critic) (June 29, 2007). E PLURIBUS VENOM' review"'". New York Times. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  103. ^ Ryzik, Melena (October 1, 2008). "The Street Artist Shepard Fairey Moves Closer to the Mainstream but Is Still Rebellious". New York Times. p. 1. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  104. ^ Vallen, Mark (December 1, 2007). "Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey". Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  105. ^ "Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey". Retrieved 2013-10-29. 
  106. ^ O'Shea, Jamie (February 2, 2008). "THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE: SHEPARD FAIREY AND THE ART OF APPROPRIATION". Retrieved March 1, 2009. 
  107. ^ Sherwin, Brian (February 2, 2008). "Jamie O'Shea Obeys Shepard Fairey by Taking Jabs at Mark Vallen. Myartspace". Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  108. ^ Wasserman, Dan (February 2, 2008). "How phony is Shepard Fairey? Boston Globe's Out of Line". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 30, 2009. 
  109. ^ Eric Wilson (January 7, 2009). "Consumers of the World Unite". New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2009. 
  110. ^ Reyhan Harmanci (March 30, 2006). "VISUAL ARTS OBEY YOUR MUSE-". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  111. ^ a b Eriksen, Lars; Xan Brooks, Dominic Rushe (August 12, 2011). "Shepard Fairey beaten up after spat over controversial Danish mural". The Guardian (London: Guardian News and Media Limited). Retrieved August 16, 2011. 
  112. ^ Mike Boehm (July 6, 2010). "Google celebrates Frida Kahlo's 103rd birthday by doctoring its logo – and her self-portrait". Los Angeles Times. 
  113. ^ "Spreading The Hope: Street Artist Shepard Fairey". Fresh Air (NPR). January 20, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 
  114. ^ "Shepard Fairey: Inspiration Or Infringement?". NPR. 
  115. ^ David Ross Interview., February 11, 2010
  116. ^ "Stephen Colbert and Shepard Fairey Collaborate on Olympic Poster" Huffington Post, February 12, 2010
  117. ^ "To please Steve Martin, Colbert updates a portrait". Associated Press via Google. December 9, 2010. Archived from the original on December 9, 2010. 
  118. ^ "Stephen Colbert talks art with Steve Martin, with help from Shepard Fairey et al". Los Angeles Times. December 9, 2010. 
  119. ^
  120. ^
  121. ^ Edgers, Geoff (January 25, 2009). "Shepard the Giant". The Boston Globe. Retrieved February 8, 2009. 
  122. ^ Fairey, Shepard (June 21, 2007). Shepard Fairey, Street Artist. Interview with Signore, John Del. Gothamist. Retrieved January 21, 2009. 


See also

Fairey lives in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles with his wife Amanda and daughters Vivienne and Madeline.[121] In addition to his successful graphic design career, Fairey also DJs at many clubs under the names DJ Diabetic and Emcee Insulin, as he has diabetes.[122]

Personal life

Promotional work for by Fairey for the album and film Celebration Day served as a backdrop for a 2012 Led Zeppelin press conference

Appearances in other media

  • 1999: Sticker Shock: Artists, ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art - University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
  • 2003: Beautiful Losers, CAC - Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH
  • 2004: Backjumps - The Live Issue #1, Kunstraum Kreuzberg / Bethanien, Berlin
  • 2008: Under a Red Sky, Stolenspace Gallery, London
  • 2009: The Art of Rebellion, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2009: Urban Art - Werke aus der Sammlung Reinking, Weserburg | Museum für moderne Kunst, Bremen
  • 2009: Viva la Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego - MCASD Downtown, San Diego, CA
  • 2013: At home I´m a tourist’ Colección de Selim Varol, CAC Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga, Málaga
  • 2014: The Insistent Image: Recurrent Motifs in the Art of Shepard Fairey and Jasper John, Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art, Charleston, SC

Selected group exhibitions

  • 2002: Overnight Delivery, BLK/MRKT Gallery, Culver City, CA
  • 2002: Shepard Fairey, Kinsey/DesForges Gallery, Culver City, CA
  • 2004: Obey, V1 Gallery, Copenhagen
  • 2004: Supply and Demand, Merry Karnowsky Gallery - LA, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2005: Manufacturing Dissent, Merry Karnowsky Gallery - LA, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2005: Shepard Fairey, Honolulu Museum of Art, Honolulu, HI
  • 2006: Obey, Galerie Magda Danysz, Paris
  • 2006: Rise Above, Merry Karnowsky Gallery - LA, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2007: E Pluribus Venom, Jonathan LeVine Gallery, New York, NY
  • 2007: Ninteeneightyfouria, Stolenspace Gallery, London
  • 2007: Imperfect Union, Merry Karnowsky Gallery - LA, Los Angeles, CA
  • 2009: Supply & Demand, ICA - Institute of Contemporary Art Boston, Boston, MA
  • 2009: Shepard Fairey, National Portrait Gallery, Canberra, ACT
  • 2009: Supply & Demand, The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburg, PA
  • 2010: Supply and Demand, CAC - Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH
  • 2010: May Day, Deitch Projects - 76 Grand Street, New York, NY
  • 2011: Revolutions - The Album Cover Art Of Shepard Fairey, Robert Berman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA
  • 2012: Sound & Vision, Stolenspace Gallery, London
  • 2015: On Our Hands, Jacob Lewis Gallery, New York, NY

Selected solo exhibitions


The media reported that the artwork was commissioned by the city of Copenhagen, but the original mural was organized by Fairey's Copenhagen gallery, V1. It was not a government-sponsored work.[111]

In August 2011, Fairey received a black eye and a bruised rib after being attacked outside of the Kodboderne 18 nightclub in Copenhagen, Denmark. Fairey claims the two assailants called him "Obama illuminati" and ordered him to "go back to America". He believes the attack was the result of a misunderstanding over his artwork, which commemorated the demolition of the legendary Ungdomshuset (youth house) at Jagtvej 69. His mural showed a peace dove in flight surrounded by a circle of Tønder lace above the word “Peace”; it was vandalized within 24 hours of its unveiling with graffiti slogans "no peace" and "go home, Yankee hipster".[111]

"I consider myself a populist artist," Fairey says. "I want to reach people through as many different platforms as possible. Street art is a bureaucracy-free way of reaching people, but T-shirts, stickers, commercial jobs, the Internet – there are so many different ways that I use to put my work in front of people."[9]

Bloggers have criticized Fairey for accepting commissions from corporations such as Saks Fifth Avenue, for which his design agency produced illustrations inspired by Constructivism and Alexander Rodchenko.[109] Fairey defends his corporate commissions by saying that clients such as Saks Fifth Avenue help him to keep his studio operational and his assistants employed.[9] Fairey has acknowledged the irony of being a street artist exploring themes of free speech while at the same time being an artist hired by corporations for consumer campaigns. He says simply that designers and artists have to make money to survive.[110]

Art critic Brian Sherwin lashed out at O’Shea’s criticism of Mark Vallen by saying that O’Shea’s SUPERTOUCH article was nothing more than “damage control”. Sherwin questioned O’Shea’s defense of Fairey, noting that Fairey is a SUPERTOUCH author and business associate of O’Shea. Sherwin suggests that O’Shea has a “vested” interest in making sure that Fairey is viewed positively by the public since he has curated art exhibits involving Fairey and has written extensively about the artist. Sherwin wrote that O’Shea once served as editor in chief for Juxtapoz and has worked as a creative director hired by corporate art collections as a corporate liaison for acquisitions. Sherwin concluded that the public will “question the artist who says to question everything,” regardless of O’Shea’s Mark Vallen “damage control” on SUPERTOUCH. Sherwin implied that O'Shea's critique of Vallen was selective because key negative facts about Fairey's history were left out in the article.[107] The dispute between Sherwin and O’Shea was cited by Dan Wasserman on The Boston Globe’s "Out of Line".[108]

Artists Mark Vallen, Lincoln Cushing, Josh MacPhee, and Favianna Rodriguez have documented that Fairey has appropriated work by Koloman Moser, Ralph Chaplin, Pirkle Jones, Rupert Garcia, Rene Mederos, Félix Beltrán, and Gary Grimshaw, among others.[104] In his critique, "Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey", Vallen dissects various works by Fairey, demonstrating them to be plagiarized from the work of other artists.[105] Jamie O'Shea criticizes Vallen's approach for a "nearly ubiquitous lack of understanding of the artist’s use of appropriated imagery in his work and the longstanding historical precedent for this mode of creative expression," in addition to being masked in a thin "veneer of obvious envy in most cases".[106]

Andrew Michael Ford, the director of Ad Hoc Art, said that Fairey's practice does not "match up" in the minds of people who view his work. Ford suggests that some people will view Fairey’s work as “very commercial”. In his comments, he suggested that Fairey is “ripe” for criticism because he profits from politically and socially charged works. Ford stated that, despite his criticism, he is a fan of Fairey work.[103]

In a New York Times review of "E Pluribus Venom" at Jonathan LeVine Gallery, art critic Benjamin Genocchio described Fairey’s art as “generic” despite the range of mediums and styles used by the artist. Genocchio went on to say that it was tempting to see Fairey’s art as just another luxury commodity.[102]

Erick Lyle has accused Fairey of cynically turning graffiti culture into a self-promoting advertising campaign.[98] On the other hand, San Diego Union-Tribune art critic Robert L. Pincus says Fairey's work "is political art with a strong sense of visual style and emotional authenticity. Even in times when political art has ebbed, Fairey's has just the right balance of seriousness, irony and wit to fit the mood of the moment".[99] The Walrus contributor Nick Mount wrote "Following the example set by gallery art, some street art is more about the concept than the art. 'Fuck Bush' isn’t an aesthetic; it’s an ethic. Shepard Fairey’s Obey Giant stickers and Akay’s Akayism posters are clever children of Duchamp, ironic conceptual art."[100] But Stephen Heller of The New York Times suggested that Fairey’s political art has similarities to political art from the past, for instance to political art created by Andy Warhol.[101]

"I challenge anybody to fuck with that, know what I mean", Fairey stated. "It's not like I'm just jumping on some cool rebel cause for the sake of exploiting it for profit. People like to talk shit, but it's usually to justify their own apathy. I don't want to demean anyone's struggles through casual appropriation of something powerful; that's not my intention."[97]

Liam O'Donoghue interviewed Fairey for Mother Jones and questioned the artist about criticism related to his use of images from social movements, specifically images created by black artists. O'Donoghue later posted an article, titled "Shepard Fairey’s Image Problem", on several independent media sites.[96] O' Donoghue explored Fairey's use of copyright-protected images while defending his own copyright-protected works from being used by other artists and corporations. Fairey cited his collaboration with Public Enemy, his funding of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, and his six-figure charitable contributions for Darfur assistance as responses to charges of exploitation.

Shepard Fairey at a book signing for Supply & Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey

Critical response

Fairey's lawyers announced they were no longer representing him, and Laurence Pulgram, an intellectual property lawyer, stated that the revelation definitely put Mr. Fairey's case "in trouble".[89][90] In May 2010, a judge urged Fairey to settle.[91] The parties settled in January 2011.[92] On February 24, 2012, Fairey pleaded guilty to criminal contempt of court for "destroying documents and manufacturing evidence."[93][94] On September 7, 2012, Fairey was sentenced to 300 hours of community service, ordered to pay a $25,000 federal fine, and placed on probation for two years by U.S. Magistrate Judge Frank Maas.[95]

"Fair use" is determined by how much a new work changes an older one. At first Fairey claimed he used the photo of Clooney and Obama and cropped the actor out of the shot and made changes. In February 2009, Fairey filed a federal lawsuit against the Associated Press, seeking a declaratory judgment that his use of the AP photograph was protected by the fair use doctrine and so did not infringe their copyright.[88] In October 2009 Shepard Fairey admitted he had tried to deceive the Court by destroying evidence that he had instead used the photograph alleged by the AP. Fairey admitted he had used a close-up shot of Obama, also taken by Mannie Garcia, as the AP had long alleged. The solo photo appears much more similar to the final HOPE poster than the photo of Clooney and Obama.

Originally, Fairey had claimed his HOPE poster was based on a 2006 copyrighted photo of then-Senator Barack Obama seated next to actor Mannie Garcia on assignment for the Associated Press, which wanted credit and compensation for the work.[83] Garcia believes that he personally owns the copyright for the photo, and has said, "If you put all the legal stuff away, I’m so proud of the photograph and that Fairey did what he did artistically with it, and the effect it's had".[84] Fairey said his use of the photograph fell within the legal definition of fair use.[85] Fairey claims he used pieces of the photo as raw material to create a heroic and inspirational political portrait, the aesthetic of which was fundamentally different from the original photo.[86] Lawyers for both sides tried to reach an amicable agreement.[87]

Fairey has been criticized for failing to obtain permission and to provide attribution for works he used.[78][79][80] Fairey has threatened to sue artists for the same technique. Austin, Texas-based graphic designer Baxter Orr did his own take on Fairey's work in a piece called Protect, with the iconic Obey Giant face covered by a SARS respiratory mask.[81] Orr marketed the prints as his own work. On April 23, 2008, Orr received a cease-and-desist order from Fairey's attorneys, telling him to stop selling Protect because it violated Fairey's trademark. Fairey threatened to sue, calling the designer a "parasite".[82]

Legal issues with appropriation and fair use

In March 2014, Fairey created a portrait of Ai Weiwei with Friends of Ai Weiwei, a group of Ai supporters who were trying to promote awareness of the artists’ legal status in China where authorities had confiscated his passport. Proceeds from the posters went toward Friends of Ai Weiwei’s efforts to help the artist and to promote free speech.[76] In July 2015, Ai Weiwei was granted a full six-month UK visa, reversing a decision not to grant him the travel document.[77]

In July 2013, Fairey did a public arts project for the nonprofit L.A. Fund for Education. Fairey's design titled "Create Your Future" was one of three installments in the #ArtsMatter campaign, which was a collaborative effort with P.S. ARTS and featured the art displayed on billboards and buses across the city of Los Angeles to send the message that arts matter in schools.[74] Again in 2015, Fairey contributed to P.S. Arts, and collaborated with Marc Phillips Decorative Rugs to create a one-of-kind rug for a benefit auction for P.S. Arts.[75]

In December 2011, Fairey contributed to the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation’s inaugural “Artist as Activist” print project to benefit the Coalition for the Homeless. Fairey created an original print called “The Future is Unwritten” to commemorate Rauschenburg’s dedication to important social issues and the mission of the Coalition for the Homeless. The print was sold on Artnet to raise over $150,000 to support the Coalition’s life-saving programs.[73]

In 2011, Fairey was named honorary chair of the Young Literati, a philanthropic group of the Library Foundation of Los Angeles.[71] Fairey has created artwork and curated several Young Literati Annual Toast events benefitting the Library Foundation. Fairey’s wife Amanda has held the position of chair of the Library Foundation since 2013.[72]

In May 2010, Fairey partnered with Feeding America and The Advertising Council to create an outdoor public service advertisement to raise awareness about domestic hunger.[70]

Fairey is a supporter of artist movements such as The Art of Elysium, an organization aiming to affect social change by making art available to striving artists and young people battling serious illnesses. In August 2010, Fairey donated one original Burmese Monk fine art piece as well as an opportunity for a live portrait sitting for Art of Elysium.[68] In September 2014, Fairey curated The Art of Elysium’s GENESIS showcase of emerging L.A. artists, creatives, tastemakers and social leaders.[69]

In November 2009, Fairey partnered with marriage equality.[67]

Fairey has also created artwork to benefit the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace (DLF). In April 2009, Fairey created a poster for the David Lynch Foundation’s “Change Begins Within” benefit concert.[64] In April 2011, Fairey donated unique collector’s items to the foundation’s “Download for Good” campaign.[65] In April 2015, Fairey created a commemorative poster for the 10-year anniversary of the music of David Lynch, with all proceeds from poster sales going to the foundation.[66]

[63] In 2009, Fairey teamed up with artist and activist Ernesto Yerena, activist Marco Amador and musician

In June 2009, Fairey created a poster in support of the plight of Aung San Suu Kyi to bring awareness to the human rights cause in Burma. The proceeds from this print benefitted the Human Rights Action Center and the U.S. Campaign for Burma.[62]

Every year since 2009, Fairey has contributed his art to raise funds for the RUSH Philanthropic Arts Foundation. In August 2011, Fairey donated the Buddhist inspired piece Mandala Ornament (valued at $12,000) to help raise funds for the Foundation through the ART FOR LIFE online auction, the primary annual fundraising effort that helps support thousands of underserved New York children. Proceeds from the annual gala and auction benefitted the Foundation’s signature arts education and gallery programs, which directly serve 2,300 students each year.[61]

[60] In June 2013, a feature documentary called “The Human Trial” about the quest to cure type 1 diabetes caught the attention of Fairey who then created the movie poster in order to raise funds for the film.[59] As a

The Obey Awareness Program, operated by Surfrider Foundation, Urban Roots, the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge and more also received donations. The latest Obey Awareness T-shirts benefitted the Go Campaign, an organization that improves the lives of orphans and vulnerable children around the world by partnering with local heroes to deliver local solutions.

In the early 2000s, Fairey began donating to organizations such as Chiapas Relief Fund, the ACLU, Feeding America, and the Art of Elysium.[55] Following the Obama campaign, Fairey donated proceeds from these poster sales to the ACLU and Feeding America.[56] In September 2010, Fairey created a poster for the ACLU with actress Olivia Wilde as the Statue of Liberty holding a megaphone and a clipboard, the ACLU’s weapons of choice.[57]

Shepard Fairey has always been open about controversial social and political topics and often donates and creates artwork in order to promote awareness of these social issues and contributes directly to these causes.

Activism and Humanitarianism

Fairey created an adaptation of the Obama HOPE poster for satirical Kentucky politician Honest Gil Fulbright.[53] Frank L. Ridley, the actor who portrays Fulbright, is featured on the poster, along with the words "SOLD," which refers to Fulbright's "honest" political message: "I'm only in this thing for the money, but at least I'm honest about it."[54]

Honest Gil Fulbright

"It is a huge exclamation point downtown..." said Patrick Gaspard, American Ambassador to South Africa, which makes us remember the entire liberation struggle and the remarkably peaceful transition to freedom Nelson Mandela achieved.

In 2014, Fairey painted a towering mural, 9-storeys high, paying tribute to Nelson Mandela and the 25th anniversary of the Purple Rain Protest. It is a public artwork on Juta Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, overlooking the Nelson Mandela Bridge. The Mural is Fairey’s first work in Africa and is seen by many as a sequel to the iconic Barack Obama HOPE poster.

Honest Gil Fulbright SOLD Poster

The Mandela mural

In an interview with Esquire in 2015 Fairley said that Obama had not lived up to his expectations, "not even close". He continued, "Obama has had a really tough time, but there have been a lot of things that he's compromised on that I never would have expected. I mean, drones and domestic spying are the last things I would have thought [he'd support]."[52]

[51] magazine.Dog’s Life The poster, which was also offered as a free download, was featured on the cover of the spring 2009 edition of [50] Fairey donated original cover art to the 2008 album

In June 2007, Fairey opened his one-man show entitled "E Pluribus Venom", at the Jonathan LeVine Gallery. The show made the arts section front page in the New York Times.[24]

Fairey working with Hawaii-themed art at an official installation at the Makiki, Honolulu Skate Park

In 2006, Fairey joined NYC based Ad agency Project 2050 as founding Creative Director and was featured on the cover of Advertising Age magazine. While at Project 2050 Shepard developed creative worked for Virgin Mega Store and Boost Mobile. The book Supply and Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey was released in 2006. In 2008, Philosophy of Obey (Obey Giant): The Formative Years (1989–2008), edited by Sarah Jaye Williams, was published by Nerve Books UK, and praised by Fairey.[23]

In 2005 he collaborated for a second time with Z-Trip on a limited edition 12-inch featuring Chuck D entitled "Shock and Awe". In 2005 Fairey also collaborated with DJ Shadow on a box set, with T-shirts, stickers, prints, and a mix CD by Shadow. In 2005 he showed abroad, for instance in Paris at the Magda Danysz Gallery. In 2005 also, he was a resident artist at the Honolulu Museum of Art Spalding House (formerly known as The Contemporary Museum, Honolulu). Also in 2005, Fairey contributed the artwork for the posters, cover art, and graphics for Walk The Line the Johnny Cash biopic. In 2006, Fairey contributed eight vinyl etchings to a limited-edition series of 12" singles by post-punk band Mission of Burma, and has also done work for the musical group Interpol.

In 2004, Fairey joined artists Bush" posters for a street art campaign called "Be the Revolution" for the art collective "Post Gen". "Be the Revolution" kicked off with a night of performances featuring Z-Trip, Ozomatli and David J at the Avalon in Hollywood. Fairey also co-founded Swindle Magazine along with Roger Gastman.

In 2003 he founded the Studio Number One design agency with his wife Amanda Fairey.[21] The agency produced the cover work for The Black Eyed Peas' album Monkey Business and the poster for the film Walk the Line.[21] Fairey has also designed the covers for The Smashing Pumpkins' album Zeitgeist,[22] Flogging Molly's CD/DVD Whiskey on a Sunday, Led Zeppelin's compilation Mothership and movie Celebration Day, and Anthrax's The Greater Of Two Evils. Along with Banksy, Dmote, and others Fairey also created work at a warehouse exhibition in Alexandria, Sydney, for Semi-Permanent in 2003. Approximately 1,500 people attended.

OBEY Giant clothing sold at a Nordstrom department store

Fairey was a founding partner, along with mascot).

After graduation, he founded a small printing business in Providence, Rhode Island, called Alternate Graphics, specializing in T-shirt and sticker silkscreens, which afforded Fairey the ability to continue pursuing his own artwork.[18][19] While residing in Providence in 1994, Fairey met American filmmaker Helen Stickler, who had also attended RISD and graduated with a film degree. The following spring, Stickler completed a short documentary film about Shepard and his work, titled "Andre the Giant has a Posse". The film premiered in the 1995 New York Underground Film Festival, and went on to play at the 1997 Sundance Film Festival. It has been seen in more than 70 festivals and museums internationally.

In a manifesto he wrote in 1990, and since posted on his website, he links his work with Heidegger's concept of phenomenology.[17] His "Obey" Campaign draws from the John Carpenter movie They Live which starred pro wrestler Roddy Piper, taking a number of its slogans, including the "Obey" slogan, as well as the "This is Your God" slogan. Fairey has also spun off the OBEY clothing line from the original sticker campaign. He also uses the slogan "The Medium is the Message" borrowed from Marshall McLuhan. Shepard Fairey has also stated in an interview that part of his work is inspired by other street artists.

Obey Giant street art in Berlin, Germany, 2014
"At first I was only thinking about the response from my clique of art school and skateboard friends. The fact that a larger segment of the public would not only notice, but investigate, the unexplained appearance of the stickers was something I had not contemplated. When I started to see reactions and consider the sociological forces at work surrounding the use of public space and the insertion of a very eye-catching but ambiguous image, I began to think there was the potential to create a phenomenon."[16]

Originally intending the sticker campaign to gain fame among his classmates and college peers, Fairey says,

The Obey Giant website says: "The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker". The website also says, by contrast, that those who are familiar with the sticker find humor and enjoyment from it and that those who try to analyze its meaning only burden themselves and may condemn the art as an act of vandalism from an evil, underground cult.

"André the Giant has a Posse" sticker on a stop sign

Fairey created the "André the Giant Has a Posse" sticker campaign in 1989, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD).[14] This later evolved into the "Obey Giant" campaign, which has grown via an international network of collaborators replicating Fairey's original designs.[15] Fairey intended the Obey Giant to inspire curiosity and cause people to question their relationship with their surroundings.


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