Limited Edition of 300
Obey Guns and Roses by Shepard Fairey
Son of a physician, Shepard Fairey fell in love with making art at age 14. After graduating from the prestigious Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts in Idyllwild, California in 1988, he was accepted at RISD. Fairey graduated in 1992 with a B.F.A.
While attending RISD, Fairey had a part time job in a Providence skateboarding shop. The marginalized, “underground” culture there (where styles are out as soon as they’re in) synthesized with that rarified art school culture and Fairey’s ongoing interests in (1) punk music and (2) stenciling his own punk music t-shirts.
Everything meshed on the day a friend asked him how to create a stencil.
Fairey demonstrated with a newspaper ad for a professional wrestling match featuring Andre the Giant which was the most banal image he could have grabbed. Tantalizing “what if” possibilities began to cross Fairey’s mind.
And so it came to pass that Fairey, who had only recently become aware of Graffiti Art, took his “Obey” stencils and stickers to the streets. Andre the Giant famously gained a posse and Fairey’s name was launched.
Fairey disappointed a segment of his fans by not remaining a cult figure and beginning to make money as an artist.
Conversely, his messages calling for social and political change are sincere, he donates heavily to causes and he keeps a staff of assistant artists gainfully employed. Note too that many parallels can be drawn between Fairey’s image sources and those of Andy Warhol, who is now celebrated in the art world.
Only time will tell if Fairey attains Warholian status, but he has already gained a lasting place in history for the HOPE poster used during Obamas 2008 US Presidential campaign.