All Articles
All Articles
CULTURE

Nineteeneightyfouria: Shepard Fairey Interview

CULTURE

Nineteeneightyfouria: Shepard Fairey Interview

by Tim Yu
on 12 October 2007
shep-postcard-front.jpg

Many regard Shepard Fairey as one of the godfathers of the modern urban art scene and he's widely known as one of the hardest working men in the business. His Obey Andre the Giant figure can be found all over the world, oftentimes in some surprising locales. Unique stencil, collage, photography and painting techniques have made him possibly the worlds most well-known street artist.

Fairey's latest venture is taking on the art world as he continues to move his pieces into gallery environments. For those of you who missed the show in New York City you'll have a chance to view his work across the pond in London 1-25 November 2007 at Stolenspace. Named Nineteeneightyphoria, it's his inaugural show in London, arguably the street art capital of the world. Comprised of a range of artworks, mostly awesome in scale, it's an overt reference to the surveillance culture of Orwell's 1984 and where better than just under the Eye and Big Ben. Fairey harnesses his counter culture reputation to question the cultural paradigm post 9-11.

In the midst of all his preparation for the show Shepard graciously offered us some time on the phone. Even over the wires, it was apparent that he's a genuine and passionate individual. We had a great conversation...

FaireyUStreasury.jpg

So this is your first time exhibiting your work in London?
Well, not exactly. This is my first solo show in London since 1999 and I've been here a few times since putting up some stuff around town. Inaugural makes it sound a bit more special. At the same time, I think Londoners usually only see my stuff online so it will be nice to go there and show my stuff, especially in the large scale that I'm working with right now. And London's a great city! Any excuse to visit is good enough for me.

London, in my opinion, is the center of the street art world right now, especially with the likes of Banksy and his sucess. I'm observing a paradigm shift there more than anywhere else as far as street art, it's value and cultural relevance. London is even starting to loosely protect some of Banksy's work around the city. It is obviously the place to be right now when it comes to this sort of stuff.

I caught your recent show in New York City, what are you doing for this show, anything different?
I am building upon my New York show. Printing my own intricate wallpapers, using some old stencils, making some new ones. A big inspiration for me lately has been Rauschenberg's pieces, so I try to bring that same aesthetic and feel to my collage work. Just very organic, colorful but detailed. I've also been working my brush skills into my work a bit more these days. I mean I always painted, I actually studied illustration and painting in school, but now I have a bit more time to do it all. I'm not just slapping these pieces up on a wall outside where it might be taken down in a few hours so I work at it a bit more.

I have to remember that this is for an audience that will be inspecting my work more closely. So I take my time with it, fill in more details with my brush.

mujer-fatal-Fairey.jpg

Any difference internally or superficially now that you're increasingly finding yourself in gallery environments?
Firstly, to satisfy the gallery and related components, the pieces need to be strong enough to buy. I want the gallery to be happy with me. Even more than that, they have to be good enough to look at all the time. My pieces on the street, you will just pass in the car or walk by, you're only dedicating a few seconds worth of attention. However, I always have in mind that whoever decides to buy the piece needs to look at it everyday so the work needs to represented in that same light. That right there is rather daunting. Because of this, I obviously put much more time and detail into my work when exhibited in a gallery. I want them to be able to see something new with every look.

Overall being shown in galleries has catalyzed an evolution in my work and things are coming out that I didn't notice before because I'm spending more time with my pieces. It's been a great experience.

Continue reading...

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should