Tuesday, September 28, 2010


I'm in kind of a yelling mood today, because I've got a headache and I'm worried about Jill. She's been in her room every time I'm home for the past few days, and I don't think she's gone to class. I don't think she's sick but I'm not really sure what's wrong...maybe I'll just make her dinner or something nice. Also, my computer keeps doing weird things, crashing and restarting randomly in the middle of the night, which means I'm a little bit sleep deprived. I'm sure that's helping my mood.

Anyway, time to yell.

Even if you guys don't know the name Shepard Fairey, you know his work. Specifically, you know this poster:

Or maybe you know him for his ubiquitous Obey brand, featuring Andre the giant:

Or maybe you've seen his designs for the covers of George Orwell's 1984 and Animal Farm:

So yeah, like I said, you know him. He's designed a huge amount of counterculture imagery, especially for skater subcultures, and he's gotten very, very famous and rich off his works.
But here's the thing: I don't like the guy.
The main criticism of Shepard Fairey is that his work is at best derivative, and at worst outright plagerism. He has a tendency to use people's images without permission, and then turn around and sue people who do the same to him. It's not terribly endearing, and there's more.

Shepard Fairey markets to anticonsumerists, members of the counterculture. And he's gotten rich off of letting high schoolers play revolutionary by wearing and buying his designs. He's no longer a member of any real counterculture. He sold out, but hHe's somehow managed to keep a fair ammount of credibility, and now whenever I see some upper-middle class white boy wearing an "Obey" t-shirt and thinking he's a rebel, I have to marvel at the sheer hypocrisy of it. Stephen Heller, a design critic for the New York Times, said it really well: "It is painfully ironic, if not disappointing, to see 'Obey the Giant' co-opted by Obey the Brand."

While writing this eEntry, it occured to me that I'm not sSure whether Andre the giant got any money from his image being used. I can't find anythHing online that mentions any money coming to him. Fairey starteEd making his orRiginal stickers in 1989, and Andre died in 1993. His estate at leEast should have gotten some cash.

I guess my main problem with Fairey is his plagerism- I'd be ok with his use of other art as long as he credited accordingly, or didn't swipe directly, or maybe if he jJust ripped off things that weren't specifically associated wiIth real movements to make money off his vague, fake revolLution. He has an insane ammount of followers, so if you want to be annoyed at a bunch of juvenile faux rebels, check out The Giant Wiki. At the end of the day, the guy just doesn't have anything to say, and he's making so much money off of nothing.
I don't know, he just pisses me off. Next entry willL be both shorter and less ranty, especially if my computer keeps giving me problems.

Relevant Links:
Wikis for Shepard Fairey and the Andre The Giant Has A Posse stickers (which later turned into the Obey brand)


  1. Why are their random capitalised letters in this?


  2. HES HERE JILL is spelled out in caps.
    I'm afraid that you are being hallowed, as is your roommate, hence the Hallow-code.