The master at work. Photo by Brent Broza

Inspirations #2: Shepard Fairey

His love for Skateboarding, Politics, Punk and Art embodies the work which Fairey is known for today. From the OBEY Sticker Campaign to the ‘We The People’ campaign, Fairey is regarded as one of the pioneers of modern street art. Mr OBEY has inspired me for many years and here’s why…

Lewis Webster Ⓥ
Jul 26, 2018 · 5 min read

OBEY, The Obama Administration campaign, We The People, there are many ways in which Fairey has been in the public eye across the world in one way or another, whether you know his name or not. The rebellious nature of his work has always managed to sneak its way into our lives and leaving a lasting impression and often imitated.

Punk, Skateboarding, Politics and Art fuel the fire to Shepard’s work. His work has elements which echo the work of Barbara Kruger and Andy Warhol, but a key focus of Shepard’s work is his exploration of the concept of Phenomenology, which offers a whole new dimension to the man behind the work and his output.

An extract taken from his website:

‘The first aim of phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The obey sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings.’

A key role in his study around Phenomenology is his famous ‘Andre The Giant Has Posse’ sticker campaign. This started during his studies in his second year of education at the Rhode Island School of Design, when a friend of his was interested in his processes of stencilling and screen-printing, in which Shepard was creating his own band shirt designs and logos. Turning through a newspaper, an Andre the Giant image was found, Shepard said why not use this image, but his friend refused as he thought it was ‘stupid’. This then became the start of something big for the South Carolina born creative.

He produced a number of stickers of Andre the Giant and began to place them all around his local area. It became an underground movement, were people wanted the stickers from Shepard to post around or to use them, but this then attracted major attention and publicity, even featuring in Rhode Island’s local newspaper questioning what it was. This then sparked the flame to what Shepard explores in his work and the drive behind his study in the concept of Phenomenology.

Why does he inspire me?

For many reasons really. His work ethic, his approach, attitude and overall style of work resonates within me. The idea behind his work and using the concept of Phenomenology is really interesting to me and adds a lot more depth to his process, instead of his work being done for the sake of creating beautiful work.

I am not saying for one minute that art has to have a meaning, but I feel Shepard’s work definitely goes hand in hand with art and meaning. His constant drive to produce brilliant work and to evoke his feelings and thoughts through art is admirable and he is constantly challenging his own way of working, whether that be through scale or collaborating with other artists to realise his ideas and evolve his current way of working.

OBEY. (Images are not mine, all rights reserved to photographers)

He is still very much a inspiration to many creatives across the world, including myself. There’s so much more than what is on the surface of Shepard and his work. At times I may add, I can be often be bored by his work, in the sense of it possibly merging into a blend of the same thing all the time, but I always come back missing his work and loving it even more than I done previously.

Even talking about his work to other people who may not even understand his concepts behind the visuals inspires me greatly.

It makes me appreciate what a huge contributor to the world of art he is and what he offers as a contemporary artist. In a society today where I believe art and visual communication is very much important and a key component in our every day lives, he is still a force to be reckoned with and he won’t be slowing down his work ethic or quality any time soon. I think his work will be and is timeless and will be remembered in years to come, along with his influence and his drive. Long live OBEY! To check out Shepard Fairey’s work, follow this link.


Links to work / social media:

Lewis Webster Ⓥ

Written by

Aspiring Creative of some sort. Nottingham Trent Student.