Who is Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina) is a contemporary artist, graphic designer and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding sceneand became known initially for his “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston calls him one of today’s best known and most influential street artists. He usually uses just his middle and last name.

Fairey created the “André the Giant Has a Posse” sticker campaign in 1989, while attending the Rhode Island School of Design.   This later evolved into the “Obey Giant” campaign, which has grown via an international network of collaborators replicating Fairey’s original designs.   In a manifesto he wrote in 1990, and since posted on his website, he links his work with Heidegger’s concept of phenomenology.   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.

Fairey graduated from RISD in 1992 with a Bachelor of Arts in illustration. After graduation, he founded a small printing business in Providence, RI called Alternate Graphics, specializing in tshirt and sticker silkscreens, which afforded Fairey the ability to continue pursuing his own artwork. While residing in Providence in 1994, Fairey met American filmmaker Helen Stickler, who had also attended Rhode Island School of Design 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 2003 he founded the Studio Number One design agency.   The agency produced the cover work for the Black Eyed Peas’s album Monkey Business and the poster for the film Walk the Line.   Fairey has also designed the covers for The Smashing Pumpkins’ album Zeitgeist,  Flogging Molly’s CD/DVD Whiskey on a Sunday, and the Led Zeppelin compilation Mothership.

His book, “Supply and Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey,” was released in July 2006.

Fairey currently resides in Los Angeles, California.   Fairey created a series of posters supporting Barack Obama’s candidacy for President in 2008.   He sits on the advisory board of Reaching to Embrace the Arts, a not-for-profit organization that provides art supplies to disadvantaged schools and students.


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