Obey Giant Headlines

FERGUSON AND MICHAEL BROWN

The fatal shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teen, by a white police officer in Ferguson Mo. is not only tragic, but is charged with tension because of the inconsistency of witness testimony and the history of real and perceived racial bias in the area. I’m not pleased with the Grand Jury’s decision not to indict Darren Wilson, I have seen no compelling evidence that he needed to kill Brown to save his own life. I am relieved that proceedings have been more transparent than usual, with the evidence presented to the Grand Jury being shared with the public. This is a complex case, and the result, like it or not, was achieved through the justice system. However, I think there is insidious bias within our society, and our justice system that would have yielded a very different result if the roles were reversed. Imagine if Michael Brown had shot an unarmed Darren Wilson in the middle of the street and claimed it was self-defense. I think Brown would be facing life in prison. In my experience (I’ve been beaten up by police on a few occasions with my only provocation being that I put up art without permission), the police are often as cavalier about rules and laws as the criminals they despise. Regardless of the details in question in Ferguson, abuse of authority by those meant to “serve and protect” is far too common. I know some really cool cops, but what about the ones who are abusive? Who polices the police? I understand why many people of color feel frustrated and vulnerable to police abuse. I disagree with rioting and looting, because authorities always use unrest to justify their oppressive tactics, but I understand how feelings of powerlessness and frustration manifest in some sort of destructive retaliation from those who feel wronged.
-Shepard

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INTERPOLATION / NEW INTERPOL MURAL AND WEBSITE LAUNCH!

I picked up Interpol’s first album “Turn on the Bright Lights” shortly after it was released, based purely on the mysterious, film noir meets Blue Note (but in red), image on the cover. The music lived up to the seductive promise of the cover and I soon decided I’d found my new favorite band. I stalked Interpol backstage at Coachella and offered to create art for them if they ever needed it… to my surprise, they knew my work already and decided to take me up on my offer and have me create some art for their follow up album “Antics” in 2004. Ten years have passed since that project and after hanging with the band after their Lollapalooza gig this summer, we discussed working together again, possibly with a public art component. When “El Pintor” came out I loved the music, cover art, and the anagram device (an anagram is a new word or set of words made from the letters of another word or set of words in a different order). EL PINTOR means “the painter” in Spanish but is an anagram of INTERPOL. When approaching our new collaboration, I liked the challenge of creating an anagram from a song title. Daniel Kessler suggested “Everything Is Wrong” as the song for me to interpret. I love that song, so my thinking was to find a middle ground between Interpol’s aesthetics, lyrics for the song, and my art style and concepts. The lyrics to “Everything Is Wrong” are open to interpretation, but whether the song is about hard living, relationship failures, wear and tear on the environment, or an empire mentality, regret for poor decisions seems to be the theme. I decided to explore the idea of being complicit in a personal relationship or a relationship with a system that one realizes is unhealthy. I did an art show recently called “Power & Glory” that was a celebration and critique of Americana with an emphasis on the symbols and meanings of power. I like to question our obsession with money and the bravado that “America is the greatest country in the earth’s history”. Basically, I’m looking for an excuse to implicitly question hegemony, and “Everything Is Wrong” gave me one. My anagrams from EVERYTHING IS WRONG: THE VERY GROWING SIN and EVERY WRONG INSIGHT reflect both Interpol’s lyrics and my Power & Glory concepts. Since my mural images are interpretations of the song through my sensibility, but within parameters, they qualify as “interpolations”. It is convenient that interpolation references Interpol, but meaningfully, I think that art and music that inspire dialogue and interpretation are powerful fuel for expression and empowerment. I hope that the layers of this collaboration might make some molecules collide somehow.
-Shepard

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Glen E. Friedman in London this friday!

If you’re in London this Friday be sure to check out Glen E. Friedman’s photography exhibition showcasing works featured in his book “My Rules”, which saw it’s U.S. release earlier this year. I was honored to contribute the forward to this book having known Glen for many years and after numerous collaborations, I am really excited for this show. Don’t miss it! – Shepard

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Shepard on Creativity, activism, and rebellion

Shepard speaks on creativity, activism and rebellion in this new video interview from Fusion. Check it out!

“What I think is great about what’s happening now in global activism is that people can connect much more easily through social media. Now I think people that are motivated can make things happen as quickly as a corporation can.” – Shepard

WATCH THE VIDEO HERE!

CopyrightX Enrollment now open!

As many of you know, I was faced with the challenge of a copyright infringement lawsuit over the use of a reference photograph when I illustrated my Obama HOPE poster image. One of the amazing and generous attorneys who helped me in my defense of my position was Terry Fisher, a professor at Harvard, and one of the most respected copyright attorneys in the country. Terry is teaching a Harvard course called CopyrightX that is free for online applicants. Copyright can be confusing and tricky territory for artists and designers, so learning the lay of the land from professor Fisher could be incredibly beneficial to anyone working in a creative field. Terry Fisher is a believer in copyright protections, but also in an interpretation of copyright law that is friendly to artists and their creative transformations. The only silver lining to my copyright infringement lawsuit was getting to know Terry Fisher, and through him achieving a deeper understanding of copyright principles and law. I would highly recommend professor Fisher’s CopyrightX class if the legal parameters around creativity are one of your concerns.
-Shepard

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R.I.P. RICHARD DUARDO

My friend Richard Duardo passed away in his sleep unexpectedly a couple of nights ago. He was a very important part of the LA art eco-system and deserves a major tribute. I should have written this sooner, but I was in shock. I met Richard almost 12 years ago. I liked him immediately… he was warm, charming, funny, and most of all, incredibly passionate about art and fine art screen printing. I was very impressed that he had worked with many of my art heroes including Keith Haring, Mark Mothersbaugh, John Van Hamersveld, Mick Haggerty, David Hockney, and Chaz Bojorquez. Richard was enthusiastic about my work, and encouraged me to step up the scale and sophistication of my prints with his help. In many ways, I owe the evolution of my fine art print work to Richard’s craft and willingness to share his years of printing knowledge and range of techniques. Something I learned quickly about Richard was that he loved people and was constantly fostering artist’s relationships with each other, museums, collectors, activists, and charities. If there was an art event or a progressive gathering going on, Richard was likely to be there. If you dropped by Modern Multiples, Richard’s print studio, on a weekend, you were likely to be fed the best Tamales from Boyle Heights. Richard was kind. I will miss Richard as a friend and art comrade, but the most troubling thing for me is the loss to the art community of one of the few remaining master printers… someone who put craft before profit and always rose to the challenge of translating great art into beautiful prints. The number of artists and fellow printers Richard helped over the years is too long to list. Richard was a pleasure to work with, party with, discuss art with, and meet a bunch of great characters through. I live with the color of Richard’s prints on my walls, but the L.A. scene will be a bit more drab without his vibrant character. Thanks for the tamales man!
-Shepard

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Please Support Water Brother’s Kickstarter Campaign

I used to skate with and print t-shirts for Water Brothers crew when I lived in Rhode Island. Sid Abruzzi and the Water Bros. crew were a blast to skate and hang out with, and they facilitated, or were at least part of, most of the coolest skateboard events happening in the area. The Rhode Island skate scene owes a lot to Sid and Water Brothers. For all of us who’ve benefitted from D.I.Y. culture, let’s reciprocate with some D.I.Y. love back for some of the seminal creators of the Rhode Island skate scene. Check out the Water Brothers Kickstarter.
-Shepard

Check out the Water Brother’s Kickstarter campaign video and help CONTRIBUTE HERE!

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Debbie Harry Zebra Skin

Blondie is one of my all-time favorite bands. I’ve been a fan since I discovered them as a kid on pop radio. After I got into punk, I learned more about Blondie’s evolution from the CBGB’s scene alongside bands like The Ramones, Talking Heads, Television, and Suicide. I always appreciated Blondie’s stylistic diversity, tackling genres such as rock, girl group soul, disco, hip-hop, and reggae. Blondie’s front woman Debbie Harry is an amazing vocalist, lyricist, style icon, beauty, and embodiment of NYC cool. I’ve admired Blondie and Debbie enough from a distance to make a few portraits of her over the years, but this is my first portrait of her since I’ve been friends with her and her Blondie co-founder, songwriter, and guitarist Chris Stein. Chris happens to be a great photographer and took the picture of Debbie my illustration is based on. I worked on some writing and the design for Chris’s photo book: Chris Stein / Negative: Me, Blondie, and the Advent of Punk and Chris offered to allow me to work from any of his photos. I was excited to work from Chris’s picture of Debbie with the Zebra background because I love her expression and the pop art sensibility of the Zebra skin. I took inspiration from Warhol’s portrait of Debbie, one of my favorite pieces by a favorite artist, which was coincidentally captured in progress by Chris Stein. Debbie and Chris are incredibly down to earth and were willing to sign the print also. I feel very lucky to know Debbie and Chris and grateful that they wanted to do this collaboration. I recommend checking out this great documentary on Blondie if you want a great overview of their evolution. http://www.smithsonianchannel.com/sc/web/show/3397952/blondies-new-york
-Shepard

Release Date: Thursday, November 13th at a random time between 10am and 12 noon (PST) on Obeygiant.com. 18×24 screen print on cream speckle tone paper. Signed by Shepard Fairey, Chris Stein, and Debbie Harry. Edition of 450. $75.  Limit 1 per person/household.

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Brave new Films Box Set / 10 Year Celebration

Brave New Films celebrates 10 years of exposing Fox News, Walmart, the Koch Brothers, the failures of the Military-Industrial Complex & more. Order your copy of the 10 year box set today and get access to an EXCLUSIVE featurette! Order here!

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Protect the Sacred

I made this Protect the Sacred image in collaboration with National Geographic Photographer Aaron Huey in support of www.honorthetreaties.org, an organization that amplifies the voices of Indiginous communities by funding collaborations between artists and Native advocacy groups. This image also addresses the universal threats to the environment that both Native Americans and the rest of Americans face. I admire the Native American philosophy of harmony with nature and respecting and protecting the earth. Aaron and I have collaborated on several projects to benefit Honor the Treaties on both general Native advocacy and specific Treaty rights issues like the struggle for the Black Hills of South Dakota. These projects have helped to facilitate poster campaigns in more than a dozen cities and many large scale murals. Proceeds from this print go to fund the next awareness campaign by the “Honor The Treaties” artists for Protection of Sacred land, water, and air on the Reservations and beyond. You can see more art made by the Honor The Treaties group, and download all of it at high resolution, free of charge HERE.

We will be releasing a 24×36 offset print on thin paper to both sell as a signed print and to sell unsigned in packs of ten for public display of your choosing. More details soon. Thanks for caring.
-Shepard Fairey

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