Soma magazine


march 1997
From Wrestle-Mania to Propaganda

Graffitti, and tagging in particular has always been viewed as an artistic form of territorial pissing. ‘The more spots you reach, the harder you are. Though the argument has always been is graffitti art or just juvenile destruction of property, a few prodigies have their toes right on the defining line. The most notable of the hour, or at least the most visible, is Shep Fairey.

Using graffiti techniques mixed with art concepts and graphic design elements, Shep is feeding the frenzied masses with a wholesome diet of Andre Heads. “Andre was just so ugly, and big, and amazing,” states Shep Fairey, graduate of Rhode Island School of Design, and creator of the company Giant.

What began as a group of printed stickers has erupted into acompany with a cult following with wrestler Andre the Giant’s head as the deity. The Russian propaganda style graphic Shep created with Andre’s massive head has become somewhat of an urban icon. Seemingly Big Brother-esque and followed sometimes with the words “obey giant Has A Posse” or “Obey the Giant,” Shep Fairey’s obey giant series is seeping into the collective unconscious of art and graffiti afficionados throughout the United States. Using the elements of graffiti in which words and images appear mysteriously and silently overnight, Shep places Andre in the middle of obvious and not so obvious public thoroughfares.

His body of work is not only limited to the smelly city streets. He has had shows at the Holly Solomon Gallery and the New Museum, both in New York City, employing street as well as gallery tactics to present his work to the general public. Screening each poster himself, he has virtually covered every inch of every major East coast city with the Giant, including, New York, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Though his West Coast popularity has mainly been attributed to his charmingly subversive stickers, he is starting to reach San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego with posters, stencils, and full blown and eagerly anticipated outdoor installation projects.