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.
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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 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
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.
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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!
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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.
Check out the Water Brother’s Kickstarter campaign video and help CONTRIBUTE HERE!
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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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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.
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I’ve been honored to do two Time Magazine covers, one of Barack Obama in 2008 and one of an Occupy Wall Street protester in 2011. Both of these covers reflected my values and belief in the subjects at those times. However the new Mitch McConnell Time cover is not a cover I would ever do. While I appreciate Time’s irony. I don’t agree with the politics of the Republican party, or Mitch McConnell’s voting record. It’s always flattering to be referenced, even in a sarcastic way, but I take the future of our democracy, our country, and the well being of its citizens very seriously. CHANGE is right, but it is in the wrong direction. With the mid-term elections the country took a step backward. I don’t think the Republican platform of tax breaks for the rich, voter suppression, never ending war and fear-mongering, corporate welfare, sexism, and lack of empathy for the struggles of the shrinking middle class really align with the values of most Americans. In my opinion, many Americans voted against their own interests, or did not vote at all in the mid-terms. The result is that the situation for the average American will now be worse and policies that favor corporate interests and Wall Street will be the norm. The hopes for campaign finance reform, one of the only remedies to corporate and political collusion and corruption, will be more dim. Please read this article to understand the potential consequences of Mitch McConnell as majority leader.
I use my art to promote justice and the Republican agenda is the opposite of my vision of justice. Please educate yourself about the issues and the deeper dynamics behind them. I have my own issues with Obama, but the Republicans created many of the problems for the nation that they blame Obama for, and a largely uninformed populace, susceptible to misinformation, believed them. We all need to know what we are really voting for. Thanks for caring.
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I’m proud to be an executive producer on MTV’s new show Rebel Music.
I’ve also created the visuals for the show. In the second season
premiere we are pointing the lens on the struggles the Native American
community faces here on our own soil. The people featured in Rebel
Music are courageous and inspiring in their use of music and art to
push for justice and humanity. MTV has the ability to reach a huge
audience and give voices to young people highlighting the power of the
combination of music, art, and activism. If you are like me, and you’d
like to see more programming that gives voice to creative people with
great ideas questioning orthodoxy, please tune in to Rebel Music and
spread the word about it!
Exclusive premiere on MTV’s FB page, 4 pm ET/ 1pm PT, Thursday, Nov 13th.