Thirty years on from first starting out and Shepard Fairey is in London. It was in 1989 that Fairey launched his now iconic ‘Andre the Giant has a posse‘ sticker campaign on the West Coast of America. Originally starting out as a bit of a laugh, it grew legs and now 30 years on, he is one of the biggest artists on the worlds urban art scene.
The image he used has since morphed into the famous ‘Obey’ icon which became a masterclass in guerrilla marketing. The black and white stylized image that we know today is just a more graphic evolution of the eyes of Andre the Giant from that original image. From what was essentially a viral sticker, it now fronts a huge clothing brand.
Shepard Fairey in London
Inspired by the movie ‘They Live’ starring the wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper. It was that film alongside a love of the works of George Orwell which inspired the ‘Obey’ campaign. The word was used throughout the movie as a means of controlling the people. For Fairey, as the Andre the Giant image evolved, the word Obey was added and this become another iteration of a growing viral phenomenon.
To mark the 30 years since that first idea, Shepard Fairey has put on an exhibition of his work in London at the Stolen Space gallery. His work having evolved substantially from those early days. His graphic portraits and contrasting use of colour in particular, make for some striking images. One particularly memorable one of Barack Obama became iconic in the 2008 American presidential campaign. Portraying Obama’s face, it had the word ‘Hope’ written underneath and became a key image of that election.
Shepard Fairey has now also created a number of new murals in London. He’s visited a number of times before of course but this time he’s gone to town with three new works. It’s quite a haul and good to see an artist of Shepards standing creating so much in the city. They can be seen on Mare Street in Hackney and on Hanbury Street and Whitby Street in Shoreditch.
The latest murals from Shepard Fairey were visited and photographed over the weekend of 5th and 6th October 2019. His exhibition ‘Facing the Giant: 3 Decades of Dissent’ is showing at the Stolen Space Gallery in London from 5 October 2019 to 1 November 2019.
Whitby Street, Shoreditch
Hanbury Street, Shoreditch
Mare Street, Hackney
For more posts featuring the work of Shepard Fairey on Inspiring City, have a look at these: