Shepard Fairey Street Art in London for Obey Anniversary

Thirty years on from first starting out and Shepard Fairey is in Shoreditch, 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.

Obey symbol by Shepard Fairey in London
Shepard Fairey’s iconic ‘Obey’ image on Whitby Street in London

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.

Street art by Shepard Fairey in London on Mare Street
‘Humanity is Worth Fighting For’. Large scale piece from Shepard Fairey on Mare Street

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

street art by shepard fairey in London on Whitby street
Shepard Fairey work on Whitby Street
street art by shepard fairey on whitby street in London
Whitby Street in Shoreditch

Hanbury Street, Shoreditch

Obey street art from Shepard Fairey on Hanbury Street in London
A simpler piece from Shepard Fairey on Hanbury Street in Shoreditch

Mare Street, Hackney

‘Humanity is Worth Fighting For’ by Shepard Fairey
The mural can be found on the corner of Mare Street and Well Street in Hackney

For more posts featuring the work of Shepard Fairey on Inspiring City, have a look at these:

Street art in Lisbon featuring Shepard Fairey

Brick Lane Street Art featuring Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey old paste ups on Whitechapel Road

Street Art in the Truman Brewery


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