What Is Obey Giant ?- Part 3-November 2008

 In 2001 Shepard and Amanda were married and soon would have their first child, this changed the way he approached his art. While still maintaining a punk approach, Shepard had to recognize that he was a parent now, he started to see how everything was connected. From our foreign policy to the environment, to the danger of accepting our governments actions like sheep about to be made into lamb chops.  He made sure he was home by seven so he could spend time with his daughter, and his work became more politically questioning and socially conscious. I personally think at the heart of it all was this, what kind of world are we going to leave to our children?

 During this time Shepard and Jason Fillipow, his high school friend and head assistant, work in Fairey’s two-car garage making stencils, and silk-screening images, producing a huge amount of finished work for the gallery shows he did about twice a year.  Amanda and Shepard also co-founded Studio Number One, creating bold graphic media and brand identity for Virgin Megastores, The Henry Rollins Show (whose set was decorated by Shepard, who would later be a guest on the show), Indie 103.1 logo, the L.A. D-fenders basketball team, and many others. They would go on to build a small empire that includes an Obey clothing line, and with friend Rodger Gastman, they would publish Swindle Magazine, a socially conscious art and culture magazine. But he was still stickering and pasting up his iconic Obey face image and others almost every day, sticking to private property and to spaces that were either abandoned or already tagged by graffiti.

 In 2001 he stopped to give a water tower a re-application (of a huge Obey paster ) that he had “bombed” as they call it, years before. But on his way down the owner of the property told him to stay put, the police were on their way. Shepard did his best to talk his way out of it, it could be seen from the highways nearby-a perfect spot! He was arrested and later, after posting bail, he went back to see the man and it worked! He showed the owner of the property and his kids some stuff about himself on the computer, and gave the kids some stickers and shirts, then paid the man 300 bucks to have the face removed, and the owner let it stay up for three months and dropped the charges against Fairey.

 By this time he also had made posters using such figures in history as Mao, Nixon, Che Guerava, Lenin, and Stalin. Believing that by making Obey art with these faces from history, he could in essence, make a statement about the use of imagery by leaders to manipulate the people, and at the same time tell people to be wary, and to question everything. This tendancy to bring about debate is intentional, and is at the heart of his philosophy on life, stimulating thought and provocative debate is more desireable than keeping quiet for the sake of people’s feelings.

 Being a child of the punk era  hasn’t stopped him from being a advocate of  sixties radical Angela Davis or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. he seems to have an affinity for figures like Patty Hearst, he is fascinated by her story and the idea that people are the products of their environments. Shepard has also used worker’s rights activist Noam Chomsky in his art, as well as the leader of the Zapatista’s, Subcomandante Marcos, who fights the Mexican government on behalf of the people of the state of Chiapas, suffering unfairly treatment from Mexico’s leaders. The Black Panthers and all Muselims are represented too, as well as Bob Marley and Joe Strummer of The Clash are all part of Shepard’s paradigm of equality and civil liberty, he also believes strongly in women’s rights, and in the value of the female psyche in the world at large. All of these belief’s will give him a power in the future to influence the world in his own small artistic way, but at this point he is coming to his first big move into the spotlight. In the years to come he will find himself at the crossroads in ways he could not imagine, when he was up on that water tower in Chicago, trying to talk his way down.
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Filed under Art, Art Shows, Shepard Fairey, Street Art

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