Biography of Shepard Fairey
An exalted figure in the world of street art, Shepard Fairey is notorious for his inflammatory and politically charged work in which he critiques corporate culture and challenges the current state of affairs. Emerging from the skateboarding and punk scene in the late 1980s, Shepard Fairey created his first sticker campaign whilst completing his studies at the Rhode Island School of Design. The success of the campaign was unprecedented, practically overnight stickers carrying the slogan “OBEY” featuring the face of Andre the Giant, were to be found in public spaces all over America. Embodying the symbolic message “question everything”, they became synonymous with resistance to authority figures of all kinds and remain one of the most iconic images of 1990s urban art.
Turning his art into a tool for political activism, Shepard Fairey went on to create a series of enormously successful posters to accompany Obama’s 2008 candidacy for President of the United States. In 2014 he would go on to paint an enormous mural as a homage to Nelson Mandela. As a graphic designer he also created album covers for The Smashing Pumpkins and Led Zeppelin as well as designing a number of film posters. Moving fluidly between the street art scene and the gallery world, between popular culture and politics, Shepard Fairey continues to produce provocative and visually striking work in a multitude of mediums including collages, screen prints, stencils, and illustrations. Ideally suited to serial production, the artist’s multiples and editions reflect his background as a street artist and his belief in the democratization of the arts.
Born in 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina, and currently based in Los Angeles, Shepard Fairey has exhibited work at renowned institutions around the world. Most notably a retrospective at the ICA—Institute of Contemporary Art Boston and The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh in 2009. Shepard Fairey’s multifaceted work is included in the public collections of MoMA, New York, The Smithsonian, Washington, DC, and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, amongst many others.