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Milton Glaser: Shepard Fairey’s Work Is ‘Dangerous Example for Students’

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“It’s awkward to criticize another member of your discipline,” says Milton Glaser, but that didn’t stop the graphic design legend from weighing in on the work of Shepard Fairey, who missed the Friday opening of an exhibition of his work at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art (“The first museum survey of one of the most influential street artists of our time”) when he was detained by the cops on graffiti-related charges. “For myself—this is subjective—I find the relationship between Fairey’s work and his sources discomforting,” Glaser told Print magazine. “Nothing substantial has been added.”

In my own case, when I did the Dylan poster, I acknowledged using Duchamp‘s profile as an influence. I think unless you’re modifying it and making it your own, you’re on very tenuous ground. It’s a dangerous example for students, if they see that appropriating people’s work is the path to success. Simply reproducing the work of others robs you of your imagination and form-making abilities. You’re not developing the muscularity you need to invent your own ideas.

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