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Posts Tagged ‘Shepard Fairey’

Shepard Fairey’s OBEY Origins Made Into a Movie: Meet the 22-Year-Old Director

Twenty years on, Andre the Giant still Has a Posse, and now the subversive sticker campaign that ignited Shepard Fairey‘s worldwide propaganda delivery system gets its cinematic due in Obey the Giant, a narrative film that makes it online debut today (watch it above). Director Julian Marshall is fresh out of the Rhode Island School of Design, Fairey’s alma mater and the setting for the 23-minute film. Based on the true story of Fairey’s first act of street art, Obey the Giant is something of a portrait of the artist as a young skate punk–challenging a big-city mayor (the oleaginous Buddy Cianci, played by Keith Jochim) and the powers that be at art school.

“We moved heaven and earth to make this film,” Marshall (pictured below) told us of the ambitious project, for which he raised $65,000 through Kickstarter last spring. “Pre-production was about six weeks. We had to build an army of people, elaborate sets, a 27,000-pound billboard, and pull together an insane amount of props from the 1990s. It was an amazing time though. My crew and I truly became a family.” The Washington, D.C. native, now based in NYC and at the helm of his own film production company, told us more about how Obey the Giant came to be and the hot-button issue he’s planning to tackle next.

How and when did you first encounter Shepard Fairey’s work?
I first encountered Shep’s work on my first skateboard back in the 90s. I had just bought a World Industries deck and the shop owner slapped an “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” sticker on it.

What compelled you to make a film about him?
One morning, I was lying in bed, staring at the OBEY icon poster on my wall that Shep had given me when I interned for him, and I thought: Well, what better story to tell as a RISD student than a story of a RISD student? I had the connection to Shep having worked for him, so I emailed his wife, Amanda, pitched her the project, and a week later I heard back and she said, “Okay, Shepard’s really excited about the project, come out to L.A. and let’s talk about it.”

How did you decide on the format of this project, in terms of making it a narrative film rather than a documentary?
Documentaries don’t particularly interest me from a directorial standpoint. I love the intensity and edginess of the process of making motion pictures. So naturally, when I first thought of this story, I conceived of it in narrative terms.
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Marc Jacobs, Zaha Hadid, Banksy Among Time 100

time_100.jpgEarlier this week, Time celebrated its annual selection of the 100 most influential people in the world with a gala in New York, and while we’re suspicious of any list that includes both Ashton Kutcher and Amartya Sen, we enjoy the logistical wonder that is the Time 100 double issue. The massive editorial effort, led by assistant managing editor Radhika Jones, commissions a diverse group of notable figures—many of them Time 100 alumna—to write a paragraph or two about the chosen influencers. Yes, this strategy can result in a Ted Nugent-penned paean to Sarah Palin, who he would “be proud to share a moose-barbecue campfire with” provided that he can shoot the moose, and Palin’s own ode to Glenn Beck (“America’s professor of common sense”), but it also gives us Ruth Reichl on David Chang (“Whipped tofu with sea urchins and tapioca? Bring it on!”) and sphere-headed prophet and monkey newsman Karl Pilkington on Ricky Gervais (“He opens the locks on toilet doors with a coin when I’m using them”).

Time tapped Shepard Fairey to muse on the elusive Banksy, who created this self-portrait for the magazine. “He has a gift: an ability to make almost anyone very uncomfortable,” writes Fairey. “He doesn’t ignore boundaries: he crosses them to prove their irrelevance.” Ryan Pfluger‘s elegant full-bleed photo of Marc Jacobs, standing pensively beside his desk (on which sits a Philippe Starck for Flos gun lamp) offsets Victoria Beckham‘s less than memorable prose (“You can always tell when someone is wearing Marc Jacobs,” she writes, wrong-headedly, considering the designer’s astonishingly diverse output). Meanwhile, Donna Karan discusses Zaha Hadid—who is grouped with the thinkers, not the artists—and compares her buildings to a gust of wind: “organic, forceful, and utterly natural.” Our favorite matchup? Steve Jobs as exalted by Apple fan Jeff Koons, who brings his usual up-with-people verve while invoking a rival operating system. Writes Koons, “The tools [Jobs] has given us, from the Macs at my studio to the iPhone in my pocket, are like clean new windows, fitting between our selves and our work elegantly, naturally, and unobtrusively.”

Maybe Shepard Fairey Obeyed a Little Too Much


Didja ever wonder where Shepard Fairey comes up with all that kooky street art stuff? According to Mark Vallen, he’s not coming up with it at all. Thanks to the keen eyes over at Design Observer, we came across this incredibly in-depth article at Art for a Change which takes pretty much every poster he’s made over the course of his career and lines it up, side-by-side with the famous propagandist imagery that he’s supposedly ripping off. We’ve heard all this before, of course, but what sets this analysis apart is the searing language (he calls Fairey a plagiarist right there in the title) and the exhaustive research completed by a team of artists and historians.

The only thing missing, of course, is the above comparison, cleverly pastiched together by our panel of experts, who demand that Fairey issue an immediate and effusive apology to Rob Reiner, director of The Princess Bride.

Anti-fashion Photography, Shepard Fairey & Car-Free LA: A Half-Day at PSFK


We were only able to spend the morning at the PSFK Los Angeles conference due to our slammed afternoon schedule of ab-gawking. Cordial host Piers Fawkes was even more witty and dapper in person than we imagined him to be (like an extra in a Hugh Grant movie), but we couldn’t figure out why he kept changing the schedule on us. Luckily, the reordered roster was actually much better.

Director of Photography at Getty Images Andrew Delaney was the perfect opening to the conference with a stunning collection of images that beautifully illustrated the changing digital photo market. This was especially fitting since the next “why LA matters” panel talked almost exclusively about the work of the Cobra Snake. You’d think he was head of the cultural affairs commission the way panelists Adriana Parcero, Tony Pierce, Emmanuelle Richard, Jeff Miller and Shana Nys Dambrot were able to tie him into so many aspects of LA’s importance. (Wow, is this really what you think of us? Are we just the Cory Kennedys of the world?) But it was an interesting point in terms of LA’s image, which leads us to ask again: Why is it that New Yorkers put together the most provocative panels on LA culture?

The next LA-focused panel on living without a car was intriguing (especially since we’d taken the bus there ourselves), but failed to deliver. GreenLAGirl Siel and MetroRiderLA Frederick Dennstedt gave inspirational mojo to the car-free lifestyle, but transit advocate Kymberleigh Richards infused the discussion with such militant, anti-government rhetoric it might have scared people away. The point of a weird film by Refreshment at the end might have been that even a good-looking, well-dressed person can take the subway, walk or ride their bikes in LA. It was insulting to those of us who do.

If the future of content is as boring as the next panel on it was, we’re all in big trouble. A question in the Q&A summed it up nicely: “From what I’ve heard everyone say it feels like it’s all about making money. Where does making good content fit into your model?” Ouch. We learned a lot about bad content–as in massive stereotyping in the Hispanic market–from Juan Guillermo Tornoe, Jennifer Woodward and David Morse during their entertaining discussion on how American marketers and advertisers get Latino culture dead wrong.

And finally, recent conference darling Shepard Fairey gave his typical crowd-pleasing presentation, which pleasantly did touch upon quite a lot of his commercial work (although he casually mentioned more than he actually showed). We had to split after that, but on our way out we noted that Fawkes nailed one important LA detail: Lunch was catered by Joan’s on Third, a good sign of things to come.

loud paper Returns With a Bang


After a decade existing as potentially marked-for-death printed matter, Mimi Zeiger‘s zine loud paper has finally succumbed to its more natural blog form. But bringing the potent blend of architecture, pop culture, design, art, and music to the world wide web wasn’t an easy call, sayz Miz Z:

Since the zine is a proto-blog of sorts, it seems inevitable that loud paper would end up in this format. I tried to resist, I had my excuses, but the call of the keyboard was too great.

In this new incarnation loud paper is part per-zine, travelogue, marketing machine, and wunderkammer, but it will also remain true to the original mission to provide a forum for multiple voices. This summer I resurrected the nearly-forgotten Boring Issue from obscurity, posting several essays and updates from a few contributors. More installments to come. Also, get ready for a new call for submissions later this fall.

An archive has interviews with people like Doug Aitken, Jorge Pardo and Shepard Fairey, but you’d do well to stick closely to the new stuff: Zeiger definitely knows how to make herself heard.

QBN Session #1: Live and In Concert

The cool kids at QBN just sold out their first-ever conference this past Friday in LA, so we asked cool kid Tom Dolan what he thought about it. Photo by Jessey White-Cinis, more here.


First, organizing and selling out a $200+ full day-long design seminar on a busy workday Friday in Los Angeles should be recognized as no easy task. Having it at Richard Meier‘s posh Getty digs and featuring a world-class lineup is coup number two. That the QBN boys pulled off their their first “Session” event without a glitch (accomplishment #3) should impress–and be a sign of good things to come from the upstart design org on the block.

Clearly differentiated in tone and content from anything you’d be likely see from the self-anointed Professional Organization for Design*, perhaps the sharpest take-away from Friday’s event was confirmation that there is a strong pulse to contemporary design worldwide–and it’s distinctly cross-media, with output ranging from motion to print to interactive to photo to film. Unexpected highlight: Intro graphics from Logan, which were over-the-top super. Unexpected lowlight: Emcee Miss Shiny Pants–wherever they got her, don’t go back next time.

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PSFK Heads West


One of our favorite daily stops, PSFK, is hosting what looks to be a stellar conference full of design and culture figures this September 18 in LA. Shepard Fairey will be there, giving some choice comments about the intersection of art and commerce (and hopefully not from a hospital bed). Nokia futurist Adriana Parcero gathers a crew to talk about Los Angeles culture: Tony Pierce (LAist), Emmanuelle Richard (Vogue), Jeff Miller (Thrillist LA), Shana Nys Nambrot (Flavorpill LA).

David Merkoski of Frog Design leads another panel on the future of entertainment content and Starbucks trend maven Jean-Marie Shields explains what’s brewing for the coffee chain. And this one we can’t wait to see: Missy, founder of Suicide Girls, explains how she took a different route to create differentiation in the mainstream.

More speakers here; tickets and more information here.

Van Halen Hot For Typographers


An informant tipped us that last night’s AIGA/LA & House Industries event at the Eames Office would be star-studded but we had no idea how studded it would be. Normally we would have gotten all excited about Shepard Fairey and Coop, who were both spotted in the crowd but it turns out Alex Van Halen and David Lee Roth were also in attendance. They’re the big smilers with House’s Andy Cruz, above. Even if plans for their reunion tour haven’t quite solidified, it appears that when it comes to design, they might as well jump.

We’re calling it right now. A Van Halen-inspired font is in House’s future.

Shepard Fairey Appearing on Today’s “Design Matters” Live From His Hospital Bed


We were extremely concerned about recent Splasher Target Shepard Fairey earlier today when we heard he was in the hospital. Was the anti-street art pressure getting to him? Did the Splasher go too far?

Turns out, the Godfather of American Street Art went in for some emergency eye surgery last night, cancelling his appearance on “Design Matters” today. However, we just got word that Fairey was still a bit groggy when the powers that be made that decision, and as soon as he woke up, he demanded that he do the show. So, Fairey joins Debbie Millman today on the final “Design Matters” show of the year, live from his hospital bed. What a way to end the season!

Listen live from 3-4 EST, and remember, it’s a call-in show: 1.866.472.5790 There’s more info about today’s show (and all Design Matters shows) here.

Splasher Suspect Arrested; Manifesto Appears at Another Fairey Show


The keen eyes of Spencer Cross spotted this story about the bust of the supposed Splasher (who was nabbed trying to stink up Shepard Fairey‘s show last week). Suspect James Cooper swears he didn’t do it, but two nights later, two people showed up to another Fairey event and distributed tabloids entitled “If we did it this is how it would’ve happened.” In it, they criticize Fairey, Swoon, Faile, Visual Resistance, and Marc and Sara Schiller at Wooster Collective, as well as claiming they were responsible for Banksy and Neckface splashings.

You can spend hours poring over the whole thing since the NY Times has posted the entire Splasher Manifesto online as PDFs, but after reading through most of it ourselves we’d recommend not wasting your time. Like most anonymous manifestos, it wanders, to say the least. And it’s just begging to be tacked up somewhere and splashed with paint.