Foul Play Giant

I've always had a bad taste in my mouth from the folks who gush over the work of Shepard Fairey. And now I'm snickering to myself that his legal counsel is abandoning him after it was revealed that he lied about which source he stole from / traced over for the Obama Hope poster.

Fairey represents a lot of what I don't like about the art world - arrogant double-standards. His work is entirely derivative if not outright stolen, which in itself is not offensive to me. There's nothing wrong with appropriation when proper attribution is given. Yet he continually passes himself off as original, and profits from creativity that simply wasn't his - without giving proper credit where it is clearly due. In fact, he outright lies about his sources. And Fairey is clearly lying for the sake of his own celebrity and profit, not for the sake of art.

I've always insisted that the work that put him on the map, Andre the Giant has a Posse and the resulting Obey work, were obviously inspired by John Carpenter's They Live - which starred a pro wrestler and featured subliminal outdoor advertising messages that read "obey" (among other Big Brotherly imperatives). Too many coincidences.

Given that it's now common practice to sue musicians for sampling even small portions of someone else's work without permission and/or payment, Fairey deserves to be held responsible for his actions. It's clear that his primary concern is being a celebrity; perhaps his ego prevents him from being honest about his work, his process and his tremendous debt to pop and fringe culture that preceded him and all of his sordid merchandising.

Fairey is complicit in the ugly corporatization of celebrity - at the expense of honesty, integrity and authenticity. It pains me that only the Obama poster is drawing this fact into the public discourse.