Shepard Fairey is an American street artist and designer known for creating the OBEY street art campaign. Over the course of the 21st century, the OBEY icon (taken from his Andre the Giant Has a Posse 1989 sticker campaign) has evolved into one of the most controversial and recognisable symbols in popular culture.
Whether creating stencil art for the street, designing a t-shirt or producing a poster, Shepard Fairey’s artwork is designed as a rebellion against social and political injustice. His 1989 OBEY sticker and poster campaign was a response to the effects of subliminal commercialism on audiences – his attempt to stimulate curiosity in the viewer, leading them to question their surroundings. The OBEY image was so popular, it went viral – spreading far and wide throughout urban America: on street signs, billboards and walls – in fact, OBEY has since become a global clothing brand. Retaining the political and social ethos of the street art campaign, the brand is well known for incorporating politically and socially provocative propaganda into the designs, and OBEY has become a worldwide phenomenon: from its clothing and wallpaper, to its books.
Fairey continues to create posters and limited edition prints that advocate political ideologies. His iconic 2008 HOPE poster campaign for Barack Obama was reproduced over 300,000 times and, like OBEY itself, has become a symbol of modern society with New Yorker art critic, Peter Schjeldahl, saying “the most efficacious American political illustration since ‘Uncle Sam Wants You.'”
In 2015 Fairey was also commissioned to suspend a giant hanging globe – titled Earth Crisis – from the Eiffel Tower and create several murals across the city highlighting the growing concerns about climate change before the Conference of Parties (COP21) that year.