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Post-“Hope” Poster: Shepard Fairey on Art, Advertising, and Propaganda

The acclaimed artist talks to Co.Create about his OBEY brand, Sex Pistols lyrics, and the magic of murals.

Shepard Fairey likes to describe his politically charged posters, paintings, and murals as “propaganda,” but propagation, by any means necessary, plays an equally important role in the Los Angeles artist’s operating philosophy. The approach dates to 1989, when Fairey, inspired by punk rock and skateboard DIY culture, reworked a randomly selected photograph of actor Andre the Giant. The image went viral the old-fashioned way, spread by Fairey and his fans via stickers, stencils, rubber stamps, and wheat-paste posters. Paired with the slogan “Obey,” lifted from 1988 horror film They Live, Fairey made his mark in cities all around the world with these cryptic signifiers of mindless authoritarian culture.

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