A graphic designer that should be included in the 3rd edition of Graphic Design: A New History is Shepard Fairey. Shepard Fairey is an American street artist and graphic designer (born February 15, 1970) (Britannica Academic). He is one of the most well known street artists.
He is best known for his 2008 “HOPE” poster of Barack Obama for his presidential campaign. His other well known work is his OBEY image. He creates designs that are bold, thought provoking and meaningful. Through his work, he wants the audience to question authority (Caruso, Hwa Young).
As a teenager, Fairey was interested in street art and skateboard culture.
In 1989, he started his sticker campaign which was a portrait of professional wrestler Andre the Giant. This bold, simple stencil design was composed of three colours (white, black, and red), with the word OBEY beneath the image. Fairey sold more than one million copies of the sticker and it quickly gained worldwide attention (Britannica Academic). This design was seen pasted up and spray painted on walls all around the world. However, since the majority of his work was illegal, he was arrested several times for vandalizing public places (Caruso, Hwa Young).
Iconic obey poster by Shepard Fairey
In 2008, Fairey designed the iconic “HOPE” poster used for Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. Fairey had illustrated the image based off a photograph of Obama. He screen printed the illustration and used only 3 colours: blue, red, and white which he used to represent the American flag colours. It became so popular that people all over the world started creating their own versions of the poster. In fact, there is a website created to help you design your own “obama style” poster at http://obamapostermaker.com/.
His bold, simple work takes elements of pop art and soviet constructivism.
Fairey’s campaign poster combined street art and politics. This was something that hadn’t really been done at this level before.
Shepard Fairey’s design not only became one of the most iconic campaign posters, but he also changed the way we see street art and street artists. Fairey was able to use his skills and knowledge from street artist and create designs that became memorable worldwide. His work started off in the streets then to smaller exhibitions then eventually to major galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, London, Berlin,Tokyo, and more (Caruso, Hwa Young). He proved that street art is a valid form of art, and that it could go beyond the streets.
Fairey, along with some other well-known designers and artists such as Banksy, transformed the way street art is seen. Graffiti and street art which was normally seen in alleyway, streets, and other public places was now being displayed in art galleries and museums. Fairey was doing both legal and illegal artwork. He proved that street artists could make it globally.
“Shepard Fairey.” Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 25 Jan. 2017. academic-eb-com.ocadu.idm.oclc.org/levels/collegiate/article/Shepard-Fairey/627672. Accessed 3 Apr. 2019.
Caruso, Hwa Young. “The art of Shepard Fairey: questioning everything.” International Journal of Multicultural Education, vol. 10, no. 2, 2008. Academic OneFile, http://link.galegroup.com/apps/doc/A420051820/AONE?u=toro37158&sid=AONE&xid=d8114824. Accessed 3 Apr. 2019.