Artist of Choice: Shepard Fairy, founder of Obey Giant.
Shepard Fairy was born in 1970, and accidentally started his obey sticker campaign at his 19, in 1989, when he was explaining the stencil making proces to a fellow student. They picked a random picture from a newspaper, and it turned out the be Andre the Giant. They start printing and distributing the first Andre the Giant has a posse stickers and other campaign material.
Their first street art/propaganda style campaign was born. One year later, Fairy released his Manifesto, describing this campaign as an experiment in phenomenology. What follows is the full manifesto, with some personal highlights:
The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology. Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation.
The first aim of phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The obey sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings.
Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because OBEY has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities. Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The PARANOID OR CONSERVATIVE VIEWER however may be confused by the sticker’s persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed by them, considering them an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily.
Harmony & Discord, Pace Prints
In 2012, economic circumstances similar to our situation today, inspired Shepard to make this series of images/posters. Hoping to show through his work how large corporations had too much power over legislation.
Source of these images is a 2012 documentary by Pace Prints, about Shepard Fairy printing these posters to be exhibited at their space in New York City.
The work consists out of 3 or 5 layers of screenprinting over a layer of collage, with added stenciling (spraypaints) done on top. (sanded and varnished afterwards)
He starts making his own paper by stenciling and screenprinting subtle textures and patterns to create a canvas that “gives the surface a feel of layering, that it has had a life, that there is an accumulation of materials just like we experience as we go through things day to day.”
I chose this artist and his work because it can help us better understand the effects and impact of printed media, through his research explained in his manifesto. His printing, painting and collage-techniques and propaganda style is also a visual inspiration for us.