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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shepard Fairey

It's been a busy month for Shepard Fairey - first he was arrested on the eve of his opening at the ICA. An interesting first hand account of Fairey's arrest can be seen at the Wooster Collective.

He then filed a lawsuit against the AP, who have accused him of copyright infringement regarding his HOPE Obama poster, objecting to his use of Mannie Garcia's photo of Barack Obama. It's hard to imagine that the AP could win in a court of law - while Garcia's photo was clearly used as Fairey's starting point, his final work is a translation of the photo, with new meanings and intent fueling the piece, and it should fall under the Fair Use copyright law.

You might also recall that last year Shepard Fairey filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against Austin-based artist Baxter Orr, stating that his work violated Fairey's trademark. Orr took Fairey's iconic Obey Giant face and covered it with a SARS respiratory mask, titling it "Protect", and also modified his HOPE poster, creating a DOPE poster with Obama's portrait. While I don't think that Orr's work is all that great, I do think that his artwork has the same repurposing/recontextualizing spirit as all of Fairey's work, so it surprises me that Fairey filed a suit against Orr. What do you all think - is this a double standard, or was Shepard Fairey justified in filing this lawsuit against Orr?


  1. I wonder if there were political underpinnings to Shepard Fairey, law suit. It seems that Shepard doesn’t like Orr’s opinion of Obama. So much for freedom of expression in both cases.

  2. Feels like a double standard to me.
    Then again, from photo to graphic illustration seems like a bit bigger jump than Baxter's work,which is obviously a play-on of Shepard.

  3. Shepard Fairey should be called out on stealing from minority artists and for twisting the message of other artists. I read articles that open my eyes to how horrible he is as a man. He does not allow artist to comment visually on his art but takes, takes, takes all he can from minority artists and photographers. If he thinks that fair use is creative freedom he should accept that artists will comment on his work visually and profit from it just as he does. NPR did not ask him about any of his contradictions and ICA did not either. He is a hypocrite and steals culture for his own profit and messages. He is a rightest selling a leftist message for his own fame and fortune. Support the ASL group in exposing this fraud. Please read and see what he does from the words of this man who has been critical of this artist,


    And the Supertouch article bashing Mr. Vallen is bogus. They only bash Mr. Vallen becauses Vallen is a true revolutionary artist and mentor of the streets. They do it because Mr. Fairey makes them money.



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