Shepard Fairey Facts

Shepard Fairey is an American street artist, graphic designer, and the founder of the OBEY Giant campaign and the OBEY Clothing line.

Facts About Shepard Fairey

  • Shepard Fairey was born Frank Shepard Fairey in 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina, US.
  • His father was a doctor and his mother was a realtor (estate agent).
  • He started to experiment with art in 1984, adding his drawings to skateboards and T-shirts.
  • He transferred from Porter Gaud High School to attend Idyllwild Arts Academy in California. He graduated in 1988.
  • In 1988, he moved to Rhode Island and went to the Rhode Island School of Design and studied for a Fine Arts degree in illustration.
  • Shepard Fairey created his famous Andre the Giant Has a Posse sticker in 1989. This morphed into the Obey Giant movement, where other artists replicated the design and shared it in their locality.
  • He wasn’t intending for the Obey Giant campaign to become a worldwide phenomenon.

At first I was only thinking about the response from my clique of art school and skateboard friends. The fact that a larger segment of the public would not only notice, but investigate, the unexplained appearance of the stickers was something I had not contemplated.

Shepard Fairey

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  • The Obey Giant was inspired by the movie They Live by John Carpenter. Several of the movement’s slogans (Obey and This Is Your God) were borrowed from the movie’s script.
  • In the early 1990s, Shepard Fairey set up his own T-shirt printing business.
  • In 1995, a documentary was made about Shepard Fairey called Andre the Giant Has a Posse. It has been shown at more than 70 film festivals around the world.
  • In 1997, along with Dave Kinsey and Phillip DeWolff, Shepard Fairey established the BLK/MARKT design studio, focused on producing guerilla marketing campaigns for clients. The company lasted until 2003, and its clients included Pepsi, Netscape, and Hasbro.
  • Shepard Fairey has produced artwork for several bands and music artists, including The Black Eyed Peas, The Smashing Pumpkins, Led Zeppelin, Anthrax, Mission of Burma, DJ Shadow, Chuck D, Bahaus, and Stone Temple Pilots.
  • He co-founded Swindle magazine with Roger Gastman.
  • Shepard Fairey has released several books of his artwork, including Supply and Demand: The Art of Shepard Fairey, and Philosophy of Obey (Obey Giant).
  • In 2009, Shepard Fairey was arrested in Boston on his way to his own art show on two outstanding warrants related to graffiti relating to postering.
  • His posters created to support Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign to become the President of the United States featured a stylised image of the candidate’s face with either the words HOPE, CHANGE or VOTE. During the campaign, 300,000 stickers were produced, and 500,000 posters were printed.
  • An image based on the Obama poster was printed on the cover of Time magazine.
  • The Obama HOPE portrait has since become part of the US National Portrait Gallery’s permanent collection.
  • In 2014, Shepard Fairey painted a 9-story high mural of Nelson Mandela. It is located on Juta Street in Braamfontein, Johannesburg, South Africa.
  • Shepard Fairey is a type 1 diabetic.
  • He has put on dozens of solo exhibitions of his work in cities all over the world, including London, LA, New York, Boston, Malaga, Grenoble, Paris, and Canberra. His work has also featured in numerous group exhibitions.
  • He has two daughters.
  • He DJs as DJ Diabetic and MC Insulin, nods to his Type 1 diabetes.
  • Shepard Fairey designed the wedding invites for the marriage of Russell Brand and Katy Perry. He also designed the cover of Russell Brand’s second autobiography, Booky Wook 2
  • In 2020 he produced a cover for Rolling Stone magazine featuring Greta Thunberg.
  • His artwork Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité has been hanging in the office of the President of France since 2017.
  • He has produced more than 1000 pieces of artwork during his career.