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FauxAmi Interview
Shepard Fairey (aka Obey)

by Daniel Schmid and Jürgen Blümlein

Artist Shepard Fairey is truly the anti-authoritarian poster child. The international notoriety achieved by his Andre the Giant paper campaign offers us, if nothing else, gloriously ironic proof of the power of advertising. For over a decade, from Tokyo to London to Philadelphia to San Francisco, posters of the deceased, larger-than-life WWF star have proliferated like goofy Orwellian/Constructivist icons, issuing vague threats like BUY, SUBMIT, OBEY.

We met Shepard Fairey by accident at the Melrose Ave.
More about that you will find after the interview.

More about Shepards work you will find here:




Hi Shepard. First of all, how old are you and where are you from?

Hi there. I am 34 years old and I come from Charlston, South Carolina.

When did you start skating and do you remember your first boards ?

Oh, I started skating in 1984. The first skateboard I bought was a Bert Lamar from Sims. I remember all the boards I had. Just to name a few :
Alva Hosoi (before the Hammerhead, with a fishtail & the Japanese sun graphic)
Vision Ogus, Gator
Alva, Eddie Rategui
Schmitt Stix Lucero, Monty Nolder
89’ SMA Jessie Martinez (handshake design)

Do you still have all of them?

No, I threw them all away after I broke them. I mean it was the jumpramp era. The boards broke like crazy. And then at the time when I started skating handrails and stuff.



What is the relation between your artwork and skateboarding ?

Well, I have been into drawing since I was a kid. Skateboarding brought me into the kind of art I am doing today. It all started when I bought my first skateboard. They were showing the video “Skate Visions” and I really got stoked on the soundtrack. And immediately I wanted to check out Agent Orange and got into bands like Suicidal Tendencies, The Clash and the Sex Pistols. I really liked the artwork the bands were doing on their records. And since you couldn’t buy any Punk Rock t-shirts in my home town in South Carolina I started to cut out paper stencils and used them to make my own t-shirts. That was when I really got into art. You know the kind of art I am doing right now..
I was just putting my album covers on my moms’ Xerox machine and then cut out the xerox. ( of Misfits and Minor Threat..)I also made my own stickers. I was for example selling bootleg Independent stickers at my school. And the shirts were mainly for me and my friends

What materials do / did you use for your work?

First I was using spray paint stencils and then I learned how to silkscreen. But I was still using hand-cut paper stencils to silkscreen. And then later I used photo emulsion when I got to college.

So did you go to an Art school ?

Yeah, I went to Rhode Island School of Design. I studied Illustration but I did a lot of screen printing and other print making like lithographie and edging. But my main interest was always screen printing.




And how did you get in contact with Helen Stickler ?

Helen was also on the School of design but graduaded two years before me. So we didn’t meet while we were going through school. I actually got in contact with her for the first time when she had to clear out her locker. She was trying to get rid of her silkscreen colours, so I took them (laughs..)
Then in 1994 Coca-Cola was test marketing a new drink called “OK-Soda”.
Dan Claus (eightball comics) was doing the can design and it looked all griddy and slacky like the look that came along with the Grunge/ Slacker wave.
They were putting up stickers and posters on the street and I felt insulted because this big corporation tried to look all cool and underground. So I went and changed it from “OK” to “AG” (for “Andre the Giant”) and changed all the stuff around and I made my own posters. I measured their posters, cut mine to the exact size and put them over their posters. Helen saw all that stuff and found it really funny, so she approached me about doing a documentary about me and my work. By that time she already did a short movie which was running at the New York underground festival which did very well.
So we worked on that and she used to come over to my studio several times. I had a miniramp inside the studio and she knew how important skateboarding was to my development.
Then one day she saw a stack of Gator rip off stickers (with GIANT instead of Gator) and asked what it was all about.. I mean she knew who Gator was but nothing about the back story and so I told her about the murder and what happened to him after that.
She got very interested in the issue and started to research.
And that took her seven years before she finished with the incredible Gator documentary “Stoked"


The interview with Helen Stickler can you read here:
>> www.fauxami.de/helen_interview


And you did the artwork for that movie, right

Yes, I tried to capture the sort of Vision 80ies artwork with the graphic for Stoked


What about today’s skateboard graphics. Do you have any favourite artists?

I think my favourite is Evan Hecox. The graphics he does for chocolate are amazing. Then there is also Andy Jenkins and Thomas Campbell who’s work I really like

And do you have anything going on in the skateboard world? Do you still have time to go skating ?

Going skating is difficult because I hardly find the time to do so. It was great to have the miniramp in my old studio. So it was easy to skate every day. But I am just building up a new ramp in our warehouse.20 ft wide and 5 feet high. And it is almost ready.. Yeah.!
The stuff I recently did was for the NHS designarium where six different artists were asked to do their interpretation of the Natas Panter graphic. Jeff Kendall told me that my version was selling really well and I was stoked about that. Because back in 1987 me and a friend went to the Savannah Slammer contest and Jeff Kendall was one of the guys who really flashed us with his stylish tweaked frontside airs and stuff..
Another thing is the second PlanB deck series that is going to come out. My old friend Alfred who is the art director of PlanB asked me to do it. So I am doing a deck for each team member-Obey style..(Actually that is what I should be doing right now! laughs)



Did you get into any trouble doing the old-school rip-off stickers and shirts ? (VCJ: Ripper, Lester Kasai, Phillips: Roskopp, Humpston: Dogtown)

I don’t know if they even recognized it. But I put a short biography of each artist on the back of the stickers and inside the t-shirts. So I give them credit that way and help to keep their designs alive.

Ok thanks a lot for your time; See you tonight at the LODT-premiere!………........BUT THAT IS A DIFFERENT STORY

and you can read the story here:
>> Lords_Premiere.html

Fairey designed his first Andre stickers in 1989 while he was a student at the Rhode Island School of Design. The stickers sported the wrestler's face and the motto "Andre The Giant Has A Posse." Fairey plastered Providence with them. While skaters, punks, and taggers were gleeful, local cops and conservatives were definitely not. Fairey made thousands more of the stickers and sent them to friends across the country, who posted them everywhere. Suddenly Andre the Giant's posse was larger than Fairey had ever anticipated.























































































































>> www.swindlequarterly.com




It got a very nice spot in the FauxAmi Skateboard-Museum in Stuttgart.

>> www.skateboardfieber.de



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