Price of Fame Catches Up With Vandal Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey likes to think of himself as a graffiti artist, street artist, master of marketing, and a man above the law. The young and college art students around the country think he’s the – whatever the word they use for someone who is cool. Many of them want to be Fairey wan-a-bees. He may be a talented artists and super designer, but I’ll always think of him as a vandal – a person who maliciously destroys property – public and private. No matter where his career goes – part of his legacy will always be as a vandal.

Fairey is a Charleston, SC, native, who attended the College of Charleston, and placed thousands and thousands of “Obey” (Andre the Giant) stickers plastered on just about everything in Charleston and throughout the country. That’s what got him fame to begin with. Now, young art students and street punks who want to be as famous as he is – are putting their stickers everywhere on everything. Designing a small sticker is about all the talent they have. Soon, another nickname for Charleston will be Graffiti Town.

During Barack Obama’s run for the Presidency, Fairey lifted an image from an Associated Press photo to create his popular poster of Obama known as “Hope”. It became so popular the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC, purchased it for its collection. But now, he is being sued by AP and counter-suing AP over the rights of the use of the image. On the way to his first solo exhibit in Boston, MA, Boston police arrested Fairey on two charges of graffiti vandalism. Nice way to start your exhibit career.

It seems that Fairey’s past is catching up with his fame.

I was young once and liked sticking it to the man, but I never destroyed other people’s property doing so. Lots of young people haven’t paid for what they have and don’t own much property yet, but once they do put their hard earned money into property or taxes for public facilities – I hope they see the other side of street art and graffiti. They don’t have a right – even the excuse of not being grown up yet, or to destroy other people’s property or public property. Tax dollars and human resources are being wasted cleaning up Fairey’s art and his follower’s art.

I wonder what Fairey and his adoring followers would think if the people they have vandalized went to his studio and home in LA and trashed it – while he was spending time in jail – protesting his view on his right to use other people’s property as his canvas?

If this view makes me an old fart who doesn’t know art or how to have fun anymore – so be it. Hopefully, those who don’t get it will grow up someday.

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