A Fairey In Shoreditch

by Atusa Tehrani

It was just a normal Monday afternoon, as I was strolling down Ebor Street in Shoreditch I wasn’t expecting to stumble upon one of the world’s most influential street artists, Shepard Fairey.

Fairey, a skateboarding, American contemporary graphic designer and illustrator is the creator of ‘Obey Giant’, a street art campaign based on design. The campaigns intention was to influence people to become aware of their surroundings and create a curiosity amongst the masses. You wouldn’t have guessed there was such a deep concept behind the ‘Obey’ logo we see all over clothes and hats today. He’s also widely known for his popular Barack Obama “Hope” poster in 2008 during the presidential elections in America.

And all the way from the US, standing here in the heart of Shoreditch was the controversial artist himself, creating a historic piece of street art before our eyes. A few moments later, the once quiet street had welcomed a number of people, stopped in their tracks by this fascinating piece of art. Many of them weren’t sure what was going on but were captivated by intrigue, as a sense of excitement ran through the air.

I was lucky enough to grab the attention of the man himself to learn a bit about the design. He was modest, and yet passionate, with one eye on the artwork at all times. The print that was being painted read the words “THIS DECADE ONLY! SHOPLIFTERS WELCOME!” It is a collaborative piece with Jamie Reid, graphic designer to the Sex Pistols, and was inspired by the sticker that Reid created in the 70’s, reading the words “THIS WEEK ONLY: THIS STORE WELCOMES SHOPLIFTERS”.

Fairey, whose own gallery in Los Angeles is Called Subliminal Projects, has worked with Reid before and is a huge fan of the Sex Pistols, he said: “The sex pistols and Jamie Reid are a big influence on my work; Steve Jones is a good friend of mine.” He went on to explain that the print combines their mutual views on corruption in wealth and reflects the themes of Occupy Wall Street. This concept is relevant to the banking industry, its purpose is to express that Wall Street is permitting ‘shoplifting’ and the lack of regulation that exists within it. The editions were created in celebration of Reid’s Ragged Kingdom exhibition which was on March 16 April 14, 2012.

Through this controversial piece of street art they will no doubt spread their message and raise awareness whilst adding colour to the lovely streets of Shoreditch. Shepard Fairey will be exhibiting his work at the Sound & Vision exhibition as well as launching his first UK OBEY Clothing flagship Pop-Up Store between 19th October – 4th November 2012 at The Old Truman Brewery, 91 Brick Lane, London E1 6QL. Music producer and Dj, Z-Trip has created a soundtrack to reflect the artwork and will be showcased on the night. This unique night is not one to be missed, see you there!