Widely known for Obama’s 2008 “Hope” poster, contemporary street artist and activist Shepard Fairey created two posters to aid students with their #NationalSchoolWalkout yesterday. According to EMPOWER, the National Women’s March group that sponsored the march, the campaign drew over 3,000 walkouts all over the country including London.
The students are protesting stricter gun control after last month’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida which left 17 dead.
The posters “Schools Not Warzones” and “An Assault On Our Future” are both free downloads via Fairey’s creative agency, Studio Number One.
It is cool to be a rebel, to rage against the machine, whether the machine is government or Fortune 500 companies.
However, what happens when the artists that criticize mass consumption are the ones contributing to it?
Hypebeast explores the contradiction of art and commerce through the works of artists KAWS, Ron English, and Shepard Fairey.
Famous for creating the “XX” logo, he has since designed clothes for Kanye and UNIQLO. He also designed a Macy’s Parade balloon.
The so-called “Godfather of Street Art” has designed shoes for Vans and made album art for artists such as Chris Brown and Pearl Jam.
The artist is responsible for creating Andre the Giant Has a Posse posters and the image for Obama’s 2008 election campaign. He’s since sold his Obey clothing into stores like Urban Outfitters.
Altogether, these artists were former street art rebels who have segued into becoming legitimate participants of the industry by continuing to grasp each rung of the art and business ladder
When artists become business people, it tends to upset the niche group of fans that followed them in the first place. We see the same thing in music. Former underground producer Diplo now makes beats for Justin Bieber.
The balance between making art and commerce is a creator’s challenge. As grime pioneer, Dizzee Rascal said in a recent interview with Pharrell Wiliams: “What happens when these people start to agree with you?”
The artist rejects the system but then gets paid for making it look cooler, even if it comes as off as “selling out.”
You may not get, at first glance, what’s going on in his paintings, but you get that there’s something to get. So you look again. And again. Which is, of course, a marketer’s dream.
The best marketers create mysteries. Apple excels at keeping its customers guessing and fantasizing about new releases. But sometimes the mystery behind a product is in the name.
OBEY, for example, thrives on its own eponymous obscurity. Below is a snippet from the OBEY manifesto written by its creator Shepard Fairey:
Because OBEY has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and the nature of their sensibilities.
Marketing can be both blunt and misunderstood at the same time. The perspective is really up to the sensibilities of the individual. If you haven’t been exposed to a variety if things then you’ll be remain blind or bewildered.
Why do you need to even get the message in the first place? Let confusion remain indefinite.