New "What's In My Bag?" Episode with Shepard Fairey

Posted by Amoebite, August 6, 2019 03:32pm | Post a Comment

Shepard Fairey - What's In My Bag?

Acclaimed street artist, graphic designer, and social activist Shepard Fairey (Obey Giant) did some shopping recently at Amoeba Hollywood and sat down with us for a What's In My Bag? episode! He shared some of his favorite records and album covers, and talked about how The Clash's London Calling is the embodiment of punk, the way graphic design serves as a visual parallel to what's happening in the music, and the pleasurable inconvenience of vinyl.

Shepard Fairey is the American street artist, activist, and graphic designer behind the iconic Obey Giant and Obama "HOPE" designs. He first became active in the early '80s, sharing his artwork on t-shirts and skateboards while still a teenager. While attending the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989, Fairey created his first instantly recognizable work: the André the Giant Has a Posse sticker campaign, which later evolved into the Obey Giant. After graduating from RISD, Fairey opened Alternate Graphics, a small printhouse that produced his t-shirt and sticker designs. In the late '90s, Fairey opened guerilla marketing firm BLK/MRKT Inc.; during this time, he designed Mozilla's red dinosaur logo. Fairey launched the OBEY Clothing company in 2001 as a way to bring activism to everyday design. He and his wife Amanda Fairey founded the Studio Number One design agency in 2003. Highlights of their work include the poster for the film Walk the Line, plus album covers for The Smashing Pumpkins (Zeigeist), Led Zeppelin (Mothership), and Flogging Molly (Whiskey on a Sunday).

We The People Shepard FaireyIn 2008, Fairey designed a series of posters in support of the Barack Obama campaign; including the original HOPE design, he also designed versions dedicated to PROGRESS, CHANGE, and VOTE. That year, he also designed Obama's Person of the Year cover of Time magazine. His second Time cover came in 2011, when the magazine commissioned him to design an image dedicated to that year's Person of the Year, "The Protester," inspired by the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and other protest movements around the globe. In 2014, Fairey journeyed to Johannesburg, where he painted a nine-foot-high public art mural of Nelson Mandela. His "We the People" series of posters was released in 2017 as a protest against the inauguration of Donald Trump. Among the many activist organizations Fairey has supported are the ACLU, Chiapas Relief Fund, Feeding America, and the Art of Elysium. OBEY Clothing's Obey Awareness Program has supported causes including pet adoption, Darfur relief, and environmental protection.

Shepard Fairey is a longtime fan of The Clash and recalled asking his grandparents to buy London Calling for him. "They were the ones that pointed it out to me that this was a sort of homage, or a subversion, of Elvis Presley's first cover," he told us referring to the pink and green lettering adorning the sleeve. Although the cover art caught his attention, the music holds a deeper meaning for him. "This is the record when The Clash, to me, really find the courage to move beyond the more orthadox version of punk," he explained. "This album is sort of the embodiment of punk, not just as a style, but as a way of thinking."

Another punk album whose graphic design stook out to him was The Damned's Stiff Singles 1976-1977, a collection of the UK punk band's first five singles. "I always liked the marketing and stuff that Stiff Records did," he continued, talking of the punk label's clever advertising. "I love The Damned. I've got a lot of Damned records." 

Pulling out a copy of the new Karen O / Danger Mouse collaboration Lux Prima, Fairey spoke of the virutes of listening to vinyl records. "Vinyl ensures that music, even consuming music, is a participatory thing," he said. "You sit there, you put the record on, you hang out because it's gonna end and then you gotta flip it. You know it sort of commands you to focus on the music itself and it's a really valuable way to bond with people, and a really enjoyable ritual."

But which band does he consider "proto-punk?" You'll have to watch the video to find out:

Shepard Fairy - What's In My Bag?
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The Damned (9), Elvis Presley (26), London Calling (1), The Clash (17), Street Art (9), Graphic Design (2), What's In My Bag (381), Amoeba Hollywood (882), Obey Giant (1), Shepard Fairey (12), Stiff Singles 1976-1977 (1), Karen O (9), Danger Mouse (6), Lux Prima (1)