Shepard Fairey said that Punk Rock and skateboarding saved his life. That sounds very dramatic, but the influence of music and skateboarding led Fairey to become one of the world’s most recognizable street artists.

Salad Days

Back in the days when he was putting his artwork on skateboards, Fairey saved what little money he had by using a printer at Kinkos. That limited his color choice to black and white, and occasionally, red, when he was able to rig the machine with a paper clip. Rather than limiting him, the muted colors motivated him to create designs that were crisp and dramatic.

The Sex Pistols, Public Enemy and other punk rock bands opened the young Shepard Fairey’s eyes to the possibilities of using art as a means of expressing social and political ideas. Shepard Fairey: Salad Days, 1989-1999 is one of the current exhibits at Detroit’s Cranbrook Art Museum. The exhibit looks at the first decade of Fairey’s career and how his first Andre the Giant and OBEY flyer became a recognizable image around the world. Also on display at the Cranbrook, complementing Salad Days, is an exhibit called Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986, showcasing much of the art that inspired Fairey. Shepard Fairey: Salad Days, 1989-1999 runs through October 7th.

Shepard Fairy Collaboration with Robert Plant

Shepard Fairey has contributed art work to Robert Plant’s video, New World. Proceeds from the video, which also include artwork by Ernesto Yerena, will go to the Honor the Earth foundation, whose mission is to create awareness and support for Native environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native communities.

Shepard Fairey Beyond the Streets

A showcase of contemporary graffiti and street art, called Beyond the Streets, is going on now in L.A. and will run through August 26th. On display are Shepard Fairey designs, applied to a limited edition of retro Eames chairs. The chairs were designed by Charles and Ray Eames and entered into The Museum of Modern Art’s International Design Competition in 1948. Fairey’s black and white design is a collage of patterns that fans of the artist will recognize.

The Global Mural Project in Aspen

Shepard Fairey’s Global Mural Project is an initiative to create public art works around the world, highlighting themes of equality and social justice. Fairey’s latest project is a mural that he just completed in Aspen, Colorado. The mural, called Ideal Power, is 22 feet high and about 55 feet long, spanning the length of an alley in downtown Aspen.

“I think this is the largest crowd that’s ever gathered for me in the street without pitchforks and torches,” Fairey told the crowd that gathered to see the unveiling of the mural.

Shepard Fairey at VFA

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