I find it unfortunate, upon hearing the reasons why people think Shepard Fairey is a good artist, that they are often blind to much of the back-story.
When the majority of your art is plagiarized, one needs to question the honesty in any sort of message attached to the picture. He is awaiting trial for plagiarism and copyright theft from a photographer, as well as lying to investigators and destroying evidence. In an interview in The Atlantic magazine he says, “The important thing is just that the artwork is accessible. It’s not about legal or illegal. It’s not better if it’s illegal. It’s about getting it out there by any means necessary.”
His actions: blatant application of logos over Photoshopped compositions, creating a farce with justice protecting his own thievery, lying about it in that same arena, all lack creativity. He steals from artists, and a man stealing from the creative industry hinders us all. The Associated Press, ready to rip him a new asshole if they need to, must be anxiously awaiting this damaging trial about fair use for further applications. That an artist lied about his work makes me look at him as a charlatan.
His lawyer downplayed the size of this in court, “This isn’t like some copyright case that involves hundreds of this and hundreds of that,” he said. “It’s really quite simple.” But it’s not.
Today, Fairey launched a charity print sale on his website: The “John and Yoko Canvas Print.” Well who doesn’t love either of them stamped on your brand. Arguably, like Andy Warhol, Fairey is a good businessman. Except, it feels like he wears an Enron jacket. The timing is a textbook publicity stunt, likely to keep the eyes of his fans peeled away from any news that might make it their way, instead on his gift shop. Just like the capitalist organizations he purports to work against, there is plenty of merch to stock up on. T-shirts covered in slogans and logos, the back of each screenprinted in bold ink: “Hey, public space is for more than just powerful corporate interests and advertising.”