Shepard Fairey Responds to Critics

Local artist Shepard Fairey who created the main “Hope” image for Presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign has responded to some growing criticism about the image and what it suggests. This from a reply just posted on his blog:

“The Obama image is a positive image that is patriotic and in no way Socialist or Communist. Is your assertion that my poster is “RED” based on my use of the colors from the AMERICAN flag, one of which happens to be red? I have criticized the U.S. government in my work, though I am a patriotic American. I believe patriotism is about trying to follow your conscience and make the country the best it can be. You are obviously a nationalist who supports the U.S. unconditionally. Nationalism brought Hitler to power. I’m not interested in promoting that mentality.”

This flyer has been distributed around Los Angeles and probably other places, though it’s not the first to make this incorrect assumptions. I’ve seen people make claims that Shepard only ever does portraits of communists and socialist revolutionaries so therefor he must be making a statement like that about Obama. Usually pointing these folks to any number of the portraits of people he’s just a fan of like Ozzy Osbourne, Jay Adams, LL Cool J or Flava Flav is enough to get them to reconsider. I guess in this case he felt like a more direct reply was in order.

(Disclaimer: I met Shepard over 10 years ago and have considered him a trusted friend ever since.)

8 thoughts on “Shepard Fairey Responds to Critics”

  1. He’s a little touchy, certainly he didn’t expect that the work would be untouched by lampooners during such a contentious election?

    I’ve seen dozens of emails using that poster in a variety of unflattering renditions, but certainly he didn’t expect it wouldn’t be bastardized or misinterpreted in such an acrid and divisive selection period as this election year.

  2. Huh. Nowhere in the “americans for visual literacy” screed is there a single mention of Shepherd Fairey’s name, probably because by not specifically naming him they can avoid a libel suit. It’s too bad that he responded, because it is a poorly written critique and follows such a demented line of reasoning that it’s only appeal would be to people who already think like that. I can’t see it having any real effect. What matters is that millions of people have seen Fairey’s poster. Maybe a few have seen this. Who’s got the upper hand? In any case, Obama will trounce McCain. Then this will all be forgotten.

  3. Funny that the Americans for Visual Literacy is labeling their “opinions” with “facts,” which happens to a trait indicative of sociopaths or the uneducated. No political affiliation required!

  4. The flyer’s a sham and a shame. Of course it’s always easier to say than do but Fairey would have been better served to just ignore it rather than give it a measure of legitimacy with his response.

    Next step: sue the bastards for libel. It’s the American Way!

  5. Haha….. I have works by Shepard depicting (among others) Darby Crash & Sid Vicious, Richard Nixon, Dr. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks & Ghandi, Marcos & Joseph Stalin. That’s two dead punks, one crook, two courageous Americans, one pacifist, one freedom fighter and a commie dude.

    Regardless, Shepards Hope/Obama poster is an awesome statement in these troubled times. I thought the combination of Obama/Obey was an effective statement against blindly following any leader. Guess I saw it’s intent differently than everyone else.

  6. I was added to the “Americans for Visual Literacy” list without permission and received this poorly reasoned piece of political invective too. Based on the info in the footer, it’s from LG Williams:

    who has added me to other lists of his w/o asking as well. I can’t help but think it’s a publicity stunt. Glad to see Fairey responding to it, though I think he’s usually more well-spoken than this.

  7. Shep’s been calmly & silently enduring the criticism of thousands over the years, for everything from his motivation to his originality, and yet he continues to make art that touches a primal chord for the global public. Maybe this idiotic insult was the last straw & he couldn’t help but respond. I’d be frustrated too.

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