Remember that little thing yesterday with the Associated Press claiming infringement on Shepard Fairey’s Obama image? You know the one where Shepard drew a picture of a small piece of a photo and the AP somehow thinks that isn’t fair use? The one where the photographer who took the photo the illustration is based on, Mannie Garcia, said:
“I’ve been on the campaign for twenty something months, so I would see the artwork, I would photograph it, and think what is with this image? But it didn’t snap. It never occurred to me it was my picture. I thought, ‘that’s familiar.’ I would see it and say that’s cool, but it did keep sticking in my head. I know artists like to look at things; they see things and they make stuff. It’s a really cool piece of work.”
Yeah you know what I’m talking about now right? The image that the Washington Post looked at in May 2008 and explained in detail how much work Shepard put into making the noteworthy and standout imagery from a random photo. You know what’s funny? Two weeks ago Reuters thought it was inspired by one of their photos – and the photographer Jim Young said he was “honored” that Fairey chose his photo to work from. Of course the Associated Press is no stranger to trying to redefine Fair Use, you might recall last year when they tried to sue bloggers for quoting their articles. (They’ve even targeted me at one point.) Anyway, the amusing thing about all of this is that it isn’t news at all and artists regularly appropriate imagery to make new and interesting works of art. Warhol & Lichtenstein are two mentioned prominently in this Supertouch article “THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE: SHEPARD FAIREY AND THE ART OF APPROPRIATION”. If anything, all this ruckus just makes Shepard’s work that much more noteworthy.