Saks Fifth Avenue hires Shepard Fairey and Cleon Peterson to design spring marketing campaign


Even Saks is getting into the game.

““What we do every day, really, is propaganda,” said Terron E. Schaefer, the senior vice president for marketing at Saks.”

The New York Times reports


32 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Seattle the City

    Sure he’s sold out, but his work is still amazing!

  2. Bendy

    Beg to differ… I think his work is tired.

  3. iroqian


  4. Bender

    What people do for money, even if they can pick and choose the good clients without selling out. Such a disappointment!

  5. dunny3000

    who cares about “selling out”, people have to eat. however, his work is NOT amazing. it’s crap!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! russian propaganda posters that he ripped off. plagarism. see for yourself…

  6. Gilles Planet

    I’m in complete agreement with Bendy on that one… Shepard Fairey is certainly not the first and only person to have inspired himself from Russian Constructivism to create a style that isn’t his to start with… He might be the first person to have successfully popularized it and created a brand out of it, but graphic design is as much about satisfying a client asking for a designer’s signature style as much as it is about progressing in a new direction. Shepard Fairey has simply developed a formula that is here to stay as long as there are some unsuspecting and uneducated people out there who think that he’s a creative genius… Please Mr. Fairey, let’s move forward in a new direction, that ironic propaganda approach to visual communication is just BEGGING to die!…

  7. oh, yeah… he shouldnt sell out.
    Are we all gonna get together and pay his bills?
    because apparently we all want him to get paid to only make stickers and paste them on walls, right?… because that’s what makes us all happy. Am I right?
    I am sure you all you graphic designers from Brooklyn, Portland, Los Angeles must be crying right now because their hero wants to do some commercial work. How dissapointing!
    Oh, by the way… I agree, his work is tired. I mean, you can see it when Saks Fifth Avenue wants to hire him so their entire spring campaign is in his hand… because you know, companies like doing that. The Obama poster was shit too!!! I mean can you call success the fact that people in Russia and Africa are wearing t-shirts with that print?
    Of course not! that is nothing but pure FAILURE!
    Designers like him should be criticize harshly and unfairly so all wannabe-technical-school-look-all-the-photoshop-filters-I-know designers can feel better about themselves!
    Shepard Fairey, keep doing all that crappy you keep doing!
    You;re going nowhere.

  8. Seattle the City

    I am an art historian, I know where the style was derived from. He was also beaten to the punch by Barbara Kruger:

    I still think his work is amazing. Everything has been done these days, but he still manages to find originality in the fact that he has collaged his own style into that niche.

  9. Russian contrustivism, thats where it comes from. Graphic designers use different elements and combine them to find inspiration. He’s got a very small source, but he’s known how to make it more interesting every time.

  10. This campaign is lame. Think about the greats of Design like Saul Bass, Peter Saville, etc. They have/had a signature style but at least it was theirs. This and the fact that this campaign is pretty generic makes it rather disappointing. I figure the Saks folks are just trying cash in on his notoriety by publicizing this so much.

  11. wooohooo

    The word “obey” may look good in that font but it’s very weak in this application.

  12. mross

    selling out? selling out by having a dream client? most of you seem jealous

  13. Bendy

    I don’t know man… I feel the truest judge of an designer/artist is their ability to evolve and expand within themselves. What surprises me about Fairey is his popularity despite his lack of evolution and his complete reliance on subject. I mean seriously… what has changed about this guys style in the past 10 years?

    His executions are gorgeous and I don’t think that anyone can argue he’s not an excellent designer who’s developed a very individual and recognizable style. BUT I’m just tired of seeing his work. Why? Because it looks the same. Every time.

  14. Charles

    Don’t hate the player, hate the game.

  15. MIKE

    Mr. Fairey’s work is derivative at best.

  16. JR JONES

    mufucka be gettin paid. y’all be wanna be famous jealous bitches don’t understand. ITS ABOUT GETTING PAID. now get back out to your mat on the street and sell your oil paintings.

  17. I took on the Saks job to support the people in my studio. The economy has effected us like everyone else, and the Saks job would keep the studio from having to let people go who are not only co-workers but friends. These are creative people who pay their bills with”sell out” work and pursue their own art on nights and weekends. I personally do’\n’t need the work, but I took the job on behalf of my studio. I also really liked Terron, the creative director of Saks. He was very genuine and open minded. He specifically asked for “propaganda” style. I thought it was a fun campaign for Saks with a lot of provocative irony. I oversaw the art, but I did not execute it… I spend most of my time on my own art and charity projects. Cleon Peterson from my studio did a great job on the art, and yes, we both agree the model is too skinny. At least we can all agree on that.
    -Shepard Fairey

  18. Here is a voice from Europe. I think noone of you above mentioned anything about taste in this campaign. That is what bothered me the most in the images. Using a great historical event/period for the aims of selling stupid bags… The woman looks quite ridiculous in this position, don’t you think? Diminishing a great historical idea to the size of a market bag – that is a bad taste. READ MORE.

  19. It is amazing to me that so many comments are judging another man’s career. What have most of you done to forward your creative destiny? I think it may be worthwhile for you to achieve a level of recognition comparable to Mr. Fairey’s and then offer commentary — I doubt it would be as critical or brash.

    I have had the pleasure of living long enough to have hung out at The Factory in the 70’s and remember clearly similar attitudes regarding a certain artists vision for the blurring the lines between commercialism and artistic endeavor.

    As technology evolves and continues to be adapted by creative minds/hearts to transform expression, it will always be impacted/influenced by former works of artisans of all genres — it is inevitable. The architecture of creativity is premised upon the influence social DNA.

    I am of the direct opinion that any creative spirit strong enough to fight through the s@#! that creatives must endure to simply express ourselves, do business and occasionally eat a good meal/wear descent clothes/live well as a result of it … bravo!

    Bravo to the artist/designer, Shepard Fairey. Bravo to his creative journey and fight! Bravo to sustaining yourself amidst the chatter of fellow creatives that probably should be doing more to further their career and talking less. Perhaps if they did, they would be able to understand what it takes to achieve your level of success doing what you are gifted to do. Bravo!


  20. Here is a voice from Manhattan. I think this neo-Constructivist thing is perfectly in keeping with all the other neo-Constructivist stuff that Shepard Fairey has even done.

    Frankly the idea of using 1920s Soviet propaganda art to sell wildly expensive crap to foolish fashion-slavish women is totally awesome and hilarious. Obey, indeed!

  21. Pissed Off

    The art world is controlled by corporations. They are the ruling class, the kings and queens of our time. Corporations control the production of art through corporately funded collections, exhibitions and funding, not to mention their enormous influence over the political, economic and social realms.
    Political art runs contrary to a corporate vision, and \”political\” subjects have become politically incorrect subjects in a corporate and institutionalized art world. Fine art has thus become wall decoration, and political art has been neutralized and co-opted by corporations and advertising.
    Shepard Fairey exemplifies this phenomenon: he is the Thomas Kincaid of political art. Almost single-handedly, Fairey has reduced a rich and powerful history of socially-conscious art to the lowest common denominator. He symbolizes what is wrong with the art world and capitalism: he takes something of value, something beautiful and complex, and reduces it to the simplest, most easily digestible form of advertising: the brand. Fairey has branded himself, \”political\” art, \”punk rock\” and even the president of the United States.
    Even though his work is unoriginal, redundant and shallow, the gallery and museum system doesn\’t care; they only see dollar signs. He preys on working artists, enriching himself while exploiting workers and artists as subject matter. From his hypocritical high horse, he has the nerve to preach to us about the dangers of capitalism, all the while using the system to his advantage. He has turned a subversive and political movement into just another fashion statement.

  22. SpaceGoat

    I find it quite ironic that a large department store wanted propaganda to push it’s merchandise. The original idea behind the OBEY posters was to make people question advertising. This perverts the original motive of Fairey’s work by giving the corporations an outlet to do exactly what he wanted to present to the public. Who is playing who here?

    As for ‘selling-out,’ why does everyone care so much? They are using his style and he’s overseeing its creation. A style that isn’t original anyway. So he’s getting paid to make shopping bags instead of stickers. I’d like to see any other artist work a 9-5 job just to pay the bills and do art for art’s sake. See them bitch then that their art isn’t selling at all, but they can still have running water.

    Live by your own principles and don’t judge others for theirs.

  23. You know what’s funny? All of the debate about the money involved and “gettin’ paid.” It’s interesting that very few have commented on what the work is actually trying to achieve. For anyone who has walked down Fifth Avenue, as they approach Saks, it’s windows literally jump out onto the street. While everyone else on the block is using the same-old sad contemporary approach to their marketing Saks is doing something different.

    So it’s not original in the course of history. It’s still original on Fifth Ave. It’s still original compared to Macy’s, Bergdorf, Neiman, Bloomingdales, etc! It’s still original compared to everything else going on down Fifth Avenue.

    Forget the money involved and how people “need to eat.” Shapard Fairey and Clean Peterson are obviously not the starving artist on canal street trying to sell you pastels of Robert Deniro in “Goodfellas.” They were hired to do something different and something that would make some noise. By looking at all the frantic banter on this topic, I think it’s pretty safe to say they achieved their goal.

    As far as “selling out” goes, you might be a sell-out if you’re designing ads for Saks’ competitors right now. They don’t seem to be doing anything that’s that much different from everyone else at face value.

    Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a “new idea” and there’s nothing wrong with inspiration or even the emulation of a style in the form of a tribute. The point is, it communicates the message clearly and in a way that makes people interact with the brand. Aside from that, “Gettin’ Paid”, “Selling Out”, and the “need to feed a family of 5” can be left for everyone else to worry about who wishes they were hired to design for Saks in the first place.

  24. mark peterson

    I think Mr. Fairey puts it in proper perspective. Its about the work and keeping his people employed. It is commercial work not necessarily fine art. Hopefully it works for Saks.

    I heard once \” if you can\’t say something nice don\’t say anything at all.\”

    That being said at least it produces a reaction which is more than a lot of the so called \”art\” out there does.

    Cleons dad

  25. fantady

    I used to be an ardent fan of Photoshop Elements . I have version 3. 4 wasn’t quite compelling enough. Now that CS3 is out, are we going to see a Mac update or is this it? I cannot imagine uploading my photos to the server every time I want to edit them. Yuk. If it’s limited to low res, then definitely not.

  26. Looks like the model just stepped out of Auschwitz. Maybe that is the look Saks is going for. The Nazi-Russian connection goes deeper than we think. They had collaborative posters made? I had no idea…

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