Interviews from the Past: Shepard Fairey in While You Were Sleeping circa 1998

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I can credit Roger Gastman for first introducing me to Shepard Fairey.  His magazine While You Were Sleeping was ahead of its time in all aspects of culture and taste (or lack thereof).  I dug through my old stacks recently and decided to reproduce this great interview with Shepard Fairey from the 4th issue of WYWS.  Long before Museum Retrospectives and Obama posters, Fairey was paying his dues just like every other artist.

Enjoy.

From: While You Were Sleeping, Issue 4, 1998

Why Andre The Giant?

I saw his picture in the newspaper and saw it as something that I could show my friend how to cut a stencil. I was just amused by it and we decided to make it our inside joke, that it was going to be the new cool skate posse. It makes fun of the popular culture, but it is a popular  culture phenomenon. It makes fun of consumerism but then I encourage people to buy a t-shirt because it funds me making more stickers. It was just a really funny memorable picture. He is an oddity. This was around 1989. We put the stickers around town. I thought it would just be a joke that lasted a few weeks. I made the original sticker with a ball point pen and a photo copy machine. For some reason people kept asking where that sticker came from. They wanted to know if it was a band, a cult or what? I was even in the line at the super market and heard people talking about. That’s when the plan started to unfold. The more you put out there, the more people are going to think it means something important. It was just something funny to do. The local indie paper had a contest that anyone who writes in and says what the Andre the Giant sticker campaign was really about would win tickets to a show. This was going on in Providence, Rhode Island. I had a few friends who were doing it for me in their cities.

I was even in the line at the super market and heard people talking about. That’s when the plan started to unfold. The more you put out there, the more people are going to think it means something important.

You don’t have a sick fascination with giants?

Not at all. It’s just the power of propaganda.

Did Andre know about this when he was alive?

I don’t know if he did. He lived in Seattle and North Carolina. It wasn’t at the level it’s at now when he died.

Have you ever talked to anyone in the wrestling community about the stickers?

I get a lot of funny e-mails to my site because it’s www.andrethegiant.com. They think that it is going to be some kind of memorial to Andre placing him on some pedestal. Then they see it’s my thing and they think it’s making fun of him. They say, “This site is disgraceful. You should be honoring the man. He was an incredible athlete.” Andre was actually a very feeble athlete and his physical condition was so bad that he had a heart attack when he was 46 years old. He had a disease that gives you a disproportionate amount of growth hormones to certain parts of your body and not to others. So his heart was not strong enough for his body. He also drank way too much. I hear stories from people that say he was in bars putting five pitchers away like you would put away five mugs of beer.

Did you ever get in trouble for putting stickers up?

I’ve been arrested five times, mostly for stenciling or pasting. All art-related crimes other than shooting bottle rockets at my neighbors when I was 12.

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So what you do is based on Graffiti?

To me it’s all about getting as much exposure as possible. With the stickers I want high visibility. As far as pasting, I kind of use the same technique that Revs and Cost were using. I’m trying to go higher with everything using extension poles. I want the scale of it to be so impressive that no one thinks that it is just one person doing it. There are always going to be things that only run for a few days, but if its a really prime spot it doesn’t matter. When I go to New York I’ll try to get higher up windows that will run for a long time. There are so many people that you are competing for space with. Because I mass produce my stuff, I can afford to send out a greater volume of stuff, where as in traditional graffiti it’s very discouraging to go out and spend all this time hitting a spot and get cleaned in a few days. I consider the art work preparing the printed piece. Can skills graffiti amazes me, but it’s just not my approach. All I do with spray paint is stencil.

I kind of use the same technique that Revs and Cost were using. I’m trying to go higher with everything using extension poles. I want the scale of it to be so impressive that no one thinks that it is just one person doing it.

Do you have any proof that Andre actually got some from a women?

He has an illegitimate daughter who lives in Seattle. The mother and the daughter came to a screening of the Andre documentary called “Andre The Giant Has a Posse” demanding money.

What did this lady and her daughter look like?

I didn’t see her. I heard that they were not too attractive.

How many midgets would it take to kick Andre’s ass?

If it was Tattoo with a gun, just one.

If you had four bottles of urine what would you do with them?

Probably pour them on the bums that keep pissing next to my car.

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How big do you think Andre’s penis was?

I would assume that he was a little bigger than average, maybe eight inches or so. I doubt his dick got the benefit of the growth hormones.

What’s up with Snoop Doggy Dog? Do you think he is a pussy?

I don’t like him, but I think “The Dogfather” was a clever name for a record. I’m more into Ice Cube.

Do you miss Eazy E?

Pulling that move of eating dinner with president Bush was kind of stupid. I lost respect for him after that.

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Have you ever been in a circle jerk?

No, but now I do feel open enough about my sexuality to discuss masturbation. It took years. I can admit it. I think daily is healthy, it relieves stress.

Use any special tools?

I’m a switch hitter. I think that is a skill.

The strangest place you have done it?

The airplane bathroom.

Would you rather kiss a guy with or without a mustache?

If your going to kiss a guy you might as well go all the way. I want a leather vest, I want it all.

Where did you grow up?

Charleston, South Carolina and I lived in Providence for eight years.

I heard there are a lot of sluts in Charleston.

There are a few.

Go out on the beach and have sex and get some sand in your ass crack?

I haven’t actually had sex on the beach.

What do you think of amputees?

I feel bad for them. I have never seen a female amputee. I have only seen dudes with hooks and stuff instead of hands. The first thing I thought was damn they probably don’t get laid and they can’t masturbate.

Would you consider yourself a pimp?

Not at all.

Would you ever punch an alien?

If they treated me like the aliens in “Mars Attacks.”

How do you feel about my favorite subject, pornography?

I’m not into anal sex. I like pornos. It’s visual stimulation, I’m into that.

What’s the strangest place that you have done it?

Probably on one of the screen printing tables at the RISD studio. A security guard walked in and the only thing keeping him from seeing my girlfriend and I was a thin drying rack. One time I was having sex with my girlfriend in the car right outside of an art opening, they were showing the video and my friends came out to tell me and walked up to the car and there was my girlfriend on my lap. I hadn’t seen her in a few days. It was obvious what was going on and the windows were all fogged up.

How about some more stories like that.

This should be about art. That is art (sex). Being creative about that sort of thing is definitely artistic. I’ve done it in the mall garage, in the car during the middle of the day with people walking to their cars left and right.

I’ve done it in the mall garage, in the car during the middle of the day with people walking to their cars left and right.

Want to talk shit about anyone?

People that dis you just because they are jealous of your fame, that’s wack. There is plenty of room on the streets. Get into it for the right reasons. If your a gang banger with a spray can, why don’t you just go out and kill other gang bangers with a gun instead? Do what you should be doing. Don’t become a graffiti artist.

Where can kids get a hold of your stuff?

They can write to me at Black Market. 705 12th avenue. San Diego, California 92101. I’ll send anybody out stickers and a poster catalog. On the web at www.andrethegiant.com

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9 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. Sisco

    -If your a gang banger with a spray can, why don’t you just go out and kill other gang bangers with a gun instead? Do what you should be doing. Don’t become a graffiti artist.- my favorite part ( the whole damn interview was legit! )

  2. Sisco

    I WANT THAT STENCIL

  3. Abe

    Would you rather kiss a guy with or without a mustache?

    If your going to kiss a guy you might as well go all the way. I want a leather vest, I want it all.

    LMAO!

  4. Sami

    “He also drank way too much. I hear stories from people that say he was in bars putting five pitchers away like you would put away five mugs of beer.”

    If a man can drink that much, you gotta show him some love.
    [fist bumps to Andre]

  5. Rehab_One

    Use any special tools?

    “I’m a switch hitter. I think that is a skill.”

    Perfect!

  6. Vinnie

    “It makes fun of the popular culture, but it is a popular culture phenomenon. It makes fun of consumerism but then I encourage people to buy a t-shirt because it funds me making more stickers.”
    Its hysterical that he busts on Andre the Giant saying how bad of an athlete he was and, that his wife and daughter were ugly. I always assumed he would have a decent amount of respect for the man.

  7. Ben

    I’m more into Ice Cube.

  8. Mario

    Would you rather kiss a guy with or without a mustache?

    If your going to kiss a guy you might as well go all the way. I want a leather vest, I want it all.

  9. I miss this old shit-what happened to our culture? The internet, piracy, mass marketing ruined EVERYTHING. GIANT was the man in his day-now he’s a T-shirt company. I’m sick of driving caddi’s and working paying taxes. I want my backpack full of cans and roaming the cities at night. RIP WYWS.

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