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.
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.
Dave the Chimp gets interviewed by Sneaker Freaker. It is nice to hear an artist talk truthfully about about the state of street art, collaborating with corporations, and all that other hype-driven jank that is present in culture today.
Raymond Tiberius Caesar, Age: 50, Occupation: Sin Eater …not very formal but look good in a tux
2.The Superbowl question: You recently “finished”, your show at Jonathan Levine Gallery, where do you go now?(The interview was written after the JLG opening, it was delayed in being published)
Ha! my answer to this is always “I dunno!” I never make plans but things always seem to be in the works or come along and I just seem to gravitate to what feels right. I don’t really approach all this like a career or a business especially at my age as it seems to me my life is half over and now I want to spend the other half just making what I enjoy to make. I do have a book coming out in a month or so by Mark Murphy and that’s been a long mysterious process to me. I just got the first copy yesterday and its really a very very nice book with about 180 pages and I cant remember making all that work … not sure where it all came from.
I also heard from my gallery I may be having a show in Paris in the fall at Magda Danyz… I like Paris. I am already working on some new work and enjoying that very much.
“Well, the way I’m used to doing things when I print up posters is I print some to sell and I print some to put up on the street. I fund the ones I put up on the street with the ones I sell. That way the whole thing is paid for and I’m perpetuating things on my own terms. I did that to get the ball rolling and then I was going to use the revenue from the first 350 posters to get more printed for a full statewide campaign. At first I was just thinking California because there was such a short amount of time left until Super Tuesday. But so quickly we saw that the demand was there so we started shipping the posters all over the country anywhere that hadn’t had a caucus or a primary yet.
Those initial posters — the 350 to sell and 350 for the streets, along with the 4,000 you sent around to rallies — did they all read “Progress” or were they a combination of “Progress” and “Hope”?
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