Friday, January 18, 2008

RE: Shepard Fairey as Plagiarist

After reading Kirsten's post earlier this week about whether Shepard Fairey is a plagiarist, I read through the articles mentioned and then stewed for a bit. I think that since Fairey's work crosses fine art, graffiti art and design, what would be perceived as plagiarism if it were done for commercial purposes (i.e. if Coke were to use Chinese revolutionary poster design to sell soda) is shifted into an arena of social commentary. Certainly, some of Fairey's choices for reference material might be controversial (Nazi Gestapo skull) but there is a level of irony and awareness to his work.

I have never assumed that Fairey's social commentary work was without reference material. When he uses vintage styled images of Soviet worker, they still look like Soviet workers. I don't think he was trying to fool anyone into thinking he created the art out of thin air. Because of his use of clearly recognizable reference image, he increases the work's impact because of the associated meaning of that material.

Finally, I have seen some of Fairey's more recent fine art pieces and the level of detail and expression in those works far outshines his more street-accessible posters. His public works have as much to do with the locale, materials, and process as it does with his visual statements. To be honest, I don't think Mark Vallen "gets it" and shame on Steven Heller (especially after being included Fairey's most recent book Supply and Demand,) for fueling the flames of a online rant.


Anonymous said...

Shepard Fairey has been ripping off everything for over a decade (& now he has a team to do it for him). After stealing/copying/remixing/or whatever you want to call it, every Soviet/Chinese poster on earth, he just moved to the next design movement he could copy. The guy is a Hustler all the way. Don't get me wrong, I think the majority of his stuff is cool specially his more recent stuff. All I'm saying is he found a vehicle to get his name out order for people to find him interesting and to buy his stuff. He is the Starbucks of Street design (hell his clothes are in the Buckle now) first its cool now its everywhere and a little annoying. People have copied his template of fame as well for example ( aka hang up your designs everywhere in cities across the country...get people to notice you then use that recognition to sell stuff (posters, clothing line, books, magazines, yada yada yada). I'm not knocking this approach...hell do what you have to do not to work a boring 9to5 job.

As far as S.Fairey's Social commentary...over all its not that thought provoking at all. The majority of his work is aesthetic pleasure. Hell, Oprah is more thought provoking! haha

Anonymous said...

Touche! Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Anonymous.

Greg said...

Its so amazing that in this day and age (which I can extend back to 1989) you can find douchebags nocking Shepard Fairey for plagiarism (is "plagiarist" a word?). I guarantee none of you haters can claim that they don't love the Beastie Boys, and if not they are most likely not old enough to understand where the culture that defines them comes from. I'm sure your douchey ass loves either Snoop Dogg or some other production from Dr. Dre. plagiarism? WTF do you think all your non-ambitious asses think you owe your favorite entertainment from like Adult Swim, Family Guy, The Simpsons, Metalocolyps, South Park Etc. Trey Parker made a living out of this so whine a bit about him if you are so effing brilliant.

Get off your effing fat arse and skate or make some effing entertaining art of your owne. Then start talking.