Shepard Fairey Quotes

  1. When I think about how I want to reach an audience, I just wanted to make pieces that were inspired by something that gave me so much pleasure.
  2. When you walk down the street and see something in a crazy spot, there’s something powerful about that. The street will always be an important part of getting art out there for me.
  3. In the case of the Obama poster, I was just exercising my First Amendment rights – and my free speech is exercised visually. People who want to talk or write in order to share an opinion about Obama can do that, but when I want to say what I think about him, I need to make a portrait.
  4. If any group wants to not be disenfranchised, then understanding that there’s going to be a learning curve for people who have disenfranchised them is important.
  5. I don’t have this obsessive need to do street art all the time because it’s already opened doors for me.
  6. If you’re creating something that has some sort of cultural currency – if the idea is getting out there – then that will probably yield money in some form, whether it’s through selling art or selling books or being asked to give a lecture.
  7. Greater financial success has allowed me to be more generous.
  8. On the street, people aren’t bashful. They will say if they like something or if they think it sucks.
  9. Tim Armstrong is a good friend.
  10. I’ve been making pieces dealing with environmental issues at least since 2004; I mean, I did stuff for the Sierra Club and the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge even back in the 1990s. But somewhere a little after 2004, Hummer hits me up. I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’
  11. Propaganda has a negative connotation, which it partially deserves, but I think there is some propaganda that is very positive. I feel that if you can do something that gets people’s attention, then maybe they’ll go and find out more about the person.
  12. The problem with copyright enforcement is that when the parameters aren’t incredibly well defined, it means big corporations, who have deeper pockets and better lawyers, can bully people.
  13. The argument that most lawmakers make about graffiti is that it’s illegal because it’s an eyesore, but you could easily argue that a lot of advertising is an eyesore.
  14. I never set out to be a groundbreaking artist in the sense of doing something that’s never been done before. I set out to make stuff that communicated quickly and effectively, playing off of advertising, pop art, and pop culture.
  15. Most campaigns rely on photographs because the moment you do something that is a graphic interpretation where any artistic license has been taken, I think a lot of people are scared that it’s going to be perceived as propaganda.
  16. People romanticize struggle and obscurity, and I get that, but it’s a very one-dimensional argument to say that people who have money are evil, and artists who are poor are virtuous.
  17. The most important thing about intellectual property vs. creative expression is that copyright law was created not to stifle creativity but to encourage creativity.
  18. I think ‘punk’ should really be defined as paving your own way creatively and by defying any sort of orthodoxy or commercial pressure.
  19. One of the reasons I started my clothing line was because I went into an Urban Outfitters, and they were bootlegging my star logo on T-shirts.
  20. I hoped that Obama would be a delivery vehicle for change on issues I care about, but I never expect one politician to be the solution to the diverse array of issues I care about.
  21. If I spend time conceiving and making a piece of art, and somebody else sees that it has market value and replicates it in order to steal part of my market, then that’s not cool.
  22. When Justin Bieber started wearing the Obey bar logo, we discontinued it. That was kinda one of the last straws.
  23. I want to be proud of this country, but when aspects of our policy don’t align with my ethics, I want to protest them and try to change them.
  24. Street art, of course, is political, because it’s illegal, so the very act of doing it is an act of defiance.
  25. I’m not going to be intimidated by people or identity politics. I think that’s a dead end.
  26. I think that art has the ability to capture people’s imaginations and make them think that more is possible.
  27. When I made my Obey logo, it was 100 percent an homage to Barbara Kruger’s work and 0 percent had anything to do with Supreme.
  28. The way I make art – the way a lot of people make art – is as an extension of language and communication, where references are incredibly important.
  29. I was a huge Operation Ivy fan.
  30. I admire Ai Weiwei for his art and his activism. His art is beautiful in form, and in function embodies the principles of populism and social consciousness I aspire to in my own practice.
  31. I do think that copyrights and intellectual property are important – it’s important to be able to keep people from making verbatim copies of a particular creation that could somehow hurt the creator.
  32. I consider myself a multi-platform artist – not just a street artist – but the audience I found through street art has created many of the opportunities I now have on other platforms.
  33. My idea about the role of artists is to get people to look at things in a way that’s different than the way they normally would if they are being told how to think, what to do. I think when people receive information through art, they are more open-minded.
  34. Art shows and the institutions end up being the couriers for culture for the next generation and are an important component as well. It may seem ironic from one perspective, but I think if you look at my overall strategy, it’s actually not out of step.
  35. I’ve never really considered myself just a street artist. I consider myself a populist.
  36. For me, there has always been a disconnect with the sort of elitist structure of the high-art world – and my distaste for that is at odds with my feeling that art should aspire to do great things.
  37. I try to make my clothing line an entry point for discovering the substance of the rest of my work.

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