Bridging the gap between the fine and the less refined

Posts tagged “street art

“YOU MUST OBEY”: Who is Shepard Fairey?

“Oh I’m about to blow Andre The Giant”-Lil’ Wayne

As a New Yorker, I’ve seen these stickers everywhere and if you haven’t seen them then head down to the Bowery or Williamsburg and find a light pole. For those who have seen them and wondered what they were, you have a friend in me.

The artist: Shepard Fairey


Shepard Fairey got his start the same way most other street label artist do which is on the street via Rhode Island art school. But man has he come a long way…His art has been described in the NY Times as “guerrilla style”. And he is of course accredited for the infamous Obama “Hope” flyers that was literally the poster-child of the 2008 campaign propaganda.

Major, right? That’s a super massive accomplishment.

The NY Times has a well-written bio of his late work which you can check out here. So let’s focus on his artistic style and the clothing line.

So where did the “OBEY” name come from?

Fairey created the Andre The Giant stickers in the ’80’s while in art school in Rhode Island. His art is a reactionary art. This is entirely counter to the Fauvist art of Matisse and birthed from protest movements of the ’70’s. Using art as a political tool is seeing a resurgence in recent history as more grassroots-based movements are erecting. The “Hope” poster is an exemplary example of that.

Here’s an excerpt from the OBEY manifesto written by Fairey in 1990:

“The OBEY sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology…The FIRST AIM OF PHENOMENOLOGY is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The OBEY sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker.”

Fairey uses mainly a palette of red and beige in his works. There is also frequent use of red and beige rays and asian themes. Messages of anti-violence (including images of guns with roses and “Make Art Not War” slogan) saturate his work. My belief is that he choose red because of its association with Communism and the idea that Communism brings equality. You can even see images of Chinese soldiers within his work. And then there is the reaction at people have to the idea of Communism and to the color red itself which people usually associate with caution/danger and causes people to literally stop and react.

His art is compelling, emotional, stimulating with images of Black Panthers. But most of all it captures the human experience.

You can check out his entire catalogue here.


Lucid Dreams of Little Monsters: Monstrinho Spotlight

Since the origin of graffiti, it has been done best in numbers. Graffiti crews have been an integral component of hip-hop…but this week’s feature is going to be a little different. This single guy is so remarkable that he deserves a special spotlight.

Michael “Monstrinho” Amorillo. (one member of the Get Vicious crew)

What makes Monstrinho interesting from the jump is his use of non-traditional colors. You would think that this kid’s favorite holiday was Easter or he was only given the neon-version Crayon box as a child. Either way his works feature a vibrancy that is unseen in most street art.

They say that electric blues are associated with a feeling of exhilaration. No wonder why I just thought I could fly…

Taste the rainbow.

Then there is the subject matter. Just imagine that Happy Feet moved to Brooklyn and had a baby with an owl from Jamaica…Penguins, bears, fish, birds or some mixture of all of them combined. What’s even more crazy about it is that each of these characters has a gaze as if they are..well let’s just say “elevated“.

It’s good to know though that this is some sort of Kandinsky-inspired message. Monstrinho’s work isn’t a purely aesthetic art form like Matisse with Fauvism. Monstrinho’s website states,

“Myriad messages can be interpreted from his characters: An octopus represents flexibility and the ability to adapt to multiple environments. Angel wings symbolize freedom and protection. Be it a painting or graffiti letters, the goal is for his art to evoke human emotion with a funky flow”.

He uses his art as a medium for people to tap into their innate sensations. Whether that be joy, anger or some other state of consciousness (as cued by the lowliness in Happy Feet’s eyes)…to each his own my brotha!

For me it is all about his artist mark. In other words his individual touch on the use of acrylic paint. Each line is very clean and crisp (but you know in kindergarten he was coloring outside of the lines and still does metaphorically speaking) and yet there is imaginatory feel to all of his work that takes you back to an illogical and youthful time when we didn’t try to rational the World. If he were to create a cartoon, adults and kids alike would be mesmerized.

Ya heard. But don’t take my word for it. Do some investigating yourself.

pssh: peep the pic I yanked off of his Facebook page

"I Will Protect You"

(Basquiat reference anyone?)