A critique by artist Mark Vallen
Most well known for his “Obey Giant” street posters, Shepard Fairey has carefully nurtured a reputation as a heroic guerilla street artist waging a one man campaign against the corporate powers-that-be. Infantile posturing aside, Fairey’s art is problematic for another, more troubling reason – that of plagiarism.
Lincoln Cushing, Josh MacPhee, and Favianna Rodriguez, worked closely with me on researching this article, having initially brought Fairey’s plagiarism to my attention. Cushing is an art historian and author of Revolución: Cuban Poster Art, Visions of Peace & Justice, and Chinese Posters: Art from the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. Josh MacPhee is an artist, activist and author of Stencil Pirates: A Global Survey of the Street Stencil, and Favianna Rodriguez is an artist, activist and Chicana print maker. Their invaluable research and documentation provides the foundation for most of what appears in this article.