Politics and Activism in the Art of Shepard Fairey (Obey)

Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970) is an American contemporary street artist, graphic designer, activist, illustrator and founder of OBEY Clothing who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" (...OBEY...) sticker campaign while attending the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), which appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News.


Fairey became widely known during the 2008 U.S. presidential election for his Barack Obama "Hope" poster. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston has described him as one of the best known and most influential street artists. Street art is characterized by a nonpermissive art method of production, which reveals the rebellious nature and activism that challenges the viewer’s perspective regarding the surrounding environment. Street art has features that distinguish it from other art forms such as graffiti and public art. The defiant nature of the art form itself reveals the defiant structure of Fairey's art and the political challenge it has on others.