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Obey's 25th Anniversary

  • Obey's 25th Anniversary
October 10, 2014

So, this slightly odd Frenchmen with a camera enters a print studio and shakes hands with a young American guy who is “elbows deep” in paper shreds, cutting away at huge pieces of paper containing one single face. The French guy says something like “how long have you been doing this” and the guy answers “ten and a half years”, with the same tone as though he would have said “ten and a half minutes.” No, your not going crazy… I am describing one of the initial scenes from Exit Through The Gift Shop. And yes, the young guy is Shepard Fairey (if you like to hear more about Fairey’s relationship with Terry, Banksy and the movie, you can hear more in an interview discussing Exit Through The Gift Shop with Shepard Fairey). On the turn of the century, Shepard Fairey was already creating in the urban context for a decade… The OBEY sticker had been taking diverse forms, and the concept itself would become an internationally recognizable symbol… As for Fairey, today, he is one of the most respected and inspirational contemporary street artists. OBEY has been present in the world for 25 years… Celebrating the 25th anniversary and Fairey’s evolution as an artist and designer, the public will have a chance to see the OBEY clothing collection.

Obey's 25th Anniversary
Shepard Fairey and The L.I.S.A. Project, August 2014 (photo © Jaime Rojo)

Creating OBEY As a Phenomenological Tool

Sometime during the beginning of the last decade of the 20th century, Shepard Fairey took up a role of a phenomenologist. Although he had, by his own words, intellectual guidance within the philosophical thought of Martin Heidegger, the artist had decided that there was a need to act. With this postmodern twist on his mind, Fairey set on a journey to place the now famous OBEY sticker everywhere he could. The idea was to make people “see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured.” Thus, Fairey managed to invigorate people and make them interact with their surroundings. In a way, as soon as he started to act, he begun his transformation from a phenomenologist into a constructivist. Today, we can say, honoring his inspiration, Shepard Fairey’s work has its place-in-the-world and, even, within the vastness of popular culture

Obey's 25th Anniversary
Sheaprd Fairey

25 years of OBEY… And Counting…

Shepard Fairey was practically a teenager when he started putting up stickers. He has said that it had been a fun thing to do, but soon enough it became an activity which opened his eyes “to the world as a participant.” The OBEY Giant continued to exist through the sheer power of transformation, following the growth and evolution of the artist’s interests and his career as a whole. For Shepard Fairey, OBEY Giant was a way to “do things [his] way.” The power of symbolic resistance reflected in OBEY survived numerous arrests, failed relationships and financial challenges. What is more, if we move from an individual to a global perspective, OBEY Giant was (and still is) a story on consumerism and the nature of capitalism, it is an extraordinary giant question mark pointed at all of us… It calls upon us to question the notions of socio-economic situation, systems of values as well as our understanding of aesthetics. ”Keep your eyes and mind open, and question everything.” – Shepard Fairey

Obey's 25th Anniversary
Shepard Fairey, OBEY