Public art can mean more than just posters on walls…but when it starts to move to denim jacket liners, we get a little queasy.
Shepard Fairey’s Obey label just announced a large-scale collaboration with Levi’s and this jacket is only the beginning. Next Thursday, Fairey will take over the façade of Levi’s Times Square shop, and unveil four new posters to be given away with a Levi’s purchase.
Fairey’s pleading “public art”—it’s populist denim, after all, not Louis Vuitton—but we’d prefer calling it what it is: marketing. It’s not such a dirty word, really, and Fairey has to pay those legal bills somehow. But next time, he should probably start by looking into spray paint endorsements.
Of course, this is hardly the first time Mr. Fairey has run afoul of the boys in blue, but it’s the first time it’s happened since he had any serious clout behind his name, and it’s hard to think of better outsider cred than getting arrested at your own gallery party.
In other words, despite what it looks like, we would say Shep’s having a very good week.
It’s a long-running joke that Esquire and GQ publish the same “new rules for men’s style” every year—the sartorial equivalent of Cosmo’s “487,000 Ways to Please Your Man”—but we’ve never minded too much. The rules tend to be genuinely overlooked lessons, like that fit matters and a well-dimpled tie is never wasted. We just wish they’d stop telling us how new it is.
We have officially turned on Shepard Fairey. It took a lot, but he’s finally soured us on the idea of him ever doing anything at all.
It took a lot. His early work was so interesting, he’s paved the way for a lot of more interesting street art, and let’s face it: the Obama poster buys a lot of good will. But he’s finally run through the last bits of it.
Market capitalism has had a rough few months, and everyone seems to be piling on. It lost the bankers to corporate bailouts and now it may lose its most vocal and culturally important spokesmen: the rappers.
The new single from the production team N.A.S.A. manages to lure Chuck D out of obscurity for an impressive verse, and that’s a MOTH you’re hearing on the chorus, but the song—titled “Money”—doesn’t seem to think too highly of the stuff. In fact, it’s downright skeptical. Maybe it's Shepard Fairey's video, but the paper chase comes out looking pretty unseemly. And if we can’t believe in material wealth, what’s left to rap about?
Whatever happened to putting five carats in your baby girl’s ear?
He may not realize it, but Shepard Fairey is one of the most promising artists of his generation. We can’t think of any American street artists who have managed as thorough an urban transformation as he has in New York, and his Obama poster is easily one of the most iconic images produced by any artist in over a decade. He deserves a cash-in or two; we just wish he could have made it a little more tasteful.
Fairey launched the OBEY clothing store today, and it’s genuinely abysmal. It’s a thrown together assortment of sub-Urban Outfitters schlock that treats Fairey’s meticulously collected phrases as if they were a brand on the level of Bugs Bunny, ready to be silkscreened onto sweatshirts en masse without any attention to actual style or design.
In every item, it’s obvious that Fairey has absolutely no interest in becoming a viable clothing designer. Which is fine by us. We just wish he could have stuck to gallery sales.