Tag Archives: graffiti

On Shepard Fairey

(Image from photos I took of Shepard Fairey’s visit to the Boston Phoenix offices)

In this week’s New Yorker, Peter Schjeldahl comments on the storm of recent Shepard Fairey news, with some interesting points-of-view.

Fairey’s fight with the AP over whether the Obama photo he used for his famous “Hope” poster is downright stolen or covered by fair use laws, Schjeldahl says, is a “predictable legal snarl”:

“The general issue is an old story of our litigious republic. Appropriative artists, including David Salle, Jeff Koons, and Richard Prince, have been sued at intervals since Campbell’s soup went after Warhol, in 1962 (but then thought better of it). As an art maven, I’m for granting artists blanket liberty to play with any existing image…. and I’m bored by the kerfuffle’s rote recurrence, with its all but scripted lines for plaintiff and defendant alike.”

Fairey cites Warhol as one of his primary artistic influences – no surprise there – and it’s interesting that nearly 50 years after audiences struggled to consider images of soup cans as art, we’re still having trouble with the concept of blatant, purposely apparent borrowdness as a medium.

“Fairey’s stylistic borrowings from Russian Revolutionary, Soviet, and W.P.A. propaganda are often remarked upon,” Schjeldahl writes. “But borrowedness itself—studied anachronism—is his mode of seduction.”

Schjeldahl only makes a brief-yet-poignant mention of Fairey’s arrest, implying that the incident is only worth a few words – can you hear that, Boston.com commenters? – because the pro- versus anti-graffiti/street art argument has probably been around longer than Fairey himself. Street artsists exhibit their work in galleries often, and many have been arrested. Fairey just did it on a grander scale (at the ICA), and at a moment when the public (in Boston and elsewhere) happened to have all eyes on him.

“Boston’s I.C.A. has condoned a citywide smattering of street art by Fairey, as an extension of the show. That makes sense. So does the decision of the Boston police to arrest him for it, on his way to the show’s opening.”

Perhaps, much like Warhol did for pop artists, Fairey – as America’s best-known street artist at the moment (besides Banksy, whose anonymity lends him a separate and unique set of issues) – is creating a whole new set of inevitables for street artists making a foray into the museum and gallery world. Or maybe it’s just history repeating itself.

Street art attack: the crafty side of street art

From the Phlog:

Street art is fascinating enough on it’s own but, given it’s ephemeral nature, the act of photographing it is essential. And sometimes a photograph of street art, when it’s from an interesting angle or incorporates experiments with color, light, and/or contrast, is a piece of art in itself. Annie Ridlon, of Moontree Studios in Jamaica Plain, writes on her Flickr page:

“In my neighborhood there’s a 300 foot wall tucked away behind the train tracks, which serves as the canvas for one of the most gorgeous, ever-changing street murals I’ve ever beheld. It’s pretty much a secret, so there’s not many people who even know of its existence.

The wall is in a constant state of flux. Every day new pieces are added, old paint crumbles or is intentionally destroyed, layers of tags and signs and full-blown pieces are layered on top of one another. It’s an incredible riot of color and texture. It’s also a testament to the creative subculture which created it, and to the ever evolving nature of art itself.”

Photographing the mural has become a project for Ridlon, as it has for many members of Flickr’s street art groups, who scour the streets on an unending treasure hunt for the perfect (or imperfect, which can be just as alluring) stencil or freshly wheatpasted poster. Below, a smattering of Ridlon’s photos, which she’s selling prints of on the website/crafters heaven, Etsy.


Photos by oxymephorous.

We’re also digging this conceptually similar, up-close photo of the Wall in Central Square, snapped by eatskisleep.

And speaking of crafting, knitgirl is injecting originality into Vancouver’s street art scene, one brightly woven cozy at a time. If Banksy spent a few afternoons hanging out with your grandmother, this might be the result, and we totally adore the concept. knitgirl’s works seem to be everywhere – poles, trees, bikes – and it’s making us want to steal the idea, pick up some knitting sticks, and spread the trend to Boston. There’s just something so friendly – not to mention more accessible – about it. Not all street art is so easily likeable – sometimes glaring tags can be offputting. knitgirl’s work is like a friendly reminder that street art can be created in any medium, and in any place. After all, who hates mittens? Photos below.


Photo by Yorri¢k.


Photo by REDRUM (AYS).


Photo by Knightmusik. [Ed. note – We totally want one of these for our bike.]

More knitgirl photos here.