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Andre the Giant is shaking his head.
August 14, 2009 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Noted street artist Shepard Fairey wants his "brick unadorned". When a local blogger posts about Fairey's building being sandblasted, and covered with an anti-graffiti coating, Fairey responds.
posted by lilnemo (53 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
OBEY
ARCHETYPE
posted by cavalier at 3:18 PM on August 14, 2009


What a loser.

Guess the kids will have to use the old "glass etch in a bingo daubber" to tag the windows?
posted by R. Mutt at 3:20 PM on August 14, 2009


"Anti-graffiti coating?" Really? Because according to the article, "...the expensive layer of anti-graffiti coating won't prevent tagging." So what, exactly is the big deal? That it'll make it easier to clean off? So what?
posted by dersins at 3:25 PM on August 14, 2009


newsflash, people who steal for a living hate it when other people steal from them, film at 11.
posted by nomisxid at 3:26 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


I generally would want to avoid what appears to be lowering the discourse, particularly here on MeFi, but Shepard Fairey, in general and in this specific case, is worthy of nothing more elevated than:

Call the WAAAAAAMBULANCE!
posted by chimaera at 3:27 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fairey is now The Man and is therefore fair game?
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on August 14, 2009


DISOBEY

Odd that none of those old stickers mentioned by Mike Mongo are still around (or at least aren't found easily online).

On one hand, I want to call him a twat for claiming his ground something sacred. On the other, I like the idea that some buildings are off-limits from graffiti. Brick and stone are materials you don't simply paint over when someone tags the wall, it requires additional work to scour the paint off, and then you're wearing down the material.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:29 PM on August 14, 2009


Dersins: "So what, exactly is the big deal? That it'll make it easier to clean off?

Yes.

So what?"

FTA: "Obviously I have experience with graff," said Fairey, "and there is not much point hitting a spot that will be cleaned immediately."
posted by mullingitover at 3:32 PM on August 14, 2009


Shepard NIMBY?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2009


This would be more ironic if it were Banksy complaining about anti-graffiti coating. Fairey, not so much.
posted by hippybear at 3:36 PM on August 14, 2009


So what?"

FTA: "Obviously I have experience with graff," said Fairey, "and there is not much point hitting a spot that will be cleaned immediately."


Right. And? Seriously, so what? He's not preventing anyone from expressing themselves, he's just choosing to have the option not to "publish" something he doesn't like. I repeat-- what's the big deal?
posted by dersins at 3:36 PM on August 14, 2009


dersins: "Right. And? Seriously, so what? He's not preventing anyone from expressing themselves, he's just choosing to have the option not to 'publish' something he doesn't like. I repeat-- what's the big deal?"

Because it's noted graffiti artist Shepherd Fairey doing it.

Mmm, these are tasty beans.
posted by mullingitover at 3:39 PM on August 14, 2009


I love street art. I think it's one of the best things that happened to popular art in the last half century.

I fucking hate tags. I loathe them with all my being.
They are the spray paint equivalent of cat pee.
posted by _dario at 3:40 PM on August 14, 2009 [15 favorites]


I repeat-- what's the big deal?

Uninformed nyah nyah nayh yah-ing from people who get their graffiti artists mixed up?
posted by The Whelk at 3:42 PM on August 14, 2009


I love street art. I think it's one of the best things that happened to popular art in the last half century.

I fucking hate tags. I loathe them with all my being.
They are the spray paint equivalent of cat pee.


Yeah, tea house near me had a beautiful mural go up over the course of a few months, incorperating a lot of local artists' designs. And then it got tagged with stupid shit in like a week. There is a difference. Just cause it's on a wall and outside doesn't mean it's the same thing.
posted by The Whelk at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shephard Fairey is a douchebag. But I knew that before I read this.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2009


I'd agree. There's some nice murals in my area that frequently get defaced by tagging - along with things like trees, kids playground equipment, a large and otherwise picturesque boulder at the edge of a trail i like to walk down. Taggers are not wicked cool rebels demanding of anyone's support, they are shitty little fuckers who deserve a beating.
posted by Artw at 3:44 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


One thing I appreciate about Fairey's work is that it's generally located in a smart place. Some dipshit scrawling his illegible name on the side of a brick building isn't art. Blanketing the backs of stop signs with confusing Andre the Giant images is art. Working with other Parisian start artists to put some life in an industrial wasteland is art.
posted by Nelson at 3:45 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


dersins: The argument is that Fairey has made his name by getting his stuff on other people's buildings without their permission, and that it is therefore hypocritical for him to get all graffiti-proofing on his own building. This is pretty obvious, so I assume you're being disingenuous or wilfully obtuse here.

As hippybear points out, Fairey isn't as much known for actual graffiti (as opposed to graffiti-style art) as some other artists, but if that was what you were trying to say, you did an awfully bad job.

On another note:
[Fairey] had originally been charged with two counts of tagging, but prosecutors amended the complaint to wanton destruction of property. A guilty plea to tagging would have forced Fairey to lose his driver's license for a year in California.
WTF, California? "Tagging" is a more serious crime than wanton destruction of property? And it affects your driver's license?
posted by hattifattener at 3:51 PM on August 14, 2009


Fuck Shephard Fairey.
posted by fixedgear at 3:55 PM on August 14, 2009


Brick and stone are materials you don't simply paint over when someone tags the wall, it requires additional work to scour the paint off, and then you're wearing down the material.

Somebody tagged "GOD IS DEAD" in really crappy handwriting on one of my college dorms, and first I had to look at it every day for months, and then they scrubbed it off in a way that engraved it into the beautiful, soft local sandstone, so I've had to look at it every now and then for 23 years.

I hate that person every time I pass that building. I bet they thought they were being the edgiest thing around, and they just defaced a gorgeous bit of stonework.
posted by Sidhedevil at 3:57 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fuck Shephard Fairey.
posted by fixedgear



omg the universe imploded
posted by The Whelk at 3:58 PM on August 14, 2009 [16 favorites]


Mr. Fairey's response seems quite disproportionate:
Your post about the sealer on our building was very obnoxious. Do you just not give a shit about objectivity?

Unless the Eastsider has sanitized the post afterward, I have to say that the original post is actually quite restrainedly free of editorial comment.
posted by honest knave at 4:04 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm not actually sure Andre the Giant is capable of shaking his head.
posted by gman at 4:04 PM on August 14, 2009


What's wrong with growing up? The dude's 39 now, I think by that age you should be entitled to a little peace and quiet.
posted by hellojed at 4:05 PM on August 14, 2009


I think by that age you should be entitled to a little peace and quiet.

But only if you can get those darn kids to stay off your lawn.
posted by hippybear at 4:17 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


I waited a bit before reading the second link, wondering just what contortions will he use to avoid looking like a big hypocrite?

Yeah, if he needs some extra cash for pay all of his fines, I hear Cirque du Soleil is hiring.
posted by adipocere at 4:21 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


funny, hellojed, that comment about growing up.

Yeah, I did some graf art (in 1974) but it was more of a political statement.

If someone tagged my garage, I'd be mildly pissed; if they made a political statement, I'd let it stand (I'm assuming Palinites don't tag); if it was art, I'd be happy.

As far as Fairey goes, just tag it ironic to the nth degree.
posted by kozad at 4:28 PM on August 14, 2009


I love street art. I think it's one of the best things that happened to popular art in the last half century.

I fucking hate tags. I loathe them with all my being.
They are the spray paint equivalent of cat pee.


That's a debate that's as old as graf culture. Check out the movie "Style Wars" if you've never seen it (that's just a sound recommendation in general): there's a subplot about an ongoing conflict between the gifted artists doing beautiful, intricate whole-car pieces, and a guy named Cap whose philosophy is to get his tag applied in as many places as possible (he says "I'm in it for graffiti BOMBING") and would just throw his crappy tag up anywhere he could, even over other artists' pieces. The other artists think Cap is a talentless asshole, and Cap thinks they're a bunch of snooty jerks trying to make his domain of simple vandalism into High Art. And this film was made in like 1982. It's an interesting conflict, since both camps were just vandalizing stuff according to the law and in most people's opinion at the time, but they had very different reasons for doing it.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:35 PM on August 14, 2009 [4 favorites]


WTF, California? "Tagging" is a more serious crime than wanton destruction of property? And it affects your driver's license?

California has been pretty harsh on Graf Artists for a long time. I remember a friend who ended up a Californian when we were younger then coming back a couple year later with tons of stories. People with a truck, climbing gear, and assorted paints hung over the side of a highway overpass so they could have a chance at a large "canvass". I think they started putting barbed wire on their signs because of that.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:36 PM on August 14, 2009


and a guy named Cap whose philosophy is to get his tag applied in as many places as possible

Damn, that guy was an asshole. There's a scene where he's just walking along next to some murals and spraying them as he walks, not taggin or anything, just effing them up as he's walking. I've heard on the new updated release of there is extras with more interviews and one of them is with that guy. I think he had later on kind of came around to the idea that he was a douche in his younger years.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:42 PM on August 14, 2009


"Graff"? He's too busy for the "itti"?
posted by chairface at 4:47 PM on August 14, 2009


so I've had to look at it every now and then for 23 years.

When do you plan on finishing up your degree? Sheesh.
posted by jsavimbi at 4:51 PM on August 14, 2009


Is this untrue?
My practice as a street artist has NEVER included putting my work on pristine or operational buildings unless asked to do so. I'm not mad at the graff artists who have hit our building, I just like the brick unadorned.
If those statements are true, then I'm having a hard time seeing the hypocrisy here.

I know it's fashionable to hate on Shepard Fairey, and perhaps with good reason. But not for this reason.
posted by grouse at 4:56 PM on August 14, 2009 [5 favorites]


The thing is, while I think the argument that Fairey is a hypocrite because he has taken anti-graffiti measures on his building is sort of bogus, I suspect what it secretly angering him (aside from the fact that one of his employees ratted him out) is that this is just a subset of the absolutely correct impression that his supposed oeuvre of guerrilla/street art has nothing to do with his reality. He's got a fucking clothing line, you know, he graduate from RISD. There is nothing "street" about him and there never has been. It's the fact that he's got a building to worry about in the first place that makes him "the man."
posted by nanojath at 5:11 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


"Graff"? He's too busy for the "itti"?

It's a common slang term amongst graffiti artists and the graffiti-art-culture-literate. You can even see it in several posts in this thread. He certainly didn't make it up.
posted by DecemberBoy at 5:21 PM on August 14, 2009


Do you just not give a shit about objectivity?

NOPE
posted by mattdidthat at 5:26 PM on August 14, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, when the media prints an unflattering story about you and your first response is to whine about "bias," you pretty much lose right there.
posted by middleclasstool at 5:39 PM on August 14, 2009 [1 favorite]


"My practice as a street artist has NEVER included putting my work on pristine or operational buildings unless asked to do so."

This is a bullshit excuse which basically means "some guy tagged it first so it was ok". Fairey has done work on plenty of buildngs whose owners and tenants would prefer that he didn't. That's why he was arrested in Boston and forced to apologize.
from the article where he apolgizes for
"posting my art in unauthorized spaces without the consent of the owner."

Fairey is a dick. period. (although a million times better then any asshat tagger)
posted by cyphill at 6:34 PM on August 14, 2009


The argument is that Fairey has made his name by getting his stuff on other people's buildings without their permission, and that it is therefore hypocritical for him to get all graffiti-proofing on his own building

Graffiti-proofing a particular building really isn't going to shut down any graf artists in the area. They'll put their tag next door instead. If you 'proof all the walls, they'll start spraying the sidewalks instead. To really shut them down you'd have to build the entire city out of paintproof materials. Even then, how are you going to keep them off the billboards?

So I don't see how graffiti-proofing his building makes Shepard Fairey hypocritical. He's not censuring anybody; people were 'proofing walls when Fairey was doing street-art too, and he got by. Keeping his walls clean is just an aesthetic choice on his part.
posted by LogicalDash at 6:40 PM on August 14, 2009


Shep Fairey has the arrogance and/or stupidity to do something like this that smacks of hypocrisy.

He is a douchey tool who hasn't had an original thought since those stickers which he proceeded to run into the ground.

Standing on the shoulders of Andre Giant anyone? I'm here all night!
posted by gnash at 6:58 PM on August 14, 2009


Our building houses a fucking gallery and we show street artist's work there....

That is sort of a funny line because he displaces the word 'fucking' by putting the emphasis on 'gallery'.

Wouldn't it be more appropriate to put the emphasis on 'houses'?:

Our building fucking houses a gallery and we show street artist's work there....
posted by Rashomon at 9:53 PM on August 14, 2009


He probably just doesn't want any of his customers exposed to streetart.
posted by skintension at 12:29 AM on August 15, 2009


There's nothing "anti-graff" about cleaning up graff. Commercial murals notwithstanding, graff artists are constantly going over each other's stuff. Underlying street art is the notion that property owners have no reasonable expectation to control the appearance of their property, but this also includes the corollary that street artists have no reasonable expectation that their art will be venerated and respected. There's a certain transience to the work itself that's inherent.

So this idea that EITHER you're "down with graff" and would never touch it OR you're a heartless buffing fuddy-duddy with no soul and dollar signs for eyes is crap. In fact taking it into your own hands to do something about the appearance of public spaces is something that these two guys have in common, even if they have different aesthetic tastes. Those guys "battling" makes a lot more people think about art than apathy all around.
posted by DLWM at 6:27 AM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


so fairey is a douchebag. what else is new?
posted by krautland at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2009


I thought this sort of thing was the main source of the douchbaggery claims on Fairey.

Of course, he always struck me as another Thomas Kinkade for hipsters so whatever...
posted by Lesser Shrew at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2009 [2 favorites]


Graffitti is better than tagging in the same way that stepping on dog shit is better than sitting in it.
There's a difference, but it's all still crap.
posted by signal at 6:05 PM on August 15, 2009


There's a pretty great book on the history of LA graf in which one of the artists makes the following point: No one has ever bombed a full mural without tagging first.
posted by klangklangston at 7:15 PM on August 15, 2009


> I love street art. I think it's one of the best things that happened to popular art in the last half century.
I fucking hate tags. I loathe them with all my being.


> That's a debate that's as old as graf culture. Check out the movie "Style Wars" if you've never seen it [...] there's a subplot about an ongoing conflict between the gifted artists doing beautiful, intricate whole-car pieces, and a guy named Cap whose philosophy is to get his tag applied in as many places as possible

Style Wars is a great recommendation and I enthusiastically second it. However, I think two separate things are getting conflated here.

Every graffiti artist in that movie tagged. A tag looks like this and is more or less like a signature.

CAP was famously doing "fill-ins" (or throw-ups / "throwies") -- quick, one- or two-color outline/fill-in combinations -- all over NYC. Here is the pertinent section of Style Wars. I don't think he actually hit any 'tags' on camera, only those quick little f-you throws. He became reviled for doing them over much more intricate "pieces" by other artists.

And this indeed framed a big difference in philosophies about what graffiti is. CAP bombed hard, and put in as much work as any other writer in the movie. He did not care about being appreciated as an artist. When I lived near the Bay Area, KERSE was bombing like this and the amount of work and risk it entails is pretty mind-blowing. For some people, like CAP, having "ups" is what it's about. For some people it's about the beauty of, and time spent on, an individual piece. Is it more important to be appreciated by few or just known by many? Nearly every graffiti writer will fall somewhere in between.

But! This is not a difference between "taggers" and "artists". Bombers, artsy piecers, and all of those in between, tag. There is a division in many observers' minds where a "tagger" is one kind of graffiti writer and those huge, multi-color pieces are done by an entirely different breed of person. This comes up in almost any discussion of graffiti. And this is just not the case. It's not factual. Every great graffiti writer -- indeed graffiti itself -- started with, and is largely defined by, these tags. Everyone who still does illegal graffiti also hits tags. There is practically no exception to this. It is intrinsic to the form.

There are good tags and bad tags. Just like there are good and bad throwies, stencils, pieces, rollers, wholecars. 90% of everything is crap and graffiti's not an exception. Personally I think GESO's tags are fantastic, but as in any art form, there's some subjectivity involved. TWIST, too, is as well admired for his tags as for his characters and pieces.

Others might disagree, and might never see any aesthetic value in the calligraphy of a tag. But for better or worse, all of these things are inseparable components of graffiti. Whether we like it or not, no amount of "I wish people would just stick to the graffiti that I like, instead of littering the city with annoying tags" will change it.
posted by churl at 2:39 PM on August 16, 2009 [2 favorites]


It's funny, I frequently see the ol' canard about how if you don't like a movie or a song, you should make a better movie or song instead of bitching about how that movie or song sucks. But I've never seen anyone say that if you don't like a tag, you should bomb the city with your better tags, even though, y'know, that's the only way to get other folks to step their game up.
posted by klangklangston at 3:40 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


Shepard Fairey's studio is in Echo Park, where 90% of the tags I see on a daily basis are gang related. So while there's already a debate about the relative artistic merits of murals vs bombing, could someone also explain the socioeconomics of international street gangs and how territorial tagging relates to the alleged hypocrisy of street artists? Clearing that up should be just as easy as offhandedly declaring Fairey a douchebag, right? kthx!
posted by zota at 6:23 PM on August 16, 2009


Really? Seriously? I mean, maybe it's because I don't live there, but I see far more folks with just regular tags than gang stuff whenever I drive through (it might also be because I have more of an eye out for artsy tags). It's not like Venice and La Brea or anywhere on the ass end of downtown, or in East LA, or hell, even Fairey's warehouse studio on 8th near Alameda.
posted by klangklangston at 9:50 PM on August 16, 2009


Yes really. Yes, seriously. I live a few blocks away from Fairey's studio -- the site everyone is allegedly arguing about -- at 1331 Sunset. I've lived here for quite a while. I do not see "artistic" graffiti work. No large pieces, no wild style, no guerrilla murals, not even particularly fancy tags. The graffiti in this neighborhood is almost entirely quick, sloppy gang tags, mostly by the locals (ExP). In actual practice, that's what Fairey is washing off the bricks. If that's the kind of graffiti people are defending, well okay then. But let's be clear.
posted by zota at 11:14 PM on August 16, 2009 [1 favorite]


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