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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Steal Art Make Money

Scope Urban Apparel's latest release takes aim at another "artist" which is not something we typically do.
As a growing company we are not in the practice of burning bridges or hating on other's success. However, there are some exceptions which must be made. Consider the worth of a bridge to nowhere.

Shepard Fairey and his Obey brand has been hailed as revolutionary street art and the premier purveyor of proletarian products. Fairey has been exposed as a blatant plagiarist and fraud - who has no consideration for the origin or meaning of the images he expropriates. Not only does he take the work of others, slap his logo and colors and patterns on it and call it his own, he strips it of all significance it once held. This is a tragedy since he typically preys on images which have tremendous meaning in the histories of popular resistance and struggles for social justice.

It's time he got a taste of his own medicine. We felt like this was a shirt (had Fairey "designed" it) he could wear without shame - openly expressing the values and virtues he and his brand represent.

For more info about Fairey, his work and why it is so problematic, please refer to these articles:

2 comments:

  1. sorry you feel that way, but i think that you should read up on your art history

    http://supertouchart.com/2009/02/02/editorial-the-medium-is-the-message-shepard-fairey-and-the-art-of-appropriation/

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  2. @poil11 - always open to learn more - but on this I've done my research. I have no problem with "appropriating" other people's work IF in doing so you pay respect to the artist and context that it came from. My problem with Fairey is much less his method of work and more so his message. (On a purely visual level I love his stuff). My Problem is that he exploits the political art born out of people's movements without respecting the purpose those images were created for. I have no problem with promoting the work and struggle of activists throughout history by creatively using art and imagery from those movements, but to strip them of all of their meaning and purpose - the significance they have, and employ them in the work of promoting the Obey brand or some vague watered down message of non-comfority is a disgraceful disservice to the original artists, who developed their work as their contribution to something that was tremendously important to them and their community and people. To only take the cool looking images and not care if people learn more about the Black Panthers or the Young Lords, or the Zapatistas or whatever the subject of the image you are using is the biggest disrespect to the artists and the entire genre of protest/revolutionary art / propaganda.

    Whether or not Fairey has a place in the history/world of art is not my concern - I just do not respect or support the work he does or the reasons he offers the purpose of his work. Despite a facade of radical social concern, Fairey seems to be most motivated by profit (at least at this point in his career) - and while that does not mean he can't make good art at the same time, I think he should be honest about his goals - and if his goals are honestly to make work that "has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker" he needs to find something better to do with his talents and profits. I believe REAL art, especially political art or propaganda SERVES A PURPOSE, and presenting people with something they can interpret as whatever they will does not qualify (however a novel approach to art-making it may be).

    I encourage you to READ these articles, which address both Fairey's use of appropriated imagery and lack of respect for the revolutionary art (not to mention artists) he takes. I read the link you sent and while it addresses Vallen's article throughout - to me it fails to get at my fundamental concerns about the ORIGINAL PURPOSE of the works Fairey "appropriates" if that is the word you like to use.

    http://www.art-for-a-change.com/Obey/index.htm

    http://www.justseeds.org/blog/2007/12/a_response_to_obey_plagiarist_1.html

    Thank you for commenting! - interesting blog btw.

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