The artist that I chose for my Hypothetical Collaboration is a street artist and graphic designer named Frank Shepard Fairey. I chose to do my project based on this artist because we both share a similar-artistic style: illustration that relates to or caters to street wear. Another reason why I chose to collaborate with him is because I am inspired by his art work and the way that he is able to come up with his own unique style of art, which bridges fine art and fashion. Fairey creates street art, which is created on sidewalks, exterior building walls, and highway overpasses; it conveys as a message that connects to political ideas, social commentary or confrontation.
Fairey’s art work inspires me because it makes me think about starting my own line of streetwear apparel. Seeing Fairey’s OBEY clothing made me remember how passionate I am about fashion and art. The way that a person can be creative and reinvent themselves with just imagination inspires me. As a child, I looked up to my uncle who was a fashion designer; he would come up with creative and unique designs that he would display in his shop. He had a team who would help with the creation of his clothing line, which is important for me to see because as a graphic designer I need a team to help me with time management and brainstorming.
I can relate to the urban lifestyle and street culture of black communities and businesses. My clothing can represent the everyday struggles of people in urban neighborhoods going about their days, while living paycheck to paycheck just to get by. People of the urban community have been going through a tough time due to the corrupt economy and street violence. Street art has brought back hope to urban neighborhoods. Today, you see young adults expressing their emotions and what they are feeling inside through the graffiti that they draw. Many people, like myself, believe that street art has been a way to cope with depression. It has also become an opportunity to create a new life.
Street art is revitalizing urban neighborhoods with decayed and broken down building, by providing murals created by various artists. This has caused an image change to urban neighborhoods and cities. Neighborhoods are cleaner and murals and art usually attract tourists to come and explore. This can help increase local employment and more create revenue in the community. Shepard Fairey is a prime example of a street artist that has used street art to help a community and create a business. Natural Spring is a 147 foot mural located at 581 Monmouth Street in Jersey City, NJ. It shows a woman looking out towards the viewer while holding a rose that drips black oil. It was created in traditional colors of black, red, creme and yellow with a combination of contrasted delicate designs next to the geometric shapes giving the painting variety and movement. It took over 200 cans of spray paint to complete. The finished mural displays the phrase “Paint it Black: Dependent-Luxurious, The Richest Black, and Power and a fame with the word Glory”(Fairey, 2015.) that hovers on either side of the droplet. The mural ties into the oil and gas industry. According to Jersey City Independent, Stephanie Romano states, “The Oil & Gas industry…has long enjoyed a history of strong influence in Washington.” The Mural painting was based on the History and Strong influence of the Oil and Gas industry in Washington which committees and individuals who were apart of the oil and gas industry donated to raise money to candidates and parties since the 1990 election cycle which has gone to the Republicans.
Fairey was born on February 15, 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina. Upon attending the Rhode Island School of design, he took an interest in design, art, and culture associated with sports because of his talent for skateboarding. While still in college, he created an Andre the Giant professional wrestler sticker with the caption OBEY, which was a reference to a 1988 John Carpenter film called They Live. The movie describes a man that obtains magical glasses that allow him to see that the wealthy elites are actually aliens that control people. Fairey’s usage of Andre the Giant was to capture the anti-consumer message in his design. In interviews, he explained the reasoning behind the usage of Andre the Giant saying “that was the coup”(Bio Ref Bank, 2009).which was meant to raise Andre the Giant out of the wrestling subculture that surrounded him.
Fairey’s Andre the Giant design soon caught the attention of his local skateboarding friends, but his purpose was not to turn his designs into a major phenomenon. In a February 20, 2002 interview with Leslee Komaiko for The Los Angeles Times, he stated how his designs attracted his skateboarding friends as well as classmates. Soon after, his designs spread throughout the cities and countries, gaining worldwide attention over the internet. The Andre the Giant image was inspired by social realism and has now become a countercultural icon which Fairey began selling as T-shirts as well as other merchandise.
In October of 2007, Fairey decided to assist Barack Obama in promoting his candidacy. He first donated money to his campaign, then decided to create a poster art image that could benefit Obama’s campaign. However, Fairey worried that his iconoclastic reputation could be problematic. He decided to hold off working on the poster immediately to ask Yosi Sergant, who was a close friend of his and a part of the Obama Campaign, if his assistance was needed. It took Sergant some time to get the necessary clearance. On January 22, Sergeant called Fairey saying that the campaign had given him the ok to start the poster.
He starting working on the poster on the evening of January 22 and spent the next two days on it. Fairey’s primary objective was to represent Obama in a way that would increase his chances of winning both the Democratic nomination and the general election. Fairey talked about his goal for creating the iconic portrait image of Obama saying, “I want it to be a portrait that was political in nature and that would deracialize Mr. Obama by using a red, white and blue color palette that was patriotic. I also wanted to capture a pose in Mr. Obama that was a classic political pose, something that would elevate him to iconic status in the vein of people who had him and were held in high regard in politics.” He believed that “classic political poses” ( William et al. 249).were the three-quarter view in which the subject is not turned directly towards the viewers’ eyes but instead gazing upward and to the side.
In 2009 the Associated Press filed a lawsuit against Fairey for copyright infringement regarding the Obama Hope poster. When hearing about the lawsuit Fairy’s council quickly filed a judgmental complainant on his behalf, which stated that the Mannie Garica photograph of Obama and the Garica Clooney photograph were both distinct, the complaint was filed. While in Boston, Fairey read blog entries that demonstrated that the Obama photograph and Clooney photograph were different, but argued the Hope Poster and Progress poster resembled the Obama photograph. So, he decided to check his files and realized that the bloggers were correct about both the Obama and Clooney photograph. He had made a shocking error in judgment.
For eight months, Fairey engaged in a coverup by submitting false images and deleting others. One of Fairey’s employees discovered documents on a hard drive that exposed the coverup. Not willing to involve his employee in the coverup, Fairey had him publish them. He later told his wife, council, and the public of his misconduct. In February of 2012, Fairey pleaded guilty to misconduct claims about which Barack Obama photograph was used to create the Hope poster, which had become iconic during the 2008 presidential race. He was sentenced to two years of probation, 300 hours of community service and was fined $25,000. Later, he and the AP settled their copyright claims against each other, agreeing to work together on future projects using the news agency photos. Fairey also agreed not to use another AP photograph without obtaining a license and they agreed to other terms not shared with the public.
As a graphic designer I do not condone in taking other people’s work and calling it my own. Shepard Fairey should have come clean regarding the copyrighted infringement issue instead of covering it up. Another way the he should have went about using the copyrighted photographs was to ask for permission or give credit to the AP who took the photograph of Obama. I believe that now after learning his lesson Fairey will now take into consideration that he cannot just take other people’s work and call it his own without giving credit to the person. When I start to create my designs such as flyers or posters I ask people for permission to use their images, or I just take them with a camera that way I will not be accused of copyright infringement.
My project will consist of designing a Help Puerto Rico poster. It will have some gradation colors similar to the 2008 Obama Hope poster. The meaning behind the poster is to create awareness on the continued lack of recovery efforts from the devastating hurricane that occurred September 20th 2017. This poster will unite millions of people who are willing to help rebuild the homes that were lost in the hurricane, and it will restore electricity to the island. The Help Puerto Rico poster will raise awareness and urge people to make a donation to a GoFundMe account that can raise money to assist civilians in need. It will impact the audience by giving them a sense that Puerto Rico is in desperate need of help, even after many months after the hurricane.
One of the three posters that I found online, is a mock up poster of a Please Help Save Puerto Rico Now poster. This poster has no design creativity that will interest the audience and will not make the audience pay attention to it. The design structure is unprofessional and uses the incorrect fonts. The concept saves the overall design, which the picture shows one of the hands belonging to the Americans. The American hand is supporting the other hand that is drowning which represents the Puerto Rican.
The second design that I found is Orlando Help Puerto Rico Poster. This has strong design creativity and professionalism. The font attracts the viewer reading this and is aligned perfectly. The only issue with this poster is that there is too much information which makes it boring for the reader who is viewing the poster. A poster is supposed to have a slogan that is straight to the point. The final design is a Prey for Puerto Rico poster, it is a simple vector design that lacks detail as well as creativity. Beside the creativity its color works well with the overall look of the poster with the text. After reviewing all three of the posters that I have chosen, the most effective design is the Orlando Help Puerto Rico poster. This is the best poster I have seen. The creativity and professionalism is outstanding, the alignment is properly positioned and has a text that works well with the overall design aspect.
The poster will have text of warm and dark color which will symbolize the hardship that Puerto Rico has gone through in the aftermath of the hurricane. The pride of the people and their strength will be shown in the poster. I will use Fairey’s signature colors like red, light blue, and navy blue to reflect that pain and sadness that the hurricane has imposed on the island. Red will show anger and rage that Puerto Rican people felt when their homes were destroyed by the hurricane. Light blue will symbolize the sadness and helplessness the people felt when they were out of electricity. Navy blue will symbolize the strength and pride that Puerto Rico has; it will show that they will not give up when tragedy strikes.
When I started to design the Help Puerto Rico poster I took a different visual art style approach in the way Shepard designed his Hope poster. Instead of taking a web photograph. I decided to draw. The next step was to identify what colors would go on the image. When labeling the colors, I put them to the side next to my sketch with arrows to identify what colors would go on it. I scanned my photo and imported it into a software program called Adobe Illustrator, where I used a tool called image trace to transform my sketch into a vector artwork. After adding the color to the design in illustrator, I opened up Adobe Photoshop and added a Halftone Pattern effect to my design which was originally used by Fairey when creating the Obama Hope and Progress poster. I used a Font called Gotham Black and added a border around my design which was also used by Fairey in his design. The final step in completing my poster was adding a texture and bevel style to my poster which I used in my previous design work.
The reason why that I collaborated with Shepard Fairey is because we both share the same style which is street art. His previous accomplishments impressed and inspired me to collaborate with him on a project for Puerto Rico. My project relates to Fairey’s previous work because it focuses on social realism and what is happening around the world today. My collaboration with Fairey was a success. The poster gained allot of support from millions of people who were willing to help donate food, water, and clothing to the people in Puerto Rico, who have been traumatized by the hurricane. This has been a great help and blessing to the people of Puerto Rico. They can now have a piece of mind with all that has happened. I feel like did a great cause collaborating with Fairey. Seeing what he did with the Obama Hope poster and Progress poster made me realize that this is the person that I want to work alongside. I hope that one day we can collaborate again on another exciting project.