Shepard Fairey

In art, creating something that is entirely your own can be a difficult thing. Think of what we are surrounded by, the almost unlimited source of material, of inspiration that even seeing a photo online, in a magazine or otherwise taken by someone else and using that for yourself. Not a bad thing I think, depending on how you go about it. My first thought is that Obama is a huge deal in the world, the first African American president in U.S. history, being iconic for millions of people. I believe Shepard made a powerful photo into a statement of, well hope. Art is

Expressive, its ever changing, its supposed to make you think, to make these statements that open up new doors. The thing that Shepard forgot to do, something that hasn’t changed in art, or in any form of mass media, using someone’s work, and making it your own without giving credit where credit is due.

What Shepard did is not respecting his fellow artist, the photographer Mannie Garcia, the one who took the Obama photo. Using his work without giving credit to Mannie isn’t paying homage to him. I feel connected to people in the art world. I feel we all want to put messages across in many different ways, and that we all should respect one another’s work as if it were our own. When Shepard, or anyone does something like this, its like taking a work they clearly think is well done and not showing your appreciation to the other artist. If I like someone’s work, if I think its work using, or modifying in any way, I would feel the need to go to them and appeal why I was doing it, depending on the subject matter. What if Mannie didn’t vote Obama, maybe he was just doing his job as a photographer and taking photos he sees as worth. Maybe he wouldn’t have wanted his work used in that sort of way. This is not the case mainly because he works as a photojournalist in Washington D.C. My point simply was that you never know what the other persons vision could be for his or her work.

The article talks of Shepard having a history of doing this sort of thing and getting away with it. Shepard has been arrested multiple times for his content matter being “knocked off” of others. People were up in arms about this because of his past in doing this before, this was just the straw that broke the camels back. Whether it was a more famous icon, known by all, or if it was just that sort of content that got peoples attention, either could work, it ruffled peoples feathers. It was for good reason, Shepard has been doing this sort of thing for years, and has been called out on it, has been arrested, knows it is wrong, and still does it. It would be as simple for him to just give a little shout out to the artist in question, yet he does not. Even if he means no harm with his actions, and even does them for good reasons, it is just not acceptable to use the work of others and not give them some sort of hand out.

I don’t think Shepard is a bad guy. I don’t think he is some malicious man out to pilfer and pillage the works of others and claim them as his own, don’t mind me in quoting the article, but the man is an activist, some of his works included making anti war posters, as well as anti Bush posters. He is not taking works and calling them his own, he is simply using what he thinks are good images, or interesting illustrations, and incorporating them into a design coming from his own head.  Shepard has made inspiring works, works that can be called iconic, works that feature larger then life people or messages, there is no doubt about it, but his methods, they are the things that are flawed, they are the things that get under our skin. This is coming from me, someone who is inspired by others works and styles, from someone who has used photos that are simply floating around the internet and incorporated them into their own work and had no idea where it was from, or who. I think somewhere along the line we have done it in one form or another, art or simply writing a paper. This does not mean we do it for bad reasons,  or that we should do it at all. This is saying that it happens. In relation to Shepard Fairey, it happened with one of those larger then life people,  someone that everyone is hearing about on a day to day basis, this is why we so heavily attack and make him answer for it.

Shepard wanted to create something that made an impact on people, that gave people something to see in a man that was bound to greatness. His simple red, white , and blue color scheme. His use of color and texture to create a simple, yet elegant rendering or Mannie Garcia’s photo. Was it impactful? Yes. Will we remember it in years to come, and go down in history of what people wanted to believe for Obama, of course! This is the picture I want to remember. Shepard took a already amazing and expressive photo and turned it into something greater. He familiarized it with us so that we see it for what it is, a sign of hope, a sign of how far we have come. It paints a picture of what it so come for our country, he creates hope. Shepard embodied this, with the help of Mannie. When we read this article, and listen to the talks we realize that Shepard just wanted to do his job in creating something to read with us. This just goes to show, as we go out into the world and do work to vocalize our causes, whatever they might be, we have to be considerate of others. To pay homage to them is to give thanks and show gratitude, for something that is not ours.

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