Growing up I heard the term “starving artist” quite a bit: this artist or that artist was ‘starving’ as a result of their unwillingness, despite their love for art and/or unacknowledged talent, to accept that their art was not (yet) commercially viable, at least enough to sustain their very existence.
After attending Shepard Fairey’s “Supply & Demand” solo show at the ICA this past weekend, I’d like to add a new term to our lexicon: thieving artist. Because, in short, this is what Shepard Fairey is… but it’s not only what Shepard Fairey is, the long and short of it is he’s a thieving, lying, cookie-cutter hack of an artist.
Why is he a liar and a cookie-cutter?
Well, he’s a cookie-cutter because he cannot brake from a simple formula, simple and repeated colors, using stolen images and icons. He leans on the emotional reaction that comes as a result of viewing these icons (they’re icons, we already know what they mean to us) then overwhelms the easily overwhelmed by using ironic captions that aim to stoke a fury of questions but achieve nothing more than highlighting how superficial our views of pop culture icons really are and how superficial and shallow our opinions of art and great art are, when an ‘artist’ like Shepard Fairey is the golden child of the art world.
But, though we’ve all started accepting this more and more recently, he’s also a liar and nothing short of it. How else could one explain this statement (found on all in the exhibit as well as in the “Supply & Demand” pamphlet):
While Shepard Fairey isn’t exactly ‘closing the loop’ out in the streets, he’s certainly creating ‘impressions’, building the OBEY brand – it’s called ‘grassroots marketing’ or ‘field marketing’…
Rock bands, hip hop artists, Microsoft Zune, anything and everything with something to sell engages in ‘grassroots’ marketing in one form or another: remember the ‘Zune Goon’ arrested for putting up a poster along 6th Street in Austin, TX March of 2007? His name is Joe and he was a field marketing rep, how do I know this? Because he worked for me, as a field marketing rep…