Shepard Fairey and the Obey Posse – Alive and well!

Back in the early 90’s I used to work at Kinko’s on the east side of Providence. I worked the wonderful third shift makin copies. Not much fun I know but, it was a job and I was young. I met many interesting characters as you can imagine in 24hr copy center. One of the very cool people I met was Shepard Fairey. At the time he was making all kinds of pop art. One of his widely know pieces is the Andre the Giant stickers. As seen below in the Last Call Saloon in Las Vegas.

I’m not sure where Andrea sticker came to light but, I know when I was growing up watching wrestling with the Von Ericks, Supah Fly Jimmy Snuka, Captain Lou Albano, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, Ric Flair, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, and the Big Bad Andre the Giant 7’4″ 520lbs. Yeah, I’m dating myself quite well but, these guys, these years of wrestling were the mainstay of professional wrestling and Andrea was a legend! Maybe there’s a relation or maybe there’s not but, for whatever reason Shepard created this phenomena that has carried it’s way to modern day pop art scene.

Back to the story. Shepard used to come into Kinkos in the wee hours of the morning with a mash of papers, stickers, designs, and ideas. He’d make a copy, then copy that copy, then copy it again. Sometimes enlarging it, sometimes reducing it. Then cutting it up and making a mock up. He became a fairly regular visitor in the early mornings. Always pretty reserved and focused on his designs. We’d chat a bit and I’d talked about skate board stuff. He mentioned that he had a mini half pipe in his studio and asked me to stop by some time to check it out.

Eventually, I made it over to Shepard’s studio and he was right. It was a mini half pipe. Super mini. I couldn’t skate it for the life of me. Well, I wasn’t any kind of half pipe skater anyways. I enjoyed skating but, never could really pull a decent ollie or any of the monster tricks we see today. Anyways, back then there was vert boards and small freestyle boards were just making the scene. I rode a big ol’vert board and could hold my own cruising the streets enjoying the life in Providence.

Recently, I got in touch with Shepard via email and I asked to look me up if he’s in town again. Well, he said to hold a date open in Feburary 2009 for the 20 year ICA retrospective. I’m freakin there! He’s come a long way from those days. I’ve seen his art in boutique stores here in Boston, a limited edition Obama poster, a custom designed latop on ebay, and just a boom of growth from his early days in Providence. It’s exciting to see his growth and creativity permeate through our culture. Kudos Shepard !

So the point in my story is this, every person you meet, every point in your life can be a stepping stone, an insight, a learning experience, and a possibility for a connection. The past will affect you today as much as the future will carve out the direction you go tomorrow. I look forward to tomorrow but, today I marvel in the ability of people and I never stop believing that tomorrow will be a better day. Look around there’s greatness all around you!

0 thoughts on “Shepard Fairey and the Obey Posse – Alive and well!

  1. Cool story about Shepard in East Providence back in the day.
    I grew up about 20 minutes from Providence and spent a good portion of time in my late teens early 20’s in Providence, Thayer St. etc….

    Back then the whole Obey Giant thing was just taken for granted by me since it was EVERYWHERE. I have watched with wonder as Shepard has exploded in the past 10 years. Only after buying my first house in the past two years have I began collecting his prints.

    So kick myself for not getting in on the ground floor. Totally excited for the ICA show too!

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