Frank Shepard Fairey (born February 15, 1970) is an American contemporary street artist, graphic designer activist and illustrator who emerged from the skateboarding scene. He first became known for his “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” (…OBEY…) sticker campaign, in which he appropriated images from the comedic supermarket tabloid Weekly World News.
He became widely known during the 2008 U.S. presidential election for his Barack Obama “Hope” poster. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston calls him one of today’s best known and most influential street artists.
The artist explains his driving motivation: “The real message behind most of my work is ‘question everything’.
Bloggers have criticized Fairey for accepting commissions from corporations such as Saks Fifth Avenue, for which his design agency produced illustrations inspired by Constructivism and Alexander Rodchenko. Fairey defends his corporate commissions by saying that clients like Saks Fifth Avenue help him to keep his studio operational and his assistants employed.
Fairey has acknowledged the irony of being a street artist exploring themes of free speech while at the same time being an artist hired by corporations for consumer campaigns. Of this he has stated that designers and artists need to make money. “I consider myself a populist artist,” Fairey says. “I want to reach people through as many different platforms as possible. Street art is a bureaucracy-free way of reaching people, but T-shirts, stickers, commercial jobs, the Internet – there are so many different ways that I use to put my work in front of people.”