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Fairey Crys “Thief”

April 10, 2008


In what can only be described as classic, Shepard Fairey is suing another artist for stealing from him! After decades of pillaging other people’s work wholesale, I guess Fairey thinks he’s special, and should be protected from people just like him? Here’s the full story on Animal New York. Texas-based artist Baxter Orr has put a medical mask over Andre’s face, and gotten a cease and desist letter for his troubles.


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15 comments on “Fairey Crys “Thief””
the artists website.
I would throw down some money for Baxter’s legal defense!
And maybe there would be expert & radical art historian Josh Macphee on the witness stand, describing Fairey’s multiple uses of constructivist imagery!

Crap is very subjective. I would have a difficult time separating his work from Fairey’s. I’m not particularly interested in either one’s work.
I find it contradictory, ironic, and incredibly unsurprising that Shepard, or his business, would make a move like this. It exposes his true character
and interests. P-“eh-ehm”rofit and property.
Its easy when someone with power, rips off people struggling for social justice, ie those without power, they’re incapable of filing any proprietary lawsuits.

I find it amusing how Fairey’s fans have all of a sudden discovered a new found appreciation for copyright law, now that “their man” has come been “jacked”. Wishing you didn’t get that OBEY tattoo now do ya?

Ouch! People did not get OBEY tattoos, did they? That would be like Nirvana fans going out and dancing at frat parties to imitate the Smells Like Teen Spirit video, totally unaware that those kind of things were exactly what made Kurt so pissed.
I have to imagine that Fairey did not intend to start a cult or get idiots to follow him. It just happens to talented people. Our fans are often our worst enemies. Besides Nirvana, I site Rage Against the Machine. All the rich kids in my high school loved that stuff… but did they ever understand…

Did they? He ENCOURAGES the practice on his website, by highlighting people having OBEY works tattooed. I think I would laugh if I ever saw someone with one.

Its true. I lived with a guy who had the obey face, the one that the above image was altered from, tattooed on the back of his calf. Old skater snowboarder dude, he felt some kind of affinity with it.

There is obviously a double standard in Fairey’s mind. In LA I notice his graffiti is allowed to stay up, while the other graffiti is painted out. It seems very symbolic.
Love this site. You rock.
Browne Molyneux

That’s because his “Graffiti” is a billboard. What he doesn’t tell the kids about his street-cred is that he has arrangements to keep his artwork up. He’s done similar “installation” pieces in Hawaii. I wouldn’t doubt it if he’s done the same in LA.

As far as I understand, Shepard still sometimes puts work up on the street illegally. I think things are getting twisted around. As far as I’m concerned, his “street cred” is not what is in question here, nor do I care about it. You can do awesome things in one place, and something shitty somewhere else, they do not cancel each other out, we are not 2 dimensional people but complex beings with lots going on inside our heads and in terms of what we do in the world. The issue is about Fairey, or anyone for that matter, taking ideas and images from the commons and privatizing them, only to go and sue someone else for doing the exact same thing. It’s called capitalist accumulation, and it’s in large part why we have a small handful of billionaires on the planet and a billion people dying of starvation and diseases that we have cures for! I think it is important to understand the systems that exist underneath our individual actions…

No I agree. Nothing is more amusing than the “spat” between a similar “Street artist”, FUCT, whom also has stolen and used many of the same pieces of art that Fairey has, and has now whined that Fairey “stole” them. Both, for numerous years, sold and copyrighted imagery that they pilfered.

DJ Sheps statement:
To all concerned:
Baxter Orr was sent a cease and desist letter by Obey Giant in regards to his use of the Obey “Icon Face” graphic. This graphic is a registered trademark and I selectively enforce this trademark based on the nature of the infringement. Frequently I do not respond negatively to parodies of Obey because I feel the artist doing the parody is philosophically aligned with Obey and parody is a valid part of pop culture dialog. I use parody and tribute often in my own work, so I obviously believe there is value to both. I have also had to deal with legal entanglements over the use of appropriated imagery and its interpretation as parody or infringement. Parody Vs. infringement is obviously an issue with many subtleties and grey areas. Referencing existing imagery is a risk every pop artist takes from Warhol to Koons to myself to Mr. Orr. Most of my pop art, fortunately, has been positively received by those being referenced, and many subjects have even commissioned authorized collaborations after seeing my tribute. Orr’s infringement is being pursued more because of his all around exploitative tendencies and foul nature rather than the seriousness of this specific infringement. I’m generally very tolerant of this sort of thing, but this is the straw that broke the camel’s back. Orr has been repeatedly revealed for selling Obey Giant prints on ebay which I have a policy against. I sell my prints under market value to insure that true fans of my work can acquire a print at a reasonable price. Orr has used pseudonyms and other shady tactics to get prints and sell them on ebay. Orr has been kicked off of an Obey Giant fan site for shady dealings. He has also made enemies with an Obey secondary market dealer for being untrustworthy. Orr is the type of bottom feeder who is often able to thrive because no one wants to take the time to deal with him. As you can see, he has tried to turn this present issue into publicity for himself. The resources it may require for me to pursue him will be much greater than any lost revenue from his print. I’m pursuing this out of principal. I have principals and Orr does not. A gross over-simplification of the situation could lead a lazy person to think that I’m a hypocrite for pursuing Orr because, in basic terms, we both use reinterpreted appropriated imagery. The key difference is in our motivations and my willingness to take responsibility for the things I do.
Shepard Fairey
Founder & Creative
Studio Number One

“The key difference is in our motivations…”
Beg to differ, both sell work to make money.
Shep just has higher moral grounds and institutional power to back him.
Many of the people’s movements he appropriates from have no access to
those institutions for recourse, thats what they’re fighting against,
disenfranchisement. (ie labor movements, Zapatistas, Black Power struggles,
and on, and on)

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