589 - Shepard Fairey

If there was only one name that could be included in the art history books to represent street art and youth culture at the turn of the century, Shepard Fairey would be it. From a few wheat pasted posters and a posse rallied around Andre The Giant, Shepard Fairey became a household name in a matter of years by sharing his punk rock ethics with the world and creating iconic imagery opposing the powers that be. The only problem is that fame comes at a cost on both a personal and professional level and this interview takes you behind the hype and inside the mind of a cultural icon who's been on both sides of the coin. From doing time to calls from the Commander In Chief himself to spearheading the next steps in social justice, Shepard Fairey's true story reveals a focused and humble creative using his influence to better the world he came from and the world he wants to live in. Mark opens the episode to get everyone in the proper perspective to understand the weight of first place and the struggle to convey your intentions when you're only trying to help.

Talking Points

  • Being the guy going down in history books without ever thinking you even had a space in the art world.
  • The freedom inside a whole new genre without any past expectations.
  • Red toner leads the way to a unifying aesthetic and developing your arsenal of paper stock.
  • Straddling the digital age and the limits of science.
  • Speaking directly to your audience and the fear of getting too big.
  • The outside inside strategy that can subvert the machinery you're trying to undo.
  • Viral messages and a humble reminder about the responsibility behind creating socially responsible art.
  • Evolving past the pole position of privilege.
  • How does Shepard pick his battles?
  • Celebrating the positive while critiquing the current political regime. 
  • Building a toolset with your life's graphic and philosophical foundation. 
  • The Obama Hope Poster project, being the antithesis of Bush, and risking your street cred to build a better world. 
  • Low self esteem, other talented artists, and staying busy. 
  • Balancing the risks of public art with the people who rely on you. 
  • The AP Trial of the century. 
  • No good deed goes unpunished, standing up for racial justice and equality, and a rainbow coalition. 
  • Exploitive offers, donating to charities, and privileged problems. 
  • Staying cool to people in the face of conjecture. 
  •  The occasional legitimate piece of criticism. 
  • Staying motivated and switching gears when you hit a creative wall. 
  • Building a business with your wife and how Mark becomes Mark after he gets his first tough love from Amanda Fairey. 
  • A couple firsts in Shepard's life. 

Bobby Kim started The Hundreds with a blog and a dream and he too found his success in the politically charged streetwear scene. Hear how Bobby coped with his success and kept his brand relevant through his innovative storytelling appraoch.

Tristan Eaton works on everything from murals and watertowers to small vinyl toys. With his start in the graffitti world Tristan's career is a glimpse down the other road Shepard could've taken with his illustration skills and love of street art.

Ashleigh Axios is the former White House Creative Director (under Obama's administration) and while Shepard worked form the outside in, Ashleigh worked from the actual inside. Under her watch she completely changed how the public digitally interacts with its elected officials and more.