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In the past 30 years, Shepard Fairey has become one of the most popular street artists in the world.
From his early creations — like his signature “Obey Giant” designs featuring the likeness of wrestler Andre the Giant (pictured above) — to his 2008 campaign poster for Barack Obama, Fairey has carved a path very much his own in contemporary art.
Now there’s a Michigan art museum that’s highlighting his early work with the help of downtown contemporary art gallery Library Street Collective.
Ahead of his new exhibition “Salad Days, 1989-1999” at the Cranbrook Art Museum, Fairey spoke with CultureShift’s Ryan Patrick Hooper about the influence music has had on his work over the years for In The Groove — CultureShift’s award-winning series where a wide range of guests look back on three formative songs from three formative years of their life.
Track #1: A Young Shepard Discovers the Sex Pistols
As a teenager growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, the music of the UK punk icons was a huge influence — but so was the iconic album cover design by Jamie Reid, whose work is also featured at Cranbrook’s new “Too Fast to Live, Too Young to Die: Punk Graphics, 1976-1986.”
Track #2: Public Enemy Arrives & Informs a Young Artist
At just 18-years-old, Fairey says Public Enemy’s 1988 classic “It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back” was an eye-opening record and one that sounds extremely fresh and relevant today.
Track #3: Interpol Turns on the Bright Lights
Fairey isn’t a longtime fan of New York’s Interpol — he’s actually created a pretty wide range of posters and murals for the band.
“When I’m forced to pick only three, those would be the three,” says Fairey.