Jan 2011 03

by Nicole Powers

“I’d love it if the government functioned properly.”

– Shepard Fairey

Having been harassed and arrested by agents of the United States’ government as he perpetrated his graffiti art from coast to coast, Shepard Fairy has since earned the respect and gratitude of an American president. Using the visual vocabulary of popular revolution, the humble DIY poster and sticker maker-cum-revered gallery and populist street artist used his graphic skill to transform Barack Obama from a presidential hopeful to a visionary icon.

But now that theleader of our government is one of his choosing, Shepard Fairey is questioning his own message of dissent. In essence, what does a rebellious artist do when the central entity he was rebelling against is controlled by a commander-in-chief he helped elect? SuicideGirls called Shepard at his Los Angeles studio to find out.

In our interview the artist, who celebrates 20 years of street propaganda with a solo show at the The Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston in early 2009, also talks about his Obama images, the psychology behind them, how he had to make unique versions that hadn’t previously been distributed by illegal means for use by the official presidential campaign, and how he self-funded his own campaign of “Hope,” for which he printed up a staggering 300,000 stickers and 500,000 posters.

Read our exclusive interview with Shepard Fairey on