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New Images from Shepard Fairey

art also by Vhils (photo by Jaime Rojo for Brooklyn Street Art)

Shepard Fairey's just-updated stencil archive may be small, but the artist has always used stencils with his groundbreaking street art projects and style. I was fortunate to see Fairey's original, and controversial, Obama "Hope" collage rendering at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC during my Stencil Nation tour. That collage incorporated stencils. Watching Fairey and his crew put up large billboard-sized portraits here in San Francisco years later, they incorporated paper cutting into the process: cutting out parts and taping them on the wall to mask spraypaint and then taking that piece off to paint a different color. It was fascinating to watch, and fnnch has told me that he's picked up that method for his larger murals.

Fairey's tools and methods have basically defined street art since he threw up his first stickers in the late 1980s: stickers, posters, stencils, skateboard/hip-hop, political, etc.. He made stickering a must have cultural practice, and used stencils and posters to define his message and esthetic. I first saw Andre the Giant stencils in NYC years before I started Stencil Archive. Unsure if Fairey actually painted these viral images, I've put most of these photos in geographic archives rather than crediting the artist.

Nonetheless, this weekend's efforts here on Stencil Archive have allowed me to revisit some of the legends' varying styles. It has been a pleasure looking back over these great works of art while considering how Jef Aerosol, Fairey, and Banksy have helped define "street art" since the early 1980s. 

Banksy Archive Gets an Update

From 2002, this may be the oldest photo for a Banksy piece on Stencil Archive.

Not to bury the lede, Stencil Archive's Banksy archive has been updated with one new image added.

Banksy may be the most famous artist of the 20th century, complete with a couch gag on the Simpsons and rip offs of his artwork by anyone who wants to make a buck off the artist's popularity. Some of this ripping off literally happened across the world, and here in San Francisco, one man somehow thought he was saving Banksy by taking a large rat stencil off an Upper Haight wall... and into a storage space somewhere out of the public eye.

Speaking of the public eye, theories abound about the actual identity of Banksy. While I was poking around the location of the Upper Haight rat piece, the manager of the Red Vic Bed and Breakfast swore that Banksy checked in when the piece went up. "We had a guest from England the same time," the manager excitedly said. Just after Banksy wandered through SF that last time, I knew an artist from Europe that knew Banksy's people. She was a bit cagey about details, but did say that Banksy liked to find locals to help set up logistics, scope out sites and walls for art, and most likely pretend that they were the artist. I'd even guess that they'd get arrested for Banksy. My contact said that the local folks worked 24/7, sometimes spending hours at walls to check for cops, security, crowd traffic, etc. It was unclear if they all got to meet Banksy, but my contact had. She said has a nice person who was into collaboration.

I have been asked many questions about Banksy, even in front of audiences and video cameras. The most asked question is "do you know Banksy?", followed up by "do you know who Banksy is?". I do not know Banksy, nor know who he is, but he did directly email me once! My claim to fame came when I was reaching out to artists I was featuring in my 2008 book "Stencil Nation". 

I had an email for Banksy (still do!) that he used for an early-2000s email newsletter. Back then, I had just started Stencil Archive and was still learning how the rules of illegal art worked. Someone emailed me with a link to photos of Banksy getting up in Jamaica, saying that we all now knew what the already-infamous unidentified artist looked like - basically a pale bloke from England. I was craving content for Stencil Archive, so I posted the email text and the link to the photos. Soon after, via that official Banksy email address, I got a very polite "cease and desist" email from Banksy, saying it wasn't proper to expose the identity of a vandalizing artist. The email asked to please take down the post, and I did, learning a great lesson that exposing the identity of vandals can get them in big trouble. 

More Artists Updates

Sol did not harm any cats in the making of this stencil...

Sublime sunlight just outside the window here in SF, beaming down on a few fresh images and another round of updated archives. Click on through....

Thanks to: TXMX
Spinning: Taylor Swift on vinyl, Pink Floyd 1970 live at BBC, 1990 Dead live in NC

More New and Updated Artist Archives

Bruce Li being a badass in Chinatown (Misstencil)

Whew. Still trying to figure out the best way to update the archives. Focusing on archives with new images to add, and still working with smaller-sized ones. Smaller is defined as under 200 images, but still trying to double-check, revise, check again, and then add the new images. Done for the day so the sunshine can been enjoyed!

Spinning: Neal Cassady Drive Five tape :: Dead n Phish bootleg tapes