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.