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Graffiti Discussion on SF Radio

Ah. So much for not being an early riser. I missed the initial discusson on KQED about graff in SF.

Hopefully they'll post a mp3 of the talk soon here.

For now, ther's a discussion going on in the forum here

Guess this is leading up to the "huddle" that's happening later today on Kearney St.

Still not sure if the huddle will spark anything new on the topic beyond "call police, paint over, call police."

NY Times: Fairey Not a Crook

April 10, 2009, 1:08 pm

Graphic Content | Shepard Fairey Is Not a Crook

Here is the original post, with pics

Steven Heller, a former art director at The New York Times, is a co-chair of the MFA Design Department at the School of Visual Arts and a blogger and author.

Even before Shepard Fairey’s Barack Obama “Hope” poster became the focus of legal and ethical scrutiny — for Fairey’s use of Mannie Garcia’s A.P. news photo as the basis of the now ubiquitous image — some design critics and practitioners had already questioned the street artist’s habit of “sampling” existing imagery. A scolding essay by Mark Vallen, entitled “Obey Plagiarist Fairey,” which was published online in 2007, accused Fairey, who created the “OBEY GIANT” project in 1989, of “expropriating and recontextualizing artworks of others.” The booty in this alleged thievery is primarily propaganda imagery from the 1920s (Russian Constructivism and Bolshevist posters) to the 1960s (Chinese Socialist Realism and counter-culture rock posters). However, Vallen’s harsh indictment seems not to have hurt Fairey’s reputation. If anything, the criticism enhances his subversive agenda, as it fosters debate about the line between influence and theft in art and design.

S.F.: 'Graffiti Huddle' to discuss tagging woes

S.F.: 'Graffiti Huddle' to discuss tagging woes

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Here's the deal

S.F. graffiti conference:
In some circles, graffiti is considered high art, which is why the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art stocks a coffee-table book featuring photos of graffiti images from around the Bay Area.

Property owners who've been tagged may object to such glorification, but - at least in San Francisco - they can voice their ideas about getting rid of graffiti. On April 23, from 3 to 6 p.m., San Francisco's Graffiti Advisory Board plans to host a "Graffiti Huddle" at the Hilton Hotel, 750 Kearny St. The board's goal is to "bring in all of our partners and the general public to discuss how to rid the city of graffiti once and for all." That's a tough objective in any city, let alone one that the advisory board says in a press release "is a worldwide destination for graffiti vandals. If you go online, you will see that taggers come to vandalize the city and then post their work for their peers to see all over the world." People planning to attend the April 23 forum are asked to register by going online at or by calling (415) 641-2600.

Fair Use Cont.: New Book Out on Che as a Brand

April 21, 2009
Books of The Times

Brand Che: Revolutionary as Marketer’s Dream

Skip to next paragraph


The Legacy of an Image

By Michael Casey

Illustrated. 388 pages. Vintage Books. $15.95.

Che Lives!

Not just in the hearts of revolutionaries, Marxist insurgents and rebellious teenagers, but on T-shirts, watches, sneakers, key chains, cigarette lighters, coffee mugs, wallets, backpacks, mouse pads, beach towels and condoms. He’s not only been used by politicians like the Venezuelan president, Hugo Chávez, to promote their own agendas, but he’s also been employed by merchants to sell air fresheners in Peru, snowboards in Switzerland and wine in Italy.

The supermodel Gisele Bündchen pranced down a runway in a Che bikini. A men’s wear company brought out a Che action figure, complete with fatigues, a beret, a gun and a cigar. And an Australian company produced a “cherry Guevara” ice cream line, describing the eating experience like this: “The revolutionary struggle of the cherries was squashed as they were trapped between two layers of chocolate. May their memory live on in your mouth!”

Angles on Fair Use

I'm catching this conversation late; the initial discussion about fair use began in December 2007. Where the hell was I? Well, Fairey had yet to make any ripples with the Obama HOPE piece, so I had no reason to throw this into the Legal Dept. Now that Fairey and AP are battling out the legalities of "fair use" (I use quotations because codifying things can always be a bit sticky), Phantom Street Artist has also thrown his hat in the ring on this, bringing another angle to the onging narrative of re-use, street art, advertising, capitalism, etc.

I admit that I miss things here and there. I'm not online enough!

I'm trying to keep my opinions to myself. Blame it on my journalistic integrity. I can say a few things: I'm glad that people are bringing up these issues, though Fairey has been re-using images and icons for years. I've never compared and contrasted the original radical/political art side-by-side with Fairey's work until now, and am a bit disappointed at how uncreative he comes off. And, like you all don't know this: Fairey is an A Number One Hustler. So much so that OBEY is now a booming brand and he's one of the most famous street artists in the world. I heard that he makes people pay to sign the Obama HOPE posters. ka-ching!

OK, enough of my opinions. How about some thoughts from other folks*:

Mark Vallen wrote this in Dec. 2007, before things REALLY blew up for Fairey. Lincoln Cushing, Josh MacPhee, and Favianna Rodriguez helped him.

Josh MacPhee commented further after Vallen's post over on Just Seeds

Here's a re-telling of Phantom Street Artists's beef(s) with Fairey in March 2009

*I also encourage you to read all the comments at the bottom of these posts. Someone in France wrote about it, and other artists had things to add to this ongoing conversation.

SF Chron: Graffiti judged low priority in S.F.

Graffiti judged low priority in S.F.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Five years ago, Gideon Kramer was thrilled to be appointed to San Francisco's graffiti advisory board.

"I really thought I could make a difference," the graphic designer and 30-year city resident said Friday.

SF Chron: Has it come to jail time to wipe out graffiti?

Has it come to jail time to wipe out graffiti?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Like the city of San Francisco, North Beach resident Micki Jones is fighting a losing battle against graffiti.

"I paint it over and it is usually tagged again in 48 hours," said Jones, who covers up graffiti on her home and other buildings on her block. "It used to be weeks, but now those guys are out there every night."


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