Create: To start, we love the art.
Shepard Fairey: I’m really happy with it. I loved Haring, and I knew that if I could find the right reference that I could do something strong with it. I'm proud of it.
Create: Talk a little bit about where you come from, and what made you what you are today, and where you draw inspiration from.
Fairey: I grew up in South Carolina, where there wasn't a lot of progressive art. Luckily, I got into skateboarding and punk rock when I was 14 years old. And there was a lot of art that went with those cultures that had both a political point of view and sort of an edge to it. And that opened my eyes…to a much broader definition of art, and art about social ideas. Then when I left South Carolina and went to California for a year of art boarding school, I met a lot of people who had different perspectives on art and saw some LA street art that was very impactful…. Really, graffiti hit me when I went to college at the Rhode Island School of Design. We took a trip into New York City, and there was graffiti everywhere. And I just fell in love with an art form that wasn’t about elitist institutions. It was even not about recognition for the individual, who they really were. It was sort of living through an avatar.
Graffiti made me feel like I could have something that I was inspired by. It was an outlet that wasn’t so academic — even though I didn’t do traditional graffiti, it was very inspiring for me philosophically. I also got into a lot of the Russian constructivist design from the teens and the ’20s — such good graphic design. That was a big influence for me. Also Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, the pop artists. And Barbara Kruger, who used the juxtaposition of strong typography with found imagery…subverting the original intention of the image, usually. Her writing and her use of the red bars and white type was devised from advertising, but used in a very different, socially pointed way. And it also had a connection to the aesthetics of both advertising and so-called propaganda.