Shepard Fairey: You Darn Kids Stop Tagging My Wall!

This is pretty funny. Stories were posted on Eastsider La and Mother Jones.

After pleading guilty to vandalism charges in Boston over his guerrilla art tactics, artist Shepard Fairey had to deal with acts of vandalism closer to home. A few days ago workers sandblasted the brick exterior of his Echo Park studio, gallery and ad agency - called Studio Number One - and applied a shiny layer of anti-graffiti coating to the walls. Frequent tagging and graffiti had apparently taken a toll on the Sunset Boulevard building and Fairey, who rose to fame by employing the same hit-and-run tactics of graffiti artists and taggers.

"When graff seeped into the raw brick it was very difficult to clean," said Fairey, creator of the Obama "Hope" poster, in an email forwarded by one of his employees. "The building is historic and I love and want to protect the brick. The city was never any help with removal. Graffiti is par for the course."

The expensive layer of anti-graffiti coating won't prevent tagging. But it will make removing spray paint much easier and faster and perhaps make Fairey's big brick wall a less inviting canvas for taggers.

"Obviously I have experience with graff," said Fairey, "and there is not much point hitting a spot that will be cleaned immediately."

Shepards email to Eastsider La after the story:

"Your post about the sealer on our building was very obnoxious. Do you just not give a shit about objectivity? My practice as a street artist has NEVER included putting my work on pristine or operational buildings unless asked to do so. I'm not mad at the graff artists who have hit our building, I just like the brick unadorned. I've always been a champion of street art and graffiti in the same way I'm a champion of free speech. I think it is important for people to be able to speak freely, but if I'm watching a channel whose content is not my cup of tea I may choose to change the channel. It does not make me an opponent of free speech. Preferring my brick unadorned does not make me anti-graffiti. Every time I put a piece of art on the street I know it may be cleaned. That is the nature of the art form. Our building houses a fucking gallery and we show street artist's work there and on banners on the side of the building. For you to portray me as anti-street art is very revealing about YOU and YOUR agenda. Are you pro-street art or graffiti? If the answer is yes, then I'd assume based on your portrayal of me, that you'd welcome graffiti on your house or business lest you be revealed to be an anti-art hypocrite. If you have any integrity you will post my response along with your home and office address as an invitation for people to display their art there. Your attempt to portray me as hypocrite was thinly veiled incitement for people to tag our building. I have been arrested 15 times and know the risks of street art. Do you know the risks of being an irresponsible journalist? I responded to your inquiry very politely and you disrespected my candor by taking a cheap shot... writing something irresponsible and sensational to get people to your site. You could have written something more sophisticated and balanced that could have created a worthwhile discussion about public art. Instead you were lazy and obnoxious. Maybe the economy has made you desperate, or maybe you are always slime. Either way, you should be ashamed."

Mother Jones comment on the email. They received a nicer one after they ran the story.

Jesus, indeed! Worthwhile discussion of public art aside, this is way off the mark. If you read the original Eastsider post, you'll see that the only openly critical part is its headline: "This is one wall Shepard Fairey wants to keep free of self-expression." The rest is pretty straightforward reporting. It was the commenters who accused Fairey of hypocrisy and suggested that his studio might now be an even bigger target for spraypainters. C'mon, Shepard—you know how to tell the difference between mild-mannered bloggers and their less restrained commenters. Just as you no doubt appreciate the difference between, say, a street artist who says he never messes with other people's property without permission and the anonymous fans who plastered gazillions of his Andre the Giant Has a Posse stickers around the world.