POSTER ARTIST SHEPARD FAIREY DOESN’T OBEY THE LAW, BUT HE’LL DESIGN YOUR CORPORATE LOGO.
Just past midnight on Saturday, June 24, at the corner of Houston and Broadway, Shepard Fairey of Blk/Mrkt (pronounced “black market”) plastered a picture of Andre’ the Giant eighty-seven feet aboveground. A moment later, after posting a small sticker, the 30-year old artist behind the influential San Diego design firm was arrested and arrainged, then locked into a Ninth Precinct cell. Thirty-six hours later, he was released. ” I immediately bombed the West Side Highway, then drove to the Bronx and postered up there,” he says.
For an artist who began stickering posters of the elephantine wrestler in 1989 and who is now at the head of Blk/Mrkt and its staff of twelve, Fairey hasn’t let success change him. As influenced by graffiti culture as by the internet economy, the company creates “edgy” corporate identities for clients such as Pepsi Co, Netscape, Virgin Records and Levi’s. What began with stickering Andre’s face around the Rhode Island School of Design has blossomed into nearly $1 million-a-year company. “My goal is to proliferate as much as I can,” Fairey says, explaining his guerilla forays into Web design, TV commercials, print advertising and, coming this fall, fashion. As a freed Shepard Fairey is learning, the fringe can be very profitable.