Printed Matters: Raise the Level 

August 13, 2023

Internationally influential street artist and activist Shepard Fairey guest of honor at STRAAT 
Major solo exhibition and two new works for STRAAT Museum

Press release: Amsterdam, 5 July 2023

The internationally influential American street artist and activist Shepard Fairey is coming to the Netherlands this summer. The maker of the visionary Barack Obama portrait Hope will treat the public at the STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam to a major solo exhibition and to two new works of art: a mural on the impressive side wall of the museum and an interior work. The exhibition Printed Matters: Raise the Level will be on from 13 August to 1 October 2023 at the STRAAT Gallery and comprises more than 130 objects, including new work created especially for the exhibition. Never before has it been possible to view such an ambitious retrospective of Shepard Fairey’s oeuvre in the Netherlands. The two new works will be made on-site starting 7 August on the NDSM grounds and in the museum, and can be followed live by the public. On 12 August, the artist himself will open the exhibition.

Solo exhibition Printed Matters: Raise the Level 
Printed Matters: Raise the Level presents work largely aimed at improving the ‘health’ of our planet. The phrase “raise the level” alludes to a variety of things, including the necessity of raising awareness of the consequences of burning fossil fuels and of climate change, the fact that global warming is causing sea levels to rise and that the time for action is now. In other words: “raise the level” to save the earth.   

Shepard Fairey’s solo exhibition at STRAAT also addresses other urgent matters, such as nationalism, xenophobia, war, fake news and threats to democracy. Fairey uses familiar symbols, portraits and texts to appeal to viewers through his work, and to involve them in a dialogue on the relevant issues.

Shepard Fairey: “I hope the public will be inspired to pay attention to these issues and take action. Apathy is largely fueled by dread and feelings of powerlessness, but I hope my work will sow the seed of the idea that art can be a galvanizing and joyful form of communication and activism, that shapes a culture in both bold and subtle ways.”

Gift to Amsterdam
Starting on 7 August, Fairey and his team will make two new works especially for STRAAT: a mural on the side wall (14 meters high and 14.8 meters wide | 46 feet high and 48.5 feet wide) of the impressive building and a canvas for the permanent collection. In the painting outside, the artist will establish a link with Amsterdam. He will give a gift to the city with this, as it were, in public space, where everyone can enjoy it. The public will be able to follow the creative process live.

About Shepard Fairey 
Shepard Fairey was born in Charleston (South Carolina) on 15 February 1970. He attended the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design, earning his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1992. In 1989 he created the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker as a fortunate accident while teaching a friend how to make a stencil. Beginning as a street campaign, it transformed into the OBEY GIANT art campaign, with imagery that has changed how people see art and the urban landscape. The stickers spread like wildfire in the USA and were ultimately seen around the world. Fairey became a very influential name in the rising skateboard and street art culture. His work can now be seen in, among other places, the Smithsonian in Washington DC, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the MoMA in New York, the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC and the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) in London. The influence of skateboarding and street art is still tangible in his work. He currently lives in Los Angeles.

In 2008, Shepard Fairey created the visionary HOPE portrait of the then senator Barack Obama, in support of Obama’s first presidential campaign. Initially, the image was distributed as a street poster, but it was later used for campaign publicity. Thousands of stickers and T-shirts were also made for distribution on a large scale.

OBEY Clothing 
OBEY Clothing was established in 2001 as an extension of Shepard Fairey’s work. The brand combines classic military looks and basics with a continuously changing but consistently politically provocative philosophy. OBEY Clothing is now a fixture of the Dutch street scene and very popular among young people.

About STRAAT Museum 
STRAAT is the museum of street art and graffiti. In a huge hangar building on the NDSM wharf in Amsterdam, more than 160 giant works of art are exhibited. These have been made on-site by international artists. The collection is frequently expanded, giving visitors the chance to see artists at work. Printed Matters: Raise the Level can be seen at the STRAAT Gallery, the gallery area of the STRAAT Museum. At the gallery, STRAAT tells stories focused on the diversity and popularity of international street art and graffiti culture. Work is also available for purchase.

For more information and/or interviews, please contact Heidi Vandamme: | +31 (0)6 295 32 686 

On Thursday, 10 August 2023, at 12.00 it will be possible to take photographs of the exterior mural and Shepard Fairey will personally introduce his work. To register for this event, please contact 

STRAAT  Museum
NDSM-Plein 1
1033 WC Amsterdam