Happy Birthday Martha Cooper!

March 13, 2023

Martha, Happy 80th birthday. I feel honored to call you a friend and occasional collaborator. I’m humbled that you have considered me and my art worthy of the focus of your eye and your lens. I first saw your photos in the formative book Subway Art around 1989 or 1990. I had several graffiti artist friends who owned Subway Art and I often scoured its pages as I was mapping my path as an artist. Your photos gave me a vivid window into the culture that would inspire my evolution. In 2003 when we both spoke on a panel at Cooper Union, I could barely contain my pride and disbelief when you showed a slide or two of my stencils on the NY streets. It was surreal to think my work was now included in Martha Cooper’s history of art in the streets.

We eventually collaborated on several projects and it is always an honor to illustrate from your photos of mischievous kids. The defiant spirit of youth is not only something you’ve captured gloriously, but something you live yourself daily. You have more attitude and vigor than people half your age, and your persistent passion and dedication continue to inspire me as a creator as well as define the culture I, and so many others, live and love.
Thanks Martha!
–Shepard Fairey