Shepard Fairey

Shepard Fairey

time_protester shepard-fairey-barack-obama-1 ObeyGiant Shepard_Fairey





















Born 15th February 1970 in Charleston, South Carolina, USA, is a street artist and designer well known for his thought-provoking, and often controversial, designs. His influences come from skateboarding, punk music, graffiti and street culture. Fairey’s first major work was reproducing black and white images of the wrestler Andre ‘The Giant’ Roussimoff. The posters, paper and vinyl sticker reproductions of the wrestler were originally targeted at punks and skateboarders, but eventually became a more widespread phenomenon.

OBEY caught on, and within a few years, Fairey’s stickers were on stop signs, walls and college campuses across the United States. The more the OBEY message spread, the more importance people attributed to the perceived message of resistance and purposeful opposition to corporations, politicians and authority figures.

Shepard Fairey is one of the most influential street artists of our time. Shepard Fairey’s work has been used in screen-prints, stencils, stickers, masking film illustrations, wheat paste, collages, sculptures, posters, paintings, and murals. Shepard Fairey enjoys working with the colors black, white, and red. Fairey has constantly shifted between the realms of fine art, commercial art, street art, and even political art.

His most famous being the propaganda poster of Barack Obama, “Hope”. This poster received the Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award in 2009. The first Obama poster produced by Fairey, which he dubs his ‘grass roots’ poster because it was produced without any connection to the official Obama Presidential Election Campaign, showed a portrait of Obama (gazing upwards in the guise of a visionary leader) with the word ‘Progress’ underneath. Initially, official Obama campaigners kept a distance from the poster, but eventually embraced it, asking Fairey to produce two revised versions.

Fairey has had his fair share of run ins with the law. With his very first work of “Andre the Giant” having to be change to “OBEY” for copyright reasons. And then his poster of Obama for similar reasons. Shepard Fairey has always been open about controversial social and political topics and often donates and creates artwork in order to promote awareness of these social issues and contributes directly to these causes.









Aubrey Beardsley

Born in 1872, Aubrey Vincent Beardsley was an English illustrator and author. His drawings in black ink, influenced by the style of Japanese woodcuts, emphasized the grotesque, the decadent, and the erotic. He was a leading figure in the Aesthetic movement which also included Oscar Wilde and James A. McNeill Whistler. Beardsley’s contribution to the development of the Art Nouveau and poster styles was significant, despite the brevity of his career before his early death at 25 from tuberculosis.

Most of Beardsley’s images are drawn in ink, and feature large dark areas contrasted with large blank ones, and areas of fine detail contrasted with areas with none at all. Beardsley’s work reflected the decadence of his era and his influence was enormous, clearly visible in the work of the French Symbolists, the Poster Art Movement of the 1890s and the work of many later-period Art Nouveau artists like Pape, Mucha and Clarke.

More than mere illustrations, Beardsley’s images captured the mood of the accompanying text, while aggressively critiquing repressive Victorian concepts of sexuality, beauty, gender roles, and consumerism.

Beardsley’s poster art and essay, “The Art of the Hoarding” (1894) changed how the public thought about art and advertising. The two, according to the artist, were not mutually exclusive. His theatre posters manifested his theory and helped revolutionize poster production in Europe and America.

Beardsley created his first colour lithograph poster in 1894 for the Avenue Theatre in London, which featured two plays at the time. The poster was a sensation. At the time, the relationship between posters, public advertisements, and fine art was a topic of debate, with Beardsley at the forefront. Reflecting upon Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s poster art and his own ambitions to accomplish something similar in England, Beardsley set out his theory on art and advertising in 1894’s The Art of the Hoarding . In his essay, the artist argued that, “advertisement is an absolute necessity of modern life.” According to Beardsley, ads should be beautiful as well as understood by the general public. His posters, as well as his convictions about commercial design, were practical and beautiful, helping to revolutionize poster advertising.

14328 212668 Aubrey_Beardsley_-_The_Stomach_Dance Avenue_Theatre_Poster c7cc251a518ef0f901c1ecd0dd033b7a images poster_print_beardsley_illustration_poster-r57b1a4d2a2024b828d7dc1ac3b50ad45_zb4fo_8byvr_1024 TheSavoy



Alphons Mucha

1368247_1_l mucha_carraige_dealers mucha_job Mucha-Moët_&_Chandon_White_Star-1899

I was pleased when I saw that Mucha was one of the artists to study this week. Mucha is one of my favourite artists and I was excited to dive into researching his work.

gismonda-poster-alphonse-mucha-1894Born in the mid 1800s, Mucha’s success and rise to fame could be the imgresplot of a modern day fairytale. According to the well-known legend, Mucha met Sarah Bernhardt, the glorified star of French theatre, in 1894 on the day before Christmas. The young man, fresh out of the Académie Julian, was working as an illustrator for Lemercier, a Parisian printer, when ‘La Divine’ came in. She was in desperate need for somebody to design the poster of her new show Gismonda. Mucha rose to the occasion and created his first poster. On its release, his interpretation of Bernhardt was the talk of the town, a fact that earned Mucha a six-year contract with the actress. Legend or not, this partnership with Sarah Bernhardt, who was at the high point of her career, transformed the career of this Czech artist.

With the industrial revolution and the increased development of consumerism in the 19th century, printing techniques became increasingly refined and sophisticated. By the early 20th century, the streets of Paris were tapestried with all kind of posters. Among both the general public and artists, the medium gained more and more popularity and respect. The commercial poster became a real Parisian trend and Alphonse Mucha, following his success with Bernhardt, emerged as its shining star.

Influenced by Symbolism and the Arts and Crafts movement of the late 19th century, Mucha’s posters focus on one or more female figures that are glorified in their sensuality and beauty. With a passion for details, Mucha creates ornaments, incorporates gold and silver elements and represents organic shapes. The figures are detailed by expressive darker lines and enriched by natural soft colours, functional and decorative friezes usually frame the illustrations and the background space is filled by floral or abstract patterns. Mucha uses the flora and fauna of the natural as an endless source of design ideas, and this style would then go on to found the Art Nouveau movement.

994ed274aeacd568ee93d6aa6c6fc572The influence of Alphonse Mucha and other Art Nouveau poster designers on San Francisco rock posters has always been recognized. 08323943255cd3f2b4f5593a9a81a417The opiated daydreams of art from the end of the previous century set an obvious precedent for ’60s psychedelia, especially given the counterculture’s quest to get beyond the sterile geometry of modernism as it had developed in the 20th century and return to what it saw as a more colourful, free spirited age.

Rock concert poster artists of the 1960s would definitely rework Muchas pieces into their own. Richly saturated colours, elaborate ornate lettering, collage elements and distortion were all hallmarks of the San Francisco psychedelic poster art style that flourished from about 1966 – 1972. Their work also translated into album cover art.

Alfons_Mucha_LOC_3c05828uThe best of Muchas advertising images are both triumphantly of their time and timeless. They have the instant quality common to all great advertising and, indeed, to all great pop art. They have a quality of immediate recognition, even if you’ve never seen them before. Now that is genius.–a10/alphonse-mucha-posters.htm

Rick Griffin

During the 60’s-70’s there was a revolution in the manner in which culture manifested, almost a renascence in the tame values handed down by the previous decades. The ideal lifestyle of pure uninterrupted escapism, the 60’s and 70’s set the foundation for the world of psychedelic pop culture to spur upwards and outwards in all of its dazzling hypnotic display.




Rick Griffin was, himself, as unique and unpredictable as the time in which he occupied. Griffin’s posters for prominent cultural icons (e.g. Jimi Hendrix, and the Doors) reflect a style he developed from a young age as a cartoonist, and the psychedelic imagery that often accompanied the more intriguing aspects of American underground culture.

The psychedelic movement within the world of design, of which Griffin was very much a part of, attempted to mimic the effects of perception alteration with visuals that strive to capture outer world experiences. Griffin’s work is very convoluted, and manages to convey this essence of a visual punch to the senses. The typography is near impossible to decipher, lettering bleeds, tangles, and blends together, yet this isn’t a flaw in his work, in truth a success in portraying the themes of his clients.

Dead_AOXO[1] bluecheer[1]

Griffin also drew inspiration from Native American culture, much of the characters (e.g. the golden beetle) were derived from their spiritual beliefs. The spiritual side to Griffin’s work is very much a notable feature, with symbols and entities that seem otherworldly.

3.65wm[1] hendrix2[1]

The combination of surreal imagery and fluid text amounts to a cohesive visual, producing a product that seems whole and composed as a single piece, as apposed to the cutting a slicing of various “pretty things” to fill the parameters of a page. The text and illustrations complement one another, and at times visually blend together seamlessly.

Griffin’s work delivers the kind of personality present within the area of culture he worked alongside, at a glance the mind is transported to the notions of a psychedelic era.



Wolfgang Weingart

“electronic equipment replaces neither eyes,hands,nor heart”

Wolfgang Weingart.

Wolfgang Weingart is regarded as the “enfant terrible” of modern Swiss typography. At an early stage he broke with the established rules: He freed letters from the shackles of the design grid, spaced, underlined or reshaped them and reorganized type-setting. Later he mounted halftone films to form collages, anticipating the digital sampling of the post-modern “New Wave”. As a typography teacher at the Basel School of Design Weingart shaped several generations of designers from 1968 onwards. They came from throughout the world and helped him achieve international recognition.

Weingart’s experimental design approach and the connection between analog and digital techniques that he called for are topical again today. Although strong evidence of Swiss orderliness could be seen creeping into the simple letterheads and business cards that Weingart designed during his time , his work possessed a spontaneity and deliberate carelessness that transcended the precepts of Swiss design of that period. Even at this early stage in his professional development, Weingart’s innate understanding of the limitations of perpendicular composition in lead typesetting, coupled with the strict technical and aesthetic discipline of his apprenticeship and his inherently rebellious nature, drove him inexorably to pursue a more experimental approach. A dropped case of six-point type served as the basis for his round compositions. He scooped the type up from the floor and tied it up to form a disc. By printing both the faces and the bottoms of the bodies of the metal type sorts, he achieved the illusion of depth. The discs became spheres.

Weingart insistently sought new ways of creating images, adopting the halftone screens and benday films used in photomechanical processes as his new tools beginning in the mid-1970s. He used the repro camera to stretch, blur and cut type—a radical new approach for marrying continuous-tone images and letters. He would boast that his design process relied solely on these film manipulations and overlapping colors, seen perhaps most strikingly in his work for the Basel Kunstkredit—black-and-white world-format posters designed between 1976 and 1979 and a series of color posters made between 1980 and 1983.