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  1. Shepard Fairey – please use one of my photos so I can tell everyone and get famous too!

  2. Where are all of the photographers and designers trying to get money out of the Andy Warhol Estate?
    Why not attach Braque and Picasso of appropriating photo and design elements in their works?

    I see it to be on par as when a company makes an advertisement that gets censored or banned. It becomes the best investment they could make. They get far more publicity and press than they could ever put forth with their ad budgets.

    So Shepard, look through my work and find some inspiration.

    • @brian faini, my sentiments exactly.

  3. Meanwhile, over at Shepard’s merchandising website:
    “We recently got wind that some of Shepard’s Obama illustrations are being used to protest Obama’s upcoming visit to Notre Dame University…….we are saddened to see people manipulate Shepard’s illustration of our President in this manner.”

    Would that be irony or complete hypocrisy?

  4. I think it is okay to copy someone elses work for personal enrichment. For example, I draw from photographs and copy great works of old masters just so I can bet better and it is only for practice. Just don’t copy someone elses work for commercial purpose. There is a difference between inspiration and plagarism.

  5. Walt did it all the time (remember Steamboat Willy?) and look where Dieney Inc is now, and what their opinion on piracy is.

  6. This is a highly charged issue.

    As a photographer AND fine art artists, I cannot understand why Fairey refuses to acknowledge that his work is based on various photographers work – other than the fact, that he will have to pay royalties.

    I take my own photos for use in my artwork so that I do not have to deal with copyright issues. But I would sure be upset if someone tried to do a “derivative” artwork from one of my pieces. I’ve already had to stop at least one artist from doing so.

    However, the whole copyright issue is muddied by the consolidation of image library companies and photo sharing sites like Flickr. The copyright laws have not kept up with technology. The only option for any legal protection now is to register your images with the library of Congress BEFORE you publish anything.

  7. The whining of photographers and other “artists” is more than a little tiresome.

    It’s time to revisit, or better yet, abandon the current copyright scheme. It obviously doesn’t work, except as some sad little crutch for people to complain about “appropriation” of their work.

    • @tde, That is such a penetrating insight, Mr. tde, thank you. I mean, listen to the ‘artist’ in question whine away…

      “I suggest that Mr Fairey credit those whose materials he uses to “inspire” him. The truth of things might help enhance the depth of how his work is perceived and actually make it more interesting to contemplate and not just cool to look at.”

      What an asshole, right? Suggesting Fairey employ honesty and transparency in his work so as to provide a deeper insight into the things he’s trying to convey. I mean really. How sad! Where do these ‘artists’ get off?

      Seriously, Mr. tde, you show the kind of courage we all need in these trying times.

      • @Mike Randolph,

        So the “artists” who whine about Fairey are motivated by a desire to enhance the ability of _Fairey’s_ audience to appreciate Fairey’s work. How swell of them.

        There are (at least) two kinds of whining in the world: there’s the “Hey I want to get come credit and maybe some money for my pictures” and then there is the type of whining that emanates from people who are too cowardly to even admit that self-interest is the motivation for their whining. Which do you think is more fey and precious and annoying?

          • @Mike Randolph,

            Awww, that was cute.

            I’m sorry that you are so angry just because I pointed out the patent idiocy of your post.

            Don’t take it personally.

            • @tde, You gotta be joking, right?

              This is the bottom line; if you have to copy someone else work to make it your own, you’re NOT an artist, you’re a fake. The primary ingredient of art, in my opinion, is the ability to transform your idea into a tangible, visible or audible work. If you’re copying someone else’s translated idea, you’re not creating but, for lack of a better word, expanding on their original idea.
              Failure to credit the source of the original idea amounts to, as Quyna put it, plagiarism.

              Copyright laws were created to protect artists from people who think like you do; people who call themselves artists but are have no idea how to translate an idea into an original piece of work.

              • @Tim,

                Hmmm – that sort of rules out almost all photography as “art” then doesn’t it? I mean that migrant farm worker and her children weren’t Lange’s “idea” were they? Nor was Obama the AP photographer’s idea.

                I am (and I hope this obvious) being a bit of devil’s advocate here, but these categorical claims you are making don’t really withstand examination. I mean, ask yourself this: Look at the “idea” of Obama – who transformed it more, the AP photographer or Fairey? Which is more “original” – the AP photograph which is virtually indistinguishable from dozens if not hundreds of other pics of Obama with a similar expression or the Fairey work which instantly recognizable and iconographic?

                • @tde, The migrant farm worker was Lange’s interpretation of the scene. Two different photographers can look at the same situation and capture different images based on their interpretation. This is the art of photojournalism. Likewise, two viewers can look at an image and have vastly different interpretations based on their social, historical, etc., perspectives.

                  Again, Fairey simply ‘expanded’ an idea that was created from someone else’s visual perspective. He should give credit where credit is due.

                  • @Tim,

                    Ummm, yeah. I am familiar with that argument and I don’t think I will convince that it is facile. But, I think you will at the very least, agree with me that “art” is something of a continuum and a person who uses raw material to create something entirely new is at one end of the spectrum and someone who takes a picture of people sitting the the doorway of a shack are somewhere closer to the other end. That’s not to deny that there are some “artistic” choices made re perspective, framing, exposure, etc..

                    And, I guess we will just have to disagree with your assertion that Fairey merely “expanded” he AP guy’s work. But I would suThe AP photographer took an unremarkable photo of Obama’s image. Fairey took that image and made it into “art.” And “art” in in quotes here because both images are more about commerce or propaganda than they are about art – but that’s a different discussion.

                    • @tde,
                      do you even like photography??

  8. I just wish Richard Prince would appropriate Fairey’s work.

    • @Allen Lee Taylor,

      look at cariou v prince

  9. Taking things that don’t belong to you and not telling the truth about where you got them is behavior that we do not even accept from children. I don’t really understand how somebody makes a name for themselves doing something so unoriginal. Anybody annoyed with Shepard Fairey’s work should try and listen to some of his dime-store political philosophy.

  10. Seems like it would be really easy for the artist to contact the photographer in advance and arrange a nominal fee for using it in his artwork.

    • @Kenny,

      Yes… it’s called licensing, and it happens all the time.

      There is a great article in Charlseton Magazine ( ) about Shepard and his work… the section opens with a photo illustration of Shepard… you unfortunately can’t see it on the website, but the printed article credits both the photographer and the illustrator of the pic… why can’t good ole’ Shep do the same?

  11. From my experience with the art and painting world is that a serious portion of paintings come from someone elses photographs.

    Usually artists look through magazines and the web (ie Getty images, etc) and when they find a cool landscape, portrait, etc they take that photo and essentially paint it (mostly) verbatim. Then they sell their work in galleries.

    Really my point is that this happens all the time and is nothing new from my experience.

  12. I’ve been following Sheps work for over 10 years now. You can say I’m a fan. I have some of his artwork hanging in my house.
    My take on this as always been that it is fair use. He’s not taking a photo and selling it as his photo. He’s not taking a photo and applying a photoshop filter to it and then calling it his original work.
    Shepard’s work is unique from the originals that he is “ripping off”. It is the norm in print making (as well as other forms of visual art) to have reference photos. By re-interpreting images, hand cutting stencils or rubyliths, and collaging various images together he has created original pieces of art. There are situations where he does recreate art from others and puts his obey logo or political message on there. I’m not refering to those situations, but what you don’t realize is that that is the whole concept or message behind the work. The whole obey/andre the giant campaign started out as a social test to see if he could turn a meaningless image into an icon and brand. Guess what, he did it. In that sense he is one of the most successful conceptual artists of our time. Do you know anyone else who has addressed the issues of consumption/consumerism and exploitation of socio-political movements on a level that mimics the exact thing it’s commenting on? I don’t! The irony is so grand! I think it’s amazing what he’s been able to accomplish. Like I said, I’ve been following his work for over 10 years and have closely watched his work evolve to where it is today. Maybe being an observer from early on provides me with the advantage of a different perspective.
    To say he never references the original photos is a blatant lie as well. I’ve been on set during interviews where he talks about the photos, names the photographers and says what an impact the image had on him.
    And to the fact that people get so riled up about this, remember that Shep’s work is most heavily influenced from the cultural movements of punk rock and skateboarding. So your rules and laws can piss right off.

    I’m a photographer and an artist. I strongly believe in copyright protection, but come on people, open up your eyes and get your egos out of the sky (or your asses). Just because you don’t get the concept of the art doesn’t mean its wrong or not valid.

  13. I’m constantly amazed that people don’t already know that Shepard Fairey has used imagery like the above photo in his artwork since the very beginning. I think that people who are surprised and/or angry by this may not be very familiar with his work.

    Art involving appropriation is an easy target for loud headlines but I think anything other than outright plagiarism (with no alterations) and devoid of a change in context or a comment by the artist is art and should be accepted as such. Art has never had much concern or respect for copyrights, and rightly so.

    It should also be noted that Shepard Fairey is a graffiti artist and appropriation, revolutionary imagery and illegality are common themes both within graffiti and Fairey’s work. His art usurps the context of the original image and restates it within his own iconic style. While I’m unsure about the issue of Fairey attributing the images used, knowing where the source image is from enriches the image further.

    I don’t know if Fairey’s work conforms to the legal definition of “Fair Use” and I have even less of a care (beyond it impacting on whether it has an effect on his ability to continue producing art). I enjoy his work, he’s not one of my favourite artists, but I think he has an incredible style, strong opinions and dedication and is incredibly prolific. I have a lot of respect for him.

  14. I Don’t care what you guy’s think i believe that fairey’s art is amazing i just saw his artwork in the ICA. He is a briliant moderne artist

  15. I would agree with Edward all the way, if he could name that boy in his picture not just A CHINESE BOY. His face’s copyright belongs to himself. Period.

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