21 July 2015
Street art supremo and general anti-establishment poster boy Shepard Fairey has been arrested and charged with vandalism and criminal damages. The fresh faced, world renowned artist is best known for his iconic ‘Andre The Giant’motif and for creating the now legendary ‘Hope’ poster for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, which delivered a welcome boost in popularity that many believed help seal the election.
Fairey had been in Malaga preparing for his biggest museum show to date with British artist D*Face when an arrest warrant was issued for him in Detroit, where he had previously been painting his largest ever mural, a 184ft by 60ft behemoth which took him and his team 5 days and over 300 cans of spray paint to complete. The huge piece, which featured much of his signature imagery including a lotus flower, a peace sign and scales of justice was commission by a local business owner and painted legally on the side of an office block.
It was a number of other pieces Fairey pasted or painted on the streets without approval that caught the attention of the city’s anti-street art and overzealous police force. It was hardly a surprise that the works emerged on the street as Fairey has never strayed away from creating art where ever he sees fit. Plus to be even more barefaced he actually told a local newspaper of his plan for a bit of naughty tagging,"I still do stuff on the street without permission. I'll be doing stuff on the street when I'm in Detroit."
Police have accused the artist of causing $9100 worth of damage, (much less than the cost of one of his originals) but Fairey is well versed in paying the price for his street art as he’s been arrested and fined some 18 times over the course of his career to date. However this time the charges brought against him are felonies (much worse) than previous misdemeanours (not so bad). It’s actually the wheat pasted pieces that have got the artist in hot water rather than his spray painted stencil works, as the paste ups are more difficult and costly to remove. The process involves a rather interestingly named industrial cleaning product called ‘Elephant Snot’.