Interview: Shepard Fairey

By EVAN J. GARZA  |  January 27, 2009

When I put my work into a museum, or a gallery, I try to maintain the spirit of what's on the street, but I make something that is a little bit more refined and has more subtleties, more depth, and more of a seductive surface quality. I make all the work with the exact same techniques I use for the street, so the spirit of the street is there. I feel like there's a fairly seamless connection.

What influence does your clothing line have on how your art is perceived?
I think clothing is an unintimidating canvas for my graphics. And no matter how much people say that's going to devalue my fine art, I'm always going to do it.

What's your most fucked-up arrest story?
There've been a few. Denver wasn't great because I literally had a gun pointed at my head for putting posters up at the DNC. But the worst one was in 2003. I got arrested in Chinatown [New York City] doing a billboard. Got beaten up by the cops. They were telling me, "Fucking stop! Don't move! We'll shoot you," and I knew they weren't going to shoot me for putting a poster on a blank billboard. Once I'm cuffed, they're tackling me and punching me in the street. One of the cops cut his knuckle on the ground trying to punch me in the face. So they pressed felony charges against me, and luckily there were some witnesses and so the case was dropped. . . . All in all, compared to all the stuff I've done, I've gotten off pretty easily.

We got pulled over earlier today by an undercover cop. I jumped out of the car and put a sticker on a pole. And the next thing you know, an unmarked car pulls up. [Makes siren noise] That's why we were late getting here.

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