Growing up in California during the late-eighties-early-nineties graffiti art was everywhere. Through highschool seeing an ‘Andre The Giant Has a Posse’ poster or an ‘OBEY’ sticker was a normal thing. But honestly, it wasn’t until I moved to New York years later that I began to understand how widespread Shepard Fairey’s work had become. I saw the same stickers, the same posters. Everywhere.
A few months ago Fairey was in town for SXSW. He pasted up a huge Obey poster East Austin near my studio. I smiled every day when I drove past. Still the same posters. Everywhere.
The OBEY message has always resinated with me. I think it’s become lost in the art, but the message in John Carpenter’s 1988 film ‘They Live’ (this is where Fairey ‘appropriated’ OBEY. But you knew that, right?) seems just as relevant now as… well… anytime. Ever.
In the film a wealthy controlling class dumbs down the minds of the masses. You OBEY the television. You OBEY the radio. You OBEY what you are told. Money, THIS IS YOUR GOD. MONEY IS GOD. OBEY. DO AS YOU ARE TOLD.
Luckily, in the film Rowdy Roddy Piper found out that the wealthy controlling class was actually space aliens. So he put a stop to their crap pronto. But that’s another story.
Here in 2011, when it feels like the House of Representatives has betrayed us, and lunatics rage across the country campaigning for election, what’s a guy to do but make this photo? It’s the best I’ve got.