Shepard Fairey, Obey Ideal Power Mural, NFT

The Ledger / Spotlight

Shepard Fairey: Exploring incarnations of power

Explore how street artist Shepard Fairey’s uses his art as a force for good and discover the message behind his inaugural NFT.

By Vinciane Jones


Shepard Fairey is an internationally acclaimed artist. He initially gained notoriety with his “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker that transformed into the OBEY GIANT art campaign and changed the way people see art and the urban landscape. In 2008, he achieved worldwide recognition with the Hope poster he created of Barack Obama. Today, his stickers, guerrilla street art presence and public murals and recognized globally. Fairey’s works are in the permanent collections MoMA, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and many others. The artist has painted more than 105 large-scale murals across five continents worldwide, most recently in Dubai for his first solo show in the Middle East.

Shepard Fairey has created his inaugural NFT work, minted on March 29 in exclusive partnership with Verisart and SuperRare as part of 10×10: 10 inaugural NFTs by 10 major contemporary artists over 10 weeks. Bidding is open on SuperRare until 3:30pm EDT April 1.

Shepard Fairey, Obey Ideal Power Mural, NFT
Shepard Fairey, Obey Ideal Power Mural, NFT

Incarnations of Power

Fairey’s inaugural NFT is an evolution of a mural the artist created in the physical world for a 2017 show at Library Street Collective called “Damaged”. The work is an exploration of the various incarnations of power. The artist explains, “Art has power. I’m interested in using art to raise awareness for the important political and social issues of our time. Power has many forms and is embraced or feared depending on who that power benefits, who it oppresses, who it uplifts, and who wields it.”

Shepard Fairey, Peace Dove, courtesy of the artist.
Shepard Fairey, Peace Dove, courtesy of the artist.

Fairey continues, “The Obey Ideal Power mural explores different incarnations of power and asks the viewer to consider the negative impacts of certain forms of power and the social and environmental benefits of other forms of power. For me, ideal power does not destroy the environment or corrupt democracy, but uplifts the oppressed, expands equality, cultivates peace, honors truth, and works in harmony with nature. The Obey Ideal Power mural intends to provoke an honest analysis of power that should be reformed or regulated because of the damage it causes and encouragement to value the power that aligns with and perpetuates one’s ideals.”

Shepard Fairey, Dwindling Stocks, courtesy of the artist.
Shepard Fairey, Dwindling Stocks, courtesy of the artist.

Art as a force for good

Fairey also wants to ensure his art is a force for good in more ways than one. Along with raising awareness about political and social issues, the artist actively wants to spark change himself. Shepard Fairey will be personally donating a part of the proceeds from his first original NFT art drop to Amnesty International via Verisart’s Fair Trade Art certificate.

Shepard Fairey, Corrupt Influence, courtesy of the artist.
Shepard Fairey, Corrupt Influence, courtesy of the artist.

Fairey explains, “In an attempt to manifest the ideals I champion in my art in the real world, I donate a portion of the proceeds from this work to Amnesty International to support their important human rights efforts. By using the Verisart Fair Trade Art certificate, collectors will know what charitable cause the work supports.”

Shepard Fairey, Obey Ideal Power Mural, Fair Trade Art Certificate of Authenticity by Verisart, courtesy of Verisart.
Shepard Fairey, Obey Ideal Power Mural, Fair Trade Art Certificate of Authenticity by Verisart, courtesy of Verisart.

Shepard Fairey’s NFT is certified with a Fair Trade Art Certificate from Verisart, an award-winning blockchain certification platform. Fair Trade Art is an initiative by Verisart designed to bring together artists and social impact organizations to do good. The certificate signals that funds from the sale of the artwork are benefiting a charitable cause.

Designed to empower artists to tell the story of their work, the digital certificates include additional images, videos and documents. Shepard Fairey’s certificate includes an exclusive video of the artist speaking about his work, accessible only to the owner of the certificate. For collectors, Verisart’s patent-pending Certificates of Authenticity (COA) form an integral part of collecting NFTs. They provide confidence in the identity of the artist and the verified history of the artwork.

Shepard Fairey, Damaged, courtesy of the artist.
Shepard Fairey, Damaged, courtesy of the artist.

An artist and an activist

Over his career, Fairey has frequently used his work to explore social and political issues. His iconic “Hope” portrait of Barack Obama, became the emblem of the 44th president of the United States of America’s election campaign. In 2017, the artist created the “We The People” series in collaboration with Amplifier, a nonpartisan campaign dedicated to igniting a national dialogue about American identity and values through public art and story sharing. The images are freely downloadable from Amplifier’s website and were recognizable during the Women’s Marches and other rallies worldwide in defense of national and global social justice issues.

Shepard Fairey, Target Exceptions Ruby, courtesy of the artist.
Shepard Fairey, Target Exceptions Ruby, courtesy of the artist.

Fairey also uses his art to respond to current events. More recently, during the Covid-19 outbreak, the artist joined forces with Adobe to create downloadable works that celebrate the bravery of health care workers and volunteers on the front lines of the pandemic. Ultimately, what makes Shepard Fairey’s art so powerful is its strong visual appeal combined with the ability to provoke emotions and spark conversations about important issues in the world today.

About the artist

Shepard Fairey was born in Charleston, South Carolina. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts in Illustration at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, Rhode Island. In 1989 he created the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker that transformed into the OBEY GIANT art campaign. After more than 30 years, his work has evolved into an acclaimed body of art, including the 2008 “Hope” portrait of Barack Obama, found at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery.

His works are in the permanent collections of the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and many others.

Shepard Fairey in his studio, courtesy of the artist.
Shepard Fairey in his studio, courtesy of the artist.

Bidding for Shepard Fairey’s NFT, Obey Ideal Power Mural closes around 3:30pm EDT on April 1.

Join Shepard Fairey on ART TALKS WITH VERISART to hear him discuss life, art and tech with Robert Norton, CEO and co-founder of Verisart. Tuesday, March 30 at 3pm ET/8pm BST on Clubhouse

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