UPDATE: It appears that Shepard Fairey has dropped his cease-and-desist order against Cafepress and Larkin Werner's Steelerbaby store. My sources tell me it was dropped on March 10th-- days after my post about the issue.
Disobey Shepard Fairey by Brian Sherwin -- Myartspace Blog
There are three rumors floating around as to why Shepard Fairey dropped his cease-and-desist order-- all of which suggest that he did it in order to save face:
1.) Shepard Fairey did not want the negative press going into his case against the Associated Press-- kind of hard to be a champion of "fair use" when you oppose it, true? After all, Fairey sent the cease-and-desist letter a week or so before his last interview on NPR. During that interview he suggested that he is going against the AP in order to secure the rights of all artists who work under "fair use". Perhaps he is finally realizing that part of that involves people being able to parody his widely known posters and trademark? Or maybe he just took a big gun away from the Associated Press countersuit?
2.) Lawrence Lessig, Anthony Falzone, and the Fair Use Project did not want negative press concerning contradictions of "fair use" in regards to their client-- Shepard Fairey. After all, the Fair Use Project supports an extended interpretation of "fair use" in general. It would not look good if their client flip-flops on his opinion of "fair use". Shepard Fairey often appears to have a selective interpretation of "fair use"-- as in it is OK for him to parody-- or comment on visually-- the work of others while at the same time sending legal threats when emerging artists parody his world renowned images. Due to this it has been suggested that Shepard Fairey is only interested in "Fairey use".
3.) Shepard Fairey did not want negative press-- period. It seems the press honeymoon is over. Recently Shepard Fairey has been ripped apart by the press-- a far cry from the constant praise he received for months due to his work for the Obama campaign. Shepard Fairey of all people should understand the double-edged sword of mass media. It can’t be butterflies and awards all the time.
Needless to say, Werner's 'Obey Steelerbaby' items have returned to Cafepress, www.cafepress.com/steelerbaby.
At some point the artist who says "question everything" must answer some difficult questions from fans, critics, and collectors concerning his ethics, the validity of his art, and the contradictions that have shadowed his career-- questions that can't be answered by a resume of good deeds. The sidestepping and using charity as a shield during interviews must stop if he is to be taken serious. To put it bluntly, post after post from SuperTouch and other Fairey friends can't hide the fact that people are demanding answers.
What are your thoughts concerning this situation? Do you think Shepard Fairey honestly supports “fair use”? Or do you feel that he is only interested in --as the Phantom Street Artist calls it-- “Fairey use”? Did the Fair Use Project make a mistake in representing Shepard Fairey? What is your opinion of Shepard Fairey in general? What are your thoughts?
Links of Interest:
Steelerbaby Blues by Chris Young -- Pittsburgh City Paper
Fair Use: Shepard Fairey and Baxter Orr by Brian Sherwin -- Myartspace Blog
Birds of a Feather Flock Together: Damien Hirst & Shepard Fairey / Cartrain & Baxter Orr by Brian Sherwin -- Myartspace Blog
Integrity Lost: Lawrence Lessig helps Shepard Fairey by Brian Sherwin -- Myartspace Blog
The Phantom Street Artist speaks out against Shepard Fairey in Citizen LA by Brian Sherwin -- Myartspace Blog
Take care, Stay true,