The figure behind the iconic “HOPE” Obama poster has a new documentary on Hulu. “Obey Giant: The Art of Shepard Fairey is an intimate profile of the street artist and is a must-watch for creatives of all types. The film takes viewers into the world of street art, and in particular, Fairey’s art-turned-controversy. Art is political, now more than ever, and Fairey’s documentary comes on the heels of a growing tide of new political movements throughout the world.
Obey Giant chronicles the life story of Fairey rising from art design school to art icon. You get to see his court battle with the AP over the image source for the “HOPE” poster, as well as hear him discuss his artistic influences. Along the way, Fairey discusses progress and his hope for the future in his candid look. The artist told The Hollywood Reporter that it was important to show “the triumphs and failures in someone’s life story.” Director James Moll (Foo Fighters: Back and Forth, Farmland, The Last Days) is behind the camera of Obey Giant, the film’s title sharing the name of Fairey’s company.
Fairey can be a magnet for controversy, but he’s also a passionate advocate and uses art to communicate his feelings on social issues. After the Paris attacks in November 2015, he made a poster of French national icon, Marianne, as a gift for the now-President of France, Emmanuel Macron. Other works have included large-scale murals of figures for peace including Mandela, posters for shelter dogs, marriage equality, and more.
He first became known in the street art world with the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” sticker, and the film traces his greatest hits, including this piece — which he says was just made to demonstrate screenprinting to a friend. Fairey began printing stickers and posters featuring the “OBEY” image with Andre, taking inspiration from the cult film They Live. His work has now evolved to include multiple gallery installations in the world’s hottest galleries and his Obey clothing. With Obey Clothing, Fairey creates apparel with messages to consumers, saying:
“The OBEY campaign is rooted in the Do It Yourself counterculture of punk rock and skateboarding, but it has also taken cues from popular culture, commercial marketing and political messaging. Fairey steeps his ideology and iconography in self-empowerment. With biting sarcasm verging on reverse psychology, he goads viewers, using the imperative “obey,” to take heed of the propagandists out to bend the world to their agendas.”
If you’ve ever seen an OBEY sticker and wondered what the story behind it was, then Obey Giant is here to end the mystery with an incredible portrait of one of the most imaginative artists in the industry today. Just like the rest of his work, it spreads a message of non-consumerism and political activism to the masses.
Obey Giant is now available for streaming on Hulu.