Andre Still Has a Posse

28 11 2007

Obey Image

Today I took the brand new Karmaloop TV service from Karmaloop for a spin today, and it definitely has a lot of promise. I always dig an ‘insider’ look at an underground-type of industry. My favorite segment so far is an interview with Shepard Fairey, artist and founder of Obey. It was a Fairey experiment that produced the famous image above, which you probably recognize if you were skating in the mid-90’s.

Before I get to the content of the interview though, let me just say that Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe clearly should not be interviewing people. He is eating the microphone, his questions are pretty dumb, and he introduces himself with aliases? Who does that besides Sal Masekela and Sway? It detracts from the person you are trying to interview and just doesn’t look very professional. I admire him because he has been pretty successful, but leave the interviewing to someone else!

Once Shepard Fairey took over the interview, it became very insightful. He spoke on his humble roots and how the whole ‘Andre the Giant has a posse’ meme came about. Fairey really goes global when commenting on his reaction to the growth of the ‘Andre’ image:

“…it really opened my mind to the ideas of an image in public sparking a reaction that is something that is outside of advertising and the usual signage that you see that raises people’s awareness about what’s going on around them.”

I had just read something about influential street artist Banksy and his exhibit here in New York. Fairey’s comments got my mind rolling on the whole awareness idea. In advertising, we really inundate the public with ‘awareness’ campaigns that are trashed and forgotten almost immediately. Today one of my clients sent out almost two million direct mailings to consumers. They are hoping 95-98% of recipients don’t trash the piece immediately.

Comparatively, Fairey’s Andre image was first published on a sticker in 1989, and almost twenty years later his art has grown into not only a full business, but has influenced many people to look at the world in a different way.

All we have to do is take some time and create real creative work for our clients. More than just words on a page describing policies and legal. Make them feel something as well. This can be accomplished just as thoroughly with art as a traditional print or TV campaign. But make it something rare – make it something your target will seek out and obtain, rather than have it stuffed into their mailbox. Only then can we create influential works to last over time.

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