Shepard Fairey to Design and Paint a Mural at Santa Fe University of Art and Design

Fairey will also participate in a lecture and Q&A conversation for the campus and wider Santa Fe community

Santa Fe University of Art and Design (SFUAD) announced today that contemporary artist and graphic designer Shepard Fairey will visit Santa Fe for a lecture and Q&A discussion and will create a mural design as part of the university’s 2013–2014 Artists for Positive Social Change series. The lecture and Q&A, free and open to the public, will be hosted by Graphic Design Department chair David Grey and held at SFUAD’s Greer Garson Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 7 p.m. Fairey will also design and paint a permanent outdoor campus mural during the week of Feb. 18.

Launched in 2011, Artists for Positive Social Change is a university-wide series of events, courses, lectures and performances exploring a specific theme relevant to society and the work of artists who push the creative boundaries of their profession. This year’s theme is “Art and Political Activism.”

Over the past 20 years, Fairey has seen a meteoric rise to become one of the most influential contemporary artists today, with a multitude of international mural projects and exhibitions that began in the early 90’s.  In 1989, while attending Rhode Island School of Design, Fairey created the “Andre the Giant has a Posse” image, which ignited and evolved into the present-day OBEY GIANT campaign. Though they started with an absurd sticker, the OBEY GIANT graphics have since taken cues from popular culture, commercial marketing and political messaging to change the way people see art and the urban landscape.

In 2003, Fairey founded Studio Number One, a creative firm dedicated to applying his ethos wherever art and enterprise intersect. Building on Fairey’s approach to designing striking, thought-provoking work, the company has evolved into its own creative entity and become one of the top boutique agencies in the country. The firm has produced artwork for a number of high-profile bands and motion pictures, including the Black Eyed Peas, the Smashing Pumpkins, Flogging Molly, Led Zeppelin, and the film Walk the Line.

In 2008, his portrait of then-Democratic candidate Barack Obama, with the word ”HOPE” under the illustration, became an internationally recognized emblem of the Obama campaign and a symbol of political change for many. The artwork now resides in the Smithsonian Institution in its National Portrait Gallery as an official presidential portrait.

“I enjoy any opportunity to share my work and my philosophy that art can be about aesthetics and escapism, but simultaneously ideas and engagement,” said Fairey. “I strive to erode the perceived barriers between fine art and graphic art. My public art and many other chosen platforms are democratic and invite the audience into the dialog.”

Along with the Obama campaign, Fairey has also donated artwork and made contributions to charitable organizations and causes such as the ACLU, MoveOn, Hope for Darfur, the Chiapas Relief Fund, marriage equality reform, 11th Hour Action, Hurricane Katrina relief, The Art of Elysium, Southern California fire relief, shelters for L.A. teens, children’s charities in Iraq and the United States, Free the West Memphis 3, Feeding America, and the Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation.

Fairey has continued to progress with his art, with a 20-year retrospective museum exhibition that began at the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston, in 2009 and continued to the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh and the Contemporary Art Center in Cincinnati. Last year, he was commissioned by Time Magazine to design a cover in celebration of “The Protester,” an anonymous figure representative of momentous world demonstrations such as the Arab Spring and Occupy movement. It was his second Time cover. He has also designed covers for Rolling Stone and Esquire magazines.

“Few visual artists working today have impacted contemporary culture as Shepard has,” said David Scheinbaum, SFUAD’s director of photography and artist-in-residence, who spearheaded the Artists for Positive Social Change initiative. “Not without controversy, Shepard is an artist who has stayed consistent with his message and offered his work for use by numerous politically active groups, as well as to reinforce his own thoughts and opinions.”

Other events in this year’s Artists for Positive Social Change series have included a multimedia presentation by arts supporter and musician Tom Maguire called Barbarians at the Gate – Stravinsky, Diaghilev & the Ballets Russes, as well as a simulcast of New York’s Creative Time Summit, whose theme was “Confronting Inequity.” Additional events will be announced in the spring.

Tickets will be required for community admittance to the lecture and Q&A on Feb. 17 and can be picked up free of charge in early February. No reservations will be accepted; a maximum of four tickets will be given to individuals on a first-come, first-served basis.

For more on Fairey and OBEY GIANT, visit

About Artists for Positive Social Change
Santa Fe University of Art and Design’s Artists for Positive Social Change is a groundbreaking, university-wide series of events, lectures and performances that highlights one theme each year as part of a five-year initiative. All departments of the university engage in an in-depth exploration of the chosen theme, discussing the work of relevant artists who have respectfully and fearlessly pushed the creative boundaries of their medium. During the initiative’s inaugural 2011–2012 academic year, Artists for Positive Social Change focused on hip-hop not just as entertainment, but as a significant form of communication and a cultural force around the world.

About Santa Fe University of Art and Design
Santa Fe University of Art and Design is an accredited institution located in Santa Fe, New Mexico, one of the world’s leading centers for art and design. The university offers degrees in arts management, contemporary music, creative writing, digital arts, graphic design, film, performing arts, photography and studio art. Faculty members are practicing artists who teach students in small groups, following a unique interdisciplinary curriculum that combines hands-on experience with core theory and prepares graduates to become well-rounded, creative, problem-solving professionals. As a Laureate International Universities Center of Excellence in Art, Architecture and Design, the university boasts an international student body and opportunities to study abroad, encouraging students to develop a global perspective on the arts. Santa Fe University of Art and Design is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and a member of the North Central Association,