Last week, Shepard Fairey pled guilty to one count of criminal contempt for “destroying documents, manufacturing evidence and other misconduct in his case involving his ‘Hope’ poster of Barack Obama.” The artist had used Associated Press photographer Mannie Garcia’s photo for his Obama “Hope” poster without obtaining proper licenses from the AP. In 2011, the AP case was settled out of court, after Fairey admitted that he had falsified evidence in order to conceal his actions.
It seems as though the settlement, and subsequent criminal charges did little to deter Fairey from defrauding other artists. In her blog post that was featured on the Walker Art Center’s homepage, photographer Dina Douglass details how Fairey violated the licensing agreement for her copyrighted image of cancer survivor Jessica Ikenberry. A confidential settlement was reached, and Douglass has now received credit for her image.
In other Shepard Fairy news, the artist recently played himself on The Simpsons, in an episode titled “Exit Through the Kwik-E Mart,” a reference to the Banksy street-art documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop. In his column, “Culture Monster”, LA Times culture reporter David Ng muses about the Fairey guest appearance:
The episode suggests that Fairey is more than just a sell-out — he’s also a fraud and a phony. Should we read his participation in Sunday’s episode as a confession, an acknowledgment that all of the above are true? Or is it an ironic gesture? Rife with teasing ambiguities, Fairey’s cameo could be the best, or at least most intriguing work of art of his career.