Artist Shepard Fairey took a little time out from visiting family Wednesday to add one of his characteristic designs to the outside wall of Eye Level Art’s Spring Street gallery. The new wheatpaste is the first of Fairey’s work the Lowcountry has seen in the past five years — with the exception of some lingering Andre the Giant stencils and “Obey” stickers on obscure light posts and fans’ skateboards.
Although well-known in the street art scene since his stint at Rhode Island School of Design, Fairey’s popularity exploded after he created the now famous poster of President Obama.
The Charleston native says he broke out from the artistic traditions that tend to dominate art in the area, focusing on graphically inspired images rather than marsh scenes and egrets. “My dad would always say to me, 'You should do the duck stamp, that is the way to be successful in South Carolina,'” Fairey says with a laugh. “There would always be a few contemporary artists doing interesting things here, but it seems like in the last 10 years there has been a scene that has begun to develop [with people] who are interested in pop art, street art, things that are happening outside of what are Charleston art traditions.”
Fairey says that he is excited about the expansions in the local art scene, and points to his friend Tim Hussey’s success as an example of the changing market. Fairey also hinted at plans for an upcoming show in Charleston. Look for more from the City Paper’s interview with Fairey in January.