WTF Podcast

Episode 497 - Shepard Fairey

Artist Shepard Fairey tells Marc how he went from being a renegade street artist to the designer of some of the most iconic images in American culture. Find out what gave rise to the ubiquitous OBEY stickers and the famous HOPE poster used for the Obama campaign. This episode is sponsored by One Night Only: An All-Star Comedy Tribute to Don Rickles on Spike, GoToMeeting by Citrix, and the WNYC app with the new Discover feature. 


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Tad Daniels May 15, 2014 at 2:56 am

Shepard Fairey is a poor man’s Marc Maron.

cool May 15, 2014 at 9:35 am


Bob L May 15, 2014 at 9:53 am

Really good interview. I enjoyed hearing Marc talk about art—it showed his intelligence, and it was great to hear him talking to a really really smart person. Great job.

Fred Hughes III May 15, 2014 at 12:47 pm

Criticizing art is a pretty is a pretty grumpy thing to do, but it’s difficult to appreciate this guy if you are at all a fan of John Carpenter, Andre the Giant, Barbara Kruger, or, heck, the art department at Tower Records circa 1975-1990. I’m not saying, “He’s no Gary Panter/He’s no Raymond Pettibon.” Who is? It’s more that his work leaves me feeling empty, albeit in a format I’m pretty sure I’ve seen before. On top of that, his attempts to explain/justify his art remind me of a comedian explaining his jokes.

Billy May 15, 2014 at 1:21 pm

I love Seapard Fairey! What an awesome interview!

frodo May 15, 2014 at 2:38 pm

I see what you’re saying. He’s a great graphic designer and street artist but I wouldn’t call him a good artist. His work is pretty superficial and empty. it’s cool though it’s good for what it is. he seems like a good guy and it’s not like hes claiming to be something he is not

HowDareYou May 15, 2014 at 3:38 pm

The negative comments made on this page about Shepard Fairey are way, way, way too kind.

Sidd S. May 15, 2014 at 3:47 pm

Good talk. I would love to hear more visual artists on WTF. Someone else already mentioned Gary Panter and Ray Pettibon, hearing Marc interview either of those guys would be fucking great.

Fred Hughes III May 15, 2014 at 3:48 pm

Yeah, but what about the line suggesting design theft from the art department at Tower Records circa 1975-1990? That one was pretty good if I do say so myself.

Maria May 15, 2014 at 4:41 pm

Marc, I have experienced when undergoing times of elevated stress. Once I understood that in most ways it was in my head…most of the symptoms disappeared.
I think getting older is part of it too. Both in that age causes more aches and pains and it can cause some existential dread.
Stretch more, get a really good 2 hour massage and take a lot of walks.
Not too ironically, if you get out of your head and into your body your body will feel better.

Guitar playing can easily cause Carpal Tunnel BTW.

Sidd S. May 15, 2014 at 5:17 pm

@Fred Hughes III

I gotta be honest… I didn’t even listen to the entire interview with Fairey even though I don’t dislike him nearly as much as some others might. I don’t care about his appropriating imagery (like Gary Panter never does that?), I just think his work is too clean and boring. I stopped listening towards the end.

But I really, really want Marc to interview Ray Pettibon, so I had to comment and wanted to keep it positive/neutral.

You’re right though, that was a good line.

Mao Zedong May 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm

The Warhol Retrospective at MOMA was spring/summer 2002, as I recall. I have the commemorative poster of Chairman Mao with lipstick hanging in my classroom. Many students ask, “Is that Warhol?”—Marc, you may have developed your analytical skills to the extent that you’re hard pressed to “enjoy.” I believe that you are likely too demanding of loved ones: recall the buffalo meat story. Let go, Luke; and enjoy the loneliness, too. Call me.

Mao Z May 15, 2014 at 8:11 pm


Michael P. Gowdy May 15, 2014 at 10:01 pm

I made it through half of the show this morning. I’m *absolutely amazed* that no one—neither Marc nor Shepard—has mentioned “Exit Through the Gift Shop.” I know that many underground artists now regard it as a masturbatory exercise for Banksy, and I think that even Shepard himself made some derisive comments about Banksy *in the film.* But it’s really the only reason why I (and many, many other people) are even familiar with him.

Michael P. Gowdy May 15, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Also, when I wrote “I made it through half of the show” I don’t mean that I’m disgusted with it or anything. I’m going to continue to listen to it in a few hours.

Jay May 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm

Some of you may be Stuckists.

“The making of true art is man’s desire to communicate with himself, his fellows and his God. Art that fails to address these issues is not art.” - Remodernism manifesto

Bill Maher May 16, 2014 at 2:48 am

Marc, because of your brief “erection” bit in today’s monologue, I feel like maybe we know one another. I hope yours is doing just fine, truly, thank you.
It is late in the evening. I’ve just returned from the Fox Theater, Riverside, where I garnered the backstage welcome from Seinfeld. Miller opened. I’m rather tipsy, hence the word ‘hence.’” Miller is still Miller: the luckiest thing. Seinfeld, still wholehearted.
How now, Burbank. Wond’rous. I hope you appreciate the comments offered of recent. I propose rather collegiate goes at psychotherapy—your own, often—which I find to be a continuing practice in rather accidental, cerebral acumen. I can’t stay the impulse, either.
Work in the morning—the wild winds this week twice threatened power lines right out midday.
See me soon.

Jerry Seinfeld May 16, 2014 at 5:35 am

Congratulations on the new ‘Maron’ season. The second episode was really great. It had a mood and a flow that was almost cinematographic, it was also much more funny than previous episodes because it stayed true to its own rhythm, with a more matured self-confidence. Plus the supporting characters were great. Looking forward to see the rest of the season.

ps: Did Bill Maher just wrote a drunk comment?

Jerry Seinfeld May 16, 2014 at 5:39 am

“write” damnit! not “wrote”. Guess I’m drunk too.

Greg May 16, 2014 at 8:59 am

I wish you’d asked Fairey how he felt about Obama/Hope image now given Obama’s sordid track record as President.  I had wrongly assumed that the image included at least a little irony but your interview demonstrated the depths of Fairey’s political naivete.

Also I’d be careful celebrating “populism”.  History is chock full of megalomaniacs who gained power thanks to the support of populists.  The fucking US tea party movement is a populist movement (fueled in part by billionaire $$) after all.

Love your podcast and TV show.  Hope to see one of your shows in Indiana or Chicago. peace

Kate May 16, 2014 at 10:28 am


I’m a big fan and listen to nearly every episode of the podcast, but dude…you’ve GOT to stop asking the guests just “what [their] old man did.” I know it probably comes from your own experience with your father but it comes across as old fashioned and a wee bit sexist.


mr. brain May 16, 2014 at 11:54 am

Good thing Exit through… wasn’t mentioned, it’s not worth mentioning. The funny thing about it is that Banksy’s “serious” work isn’t much better than Mr. Brainwash’s. Just because you add some lame political message doesn’t make it any more meaningful.

marc Maron May 16, 2014 at 11:58 am

I am such a tool. I act righteous then am talked into anything. Sorry to admit this here. I try to be hip. Sorry, let me drown in food like a hairy baby

everyman May 16, 2014 at 3:04 pm

Well, that is fun. I think that’s actually Mr. Seinfeld!

someguy May 16, 2014 at 3:08 pm

Not sure about Maher, though. Doesn’t sound like him.

Mikhail Bakhtin May 16, 2014 at 3:17 pm

...Ah, the dialogic imagination…
By the way, has anyone any tobacco? I’m stuck in Siberia.
—Regards from this cerebrum’s tundra

G. Costanza May 16, 2014 at 3:18 pm

Nice try, Bill.

Skylar May 17, 2014 at 9:14 am

Awesome interview Marc. I’m from SC and this was just wow.  Thanks Marc!

Jesse Koechling May 18, 2014 at 1:19 am

Yes to more interviews with artists!

Smitty June 03, 2014 at 7:01 am

hey…....  you all from the South, that get mad at Marc for his supposed condescension toward ya’ll;listen to Shepard, because he gets IT better than 95% of white Northeners.  we don’t just dislike the south,we dislike your cruel history,your political pathology,and your continued judicial travesties. no reasonable person can, or will, look beyond that.  all the hospitality and charm in the world aint gonna erase that shit…  If you/we had one in ten like Shepard,what a country/world this could be.  our dismay with the South doesn’t come out of whim,it’s based on too much nastiness that you guys are indifferent to,or want to sweep under the rug. now clean house,or shut the hell the up!

Smitty June 03, 2014 at 7:18 am

btw-  it was Nader that needed to get in the first time around,not the great big disappointment that we have.  i’d imagine that Shepard gets that.