Shepard Fairey, L.A.'s unofficial street-art laureate, has in recent years reaped a lot of publicity and fame from Time magazine's use of his work.
There was the “Hope” cover image of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama, based on a poster that put Fairey in hot water because he lied after it was learned it was derived from an Associated Press image used without permission. And then there was Time's 2011 “Person of the Year,” the Occupy protester. That one highlighted a Fairey illustration based on a photograph by longtime L.A. Weekly contributor Ted Soqui.
The latest Shepard Fairey image to grace the nation's premier news magazine isn't a Shepard Fairey work at all. And he's not happy about it.
It's a “Hope”-style image on Time's lastest cover, which trumpets the “Change” resulting from the midterm elections and the related ascension of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to Majority Leader in January.
Republicans will control both houses of Congress. “Change” is, ironically, an American rebuke of the so-called hope and new politics promised by Obama.
Fairey's not big fan of the GOP, and he made that known in a rant on Facebook over the weekend. He didn't fault Time for mimicking his style (after all, it's one of the many hands that feeds him), but he did want it known for the record that he's not celebrating:
… The new Mitch McConnell Time cover is not a cover I would ever do. While I appreciate Time’s irony. I don’t agree with the politics of the Republican party, or Mitch McConnell’s voting record. It’s always flattering to be referenced, even in a sarcastic way, but I take the future of our democracy, our country, and the well being of its citizens very seriously. CHANGE is right, but it is in the wrong direction. With the mid-term elections the country took a step backward. I don’t think the Republican platform of tax breaks for the rich, voter suppression, never ending war and fear-mongering, corporate welfare, sexism, and lack of empathy for the struggles of the shrinking middle class really align with the values of most Americans. In my opinion, many Americans voted against their own interests, or did not vote at all in the mid-terms. The result is that the situation for the average American will now be worse and policies that favor corporate interests and Wall Street will be the norm.
Interestingly, a guy who has made a handsome living in one of the most Latino cities in the nation didn't mention the hottest divide in politics today, the fight between congressional Republicans and the Obama administration over immigration reform.
Obama doesn't think it's feasible to deport all the people who are here illegally (though he has deported millions), many of whom came here as young children. Some deportations would split families that include both legal and undocumented members. Many Republicans, including President George W. Bush and Sen. John McCain, have in the past agreed with the approach favored by Obama, but today the party is under the spell of a xenophobic and brown-fearing far right.
In any case, it doesn't look like Fairey is going to object formally to the style bite represented by Time's cover. He just wants you to know, “I use my art to promote justice, and the Republican agenda is the opposite of my vision of justice.”