Good Minds Suggest: Shepard Fairey's Favorite Books for Underground Artists

Posted by Goodreads on October 5, 2015
Shepard Fairey

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In 2008, Shepard Fairey spent a single day designing a campaign poster for presidential hopeful Barack Obama. Today that poster hangs in the National Portrait Gallery, its "Hope" slogan and stylized stencil lines making up one of the most recognizable American images since Uncle Sam. That one day of work made Fairey a pop culture icon, but the street artist had been making waves for years, first with his "Andre the Giant Has a Posse" campaign in the early '90s and then with his OBEY Clothing brand, which incorporates provocative propaganda into each design. His new book, Covert to Overt: The Under/Overground Art of Shepard Fairey, showcases his most recent and never-before-published work across a multitude of mediums—murals, music and art collaborations, silk screen work, mixed-media installations, and more. Each is a bold blend of art, politics, and street culture. Fairey shares the books that impacted his worldview and inspired him to create art with a purpose.

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein
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"This Changes Everything did just that for me. I've been a longtime advocate for climate change, but this book inspired me and continues to inspire me. The future of our planet is the most important cause there is. Klein thoroughly and compellingly examines the causes of climate change and the systemic roadblocks to reversing it. I know the book—and her upcoming film based on this book—will have a lasting impact. It's overwhelmingly clear through the book that income inequality, lack of corporate oversight, campaign finance, lobbying, and many other current strands of capitalism are all related to our inability to significantly counter climate change. We ALL need to protect humanity and the planet if we want to protect our future."


1984 by George Orwell
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"I read Animal Farm first, but 1984 was an even more intense examination of manipulation and psychological control that made me understand just how necessary it is to push back against restricting freedom of speech and the need to question propaganda. Big Brother has been a theme in a lot of my work, and I even named a show in London 'Nineteen Eighty Fouria' based on the seemingly joyful embrace of expanding surveillance in London post-9/11."


The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
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"As a 13- or 14-year-old, I was insecure and felt a lot of anxiety about how I fit in socially and academically at my strict private school. Reading The Catcher in the Rye, I related very profoundly to Holden Caulfield as an intelligent but self-sabotaging high school student. I enjoyed the humor and the social observations of Holden's character, and I felt a kinship that made my insecurities about my own dysfunction a little less paralyzing. The book was very good therapy for me and made me more comfortable sharing my own thoughts."


Keith Haring Journals by Keith Haring
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"I was honored to write the foreword for the Keith Haring Journals back in 2010. I've always admired Haring on many levels, and I think he paved the way for the current crop of street artists who have crossed into the galleries and other areas of consumer culture. Not only was Haring a great artist in his style and technique, but his philosophies were very influential to me. He believed the public had a right to art and that whether that was achieved by putting work in the subways as murals, or as affordable products in his Pop Shop, he wanted all tiers of society to access his work. He also did a lot of work for social causes, including AIDs awareness, drug awareness, and antinuclear proliferation. I follow the model Haring created with my own work in many ways. The book is a very illuminating journey through Haring's thought process that was incredibly sophisticated for someone so young. These journals demonstrate Haring's intellect, drive, and humanity. I highly recommend checking this updated edition out."


Seize the Time: The Story of the Black Panther Party and Huey P. Newton by Bobby Seale
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"Prior to reading Seize the Time, I believed the hype and thought that the Black Panthers were mostly whitey haters with a great logo and cool outfits. I took a deeper look because of Public Enemy, but what really made me understand the humanity of the Black Panthers was this book. It chronicles black life in Oakland and the need for an organization to protect blacks from racist police and to institute social programs for the black community that the local government does not provide. Seale has a great balance in the book of storytelling with human and amusing lingo, but he also speaks with deep conviction about the role of the Panthers and his admiration for Huey P. Newton."




Vote for your own favorites on Listopia: Best Books About Artists in Fiction



Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Giu (new)

Giu Magnani Great list! Love Fairey's work.


message 2: by Nancy (new)

Nancy Robson This Changes Everything is, in my mind, a hugely important book to read and consider-- and to work out in both large ways and small, what changes we as individuals can make, even incrementally, to improve how we are impacting our given environment. I read it in companion with What Has Nature Ever Done for Us? How Money Really Does Grow on Trees by Tony Juniper.


message 3: by Thiago (new)

Thiago Aranha C


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