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50 Shades of Black Recap


My 50 Shades of Black show opened on Wednesday night and the turnout was amazing. I was honoured to have so many great people come to the show including musicians Ian MacKaye from Minor Threat, Chuck Dukowski from Black Flag, Matt Sorum from Guns ‘n’ Roses, Clem Burke and Frank Infante from Blondie, Tim Armstrong from Rancid, Danny Boy from House of Pain, Moby and Flea.

The music component of the evening was amazing starting off with The Shrine making ear drums bleed with their Black Flag meets Black Sabbath strain of skate rock heaviness. They are westside skate punks, so it was great to see O.G. icons Jeff Ho and Jim Muir from Zephyr and Dogtown at the show.


Next up was my friend, collaborator and favourite DJ…. Z-Trip. Z-Trip added some fresh mixes to the amazing music he put together for my SOUND & VISION show and to top it off he brought out a special guest named LL Cool J!


LL is the coolest guy and he crushed us all like jellybeans running through ‘Mama Said Knock You Out’, ‘I’m Bad’ and ‘Rock the Bells’. Those are possibly my three favourite songs of his so I was blown away to have Z-Trip and LL Cool J performing them together in my gallery parking lot!


The show (art and music) was a huge production so a big thanks to Dan Flores, Lorrie Boula, Erica Overskei, Kevin Abrantes and the rest of our staff for making it happen. Thanks to Jon Furlong for the great photos too. The show is up for a month so if you couldn’t get in to the opening then stop by and have a listen to my favourite records. – Shepard Fairey




Yesterday was officially Earth Day; considering that this is the only place we all have to live I think we should treat EVERY day as Earth Day. I’m not a ‘wake up and grow yerrr own vegetables or die… meeeaaannn kinda guy but hey, it’s cool if you are. I’m mostly just a believer in keeping the earth inhabitable for future generations.


We don’t need to behave like greedy, short-sighted pigs and we certainly shouldn’t let our corporations behave that way at our expense and their profit. I didn’t create this image for Earth Day I made it for any day – but it fits and while we are on the Earth Day topic – let’s not let the corporations paint our green earth black… let’s do what we can to paint our blackening earth a little more green. When I release this ‘Paint It Black’ print a portion of the proceeds will go to the NRDC to support responsible environmental policy. Enjoy the ambience today, because I’ve noticed that the atmosphere here isn’t what it used to be. Let’s reverse that trend while we still can. Thanks for caring. – Shepard Fairey




I’ve been a die–hard music fan since my youth but I began to understand the structure of music when I learned to DJ 12 years ago. After a few years of DJing with vinyl a program called Serato was introduced that allowed me to DJ using MP3s with the same control I had with vinyl. As a bonus though, unlike vinyl, MP3s can be edited and remixed.

My first production endeavours were simple re-edits of songs for improved mixing; my friend John Goff, a lifelong analogue and electronic musician, would help me with these re-edits and indulged me as I became more ambitious with my arrangements. John suggested that we build some original music together so we created some instrumental compositions.

We then serendipitously met Merritt Lear and her former bandmate Joe Cassidy who added incredible vocals, melody ideas, guitar, production and arrangement. We completed two songs, decided to name our project NØISE, and to rush produce a 7 inch for release at my 50 Shades of Black art show. I worked up some art for a screen-printed cover and we cut and glued 500 sleeves to complete the NØISE – Little Lions 45 RPM 7 inch.


Additionally all 500 are signed and numbered but will still be priced at $10… with no added ‘Art Tax’ in sight. You can listen to the music on the turntables provided in the Subliminal Projects gallery or buy it for the art. To be clear though, this is not an art project with music included, it is a music project with art included. We’ll release some stuff digitally eventually but it’s vinyl only for now. – Shepard Fairey




The artwork in 50 Shades of Black is inspired by the 12-inch record cover format. Since 2006 Shepard Fairey has continuously created artwork with the record cover template in mind. The first time he presented his full body of work in one space was in 2011 for the Revolutions Exhibition at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica, California. The second instalment was presented at Stolen Space Gallery in London, UK in 2012 as ‘Sound & Vision’. The 50 Shades of Black show is back on Shepard’s home turf of Los Angeles and the opening night event will include a performance by DJ Z-Trip who created the soundtrack to the ‘Sound & Vision’ show.
50 Shades of Black will feature 50 Hand Painted Multiples and a box set with screen print editions of each of the 50 new album cover designs; a record store installation with customised vintage turntables and a portion of Shepard’s own record collection will also be on view. Viewers can participate in the exhibition by selecting records from Shepard’s collection and playing them on the provided record players whilst visiting the gallery.

“The artwork in 50 Shades of Black is representative of how music has long since been an inspiration for Shepard as ‘a democratic medium that can bring joy whilst also delivering provocative and compelling social commentary.’ His album cover art seeks to convey the infectious accessibility that music has in a visually compelling way. His art also succeeds in striking certain social and political chords through his careful consideration of which music personalities and movements he chooses to echo within each unique design.
Music has taught me a great deal about connecting with a broad audience. Music is universal. I’ve had some very moving encounters with art in my life, especially in the street, but almost nothing can compare to the first time I heard the boots marching and first chord of the Sex Pistols’ ‘Holidays in the Sun’ or the air raid sirens leading and ‘too black, too strong’ on the intro to Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’ or the opening guitar scream of Black Flag’s ‘Rise Above.’
Music is visceral but also has the additional powerful layers of the lyrics with their content and politics; then there’s also the style and personalities of the musicians themselves. Compelling album covers have always been a great complement to great music; there’s something subversive about bundling seductive visuals with provocative ideas or provocative visuals with seductive ideas. An audience that’s looking for escape doesn’t expect a confrontation and a call-to-action but I believe the best music and the best art can deliver both. Call the approach ‘hi-brow/lo-fi’ or ‘lo-brow/hi-fi’ but I try to use it in my artwork to capture the same energy and spirit that makes music so powerful.” – Shepard Fairey

Shepard does visually what I do musically. We have many of the same influences; it made perfect sense for us to collaborate on 50 Shades of Black. I am honoured to be a part of it. – Z-Trip
The show will run from 16th April until the 17th May.




“The Clash are my all-time favourite band and their frontman, Joe Strummer, is a hero of mine for his music, lyrics, wit, compassion for the underdog, and stance against injustice. Joe’s widow, Lucinda, approached me about creating an image of Joe to help raise funds for Strummerville the charity set up to honour and fulfil Joe’s belief that music can inspire and empower. Strummerville provides opportunities for musicians around the globe. I was incredibly honoured that Lucinda asked me to be involved and I was moved when she shared her opinion that Joe and I have similar philosophies. The print is a collaboration with photographer Kate Simon who shot the first Clash cover. Please check out what Strummerville is about and show your support! Thanks for caring.” - Shepard Fairey
Set up by the friends and family of Joe Strummer in the year after his death the charity seek to reflect Joe’s unique contribution to the music world by giving opportunities to aspiring musicians and support to projects that create social mobility through music.
Stummerville reaches out to music projects around the globe such as WAYout Project in Sierra Leone. They also work with bands and musicians here in the UK to help get their music recorded and provide a platform for them to showcase their music.
Recent projects have been to install a recording studio and provide instruments and training to WAYout project in Sierra Leone, set up a music room in Tilinanu, Malawi as well as rehearsal rooms in Belfast and London with more planned.

Obey Title

Since 1989, the Obey street art campaign has become an important urban phenomenon, subconsciously touching those well aware of their environment. Through the vision of Shepard Fairey, Obey has evolved into one of the most controversial yet influential symbols of the 21st century. Derived from Andre the Giant, a pop-culture athlete in the eighties, the Obey icon has been bombed in developed and rural cities around the world. Its ambiguous idea immediately sparks philosophical discussion and ultimately motivates the inner-person through active participation.

Obey Clothing Title

With the help of Mike Ternosky and Erin Wignall, Obey Clothing continues to spread Shepard Fairey's message through Men's and Women's sportswear fashion and one-of-a-kind accessories. Every Obey Clothing designed piece is cleverly thought out, attracting people of all genres and ages, reminding them of the days when "style" was a one syllable word. Men's and Women's Obey T's, sweats, knits, Obey denim, belts, wallets and military inspired jackets and caps are all examples of what we are known for. Season after season, Obey Clothing has progressed into a brand that holds a huge amount of content and depth. To find a Men's or Women's store where you can buy Obey Clothing, click on the UK Stockists section on the menu bar.

Obey Manifesto Title

The Obey campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology.
The first aim of Phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one's environment.
The Obey campaign attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the campaign and their relationship with their surroundings.
Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with Obey propaganda provoke thought and possible frustration, never the less revitalizing the viewer's perception and attention to detail.