Special guest post by Douglas Caballero, TV journalist and producer.
I was shocked to read that renowned street artist and creator of the Obama "Hope" poster, Shepard Fairey, pled guilty to criminal contempt for destroying and falsifying documents and even convincing a witness to give false testimony in his civil suit with the Associated Press regarding the election poster. He could do jail time for this.
My shock wasn't because I'm a fan of his art (I am), and it wasn't because of the possible imprisonment and impending fine (the guy has a wife and a kid). Instead, it was because Fairey, in 2008, told me to my face and on camera that he worked with the Obama campaign so that there would be no "Illegal use" in the creation of the poster. Say what?
Back then, I hosted Presidential election coverage for Al Gore's cable network, Current TV, and I filmed a profile on Shepard Fairey. I interviewed the artist at his LA studio and I even went to the Denver Democratic National Convention and spoke with "Yes We Can" creator and Black Eyed Peas head honcho, Will.i.am, who raved about Fairey and his artwork. When my video aired, the "Hope" poster had made almost 1 million dollars for the Obama campaign and the original artwork is currently hanging in the Smithsonian museum.
I appreciated Fairey's outsider approach to art and his unwillingness to, up until then, take sides in mainstream politics. But then I thought: maybe this is a good thing - maybe his voice would inject some much needed honesty and authenticity into the election. Oh, how the irony is palpable. Am I still a fan of his art? Well, I haven't thrown out my "Obey" t-shirt just yet. So, yes I am. More irony for you.
Watch Shepard Fairey's remarks about "illegal use" and his collaboration with the Obama campaign, around 2:38 mark.