happy birthday assata shakur




the OBEY movement

o·bey /ōˈbā/
Comply with the command, direction, or request of (a person or a law); submit to the authority of
Carry out (a command or instruction)

OBEY Clothing was founded on the art, design and ideals of Shepard Fairey. What started for Fairey with an absurd sticker he created in 1989 while studying at the Rhode Island School of Design has since evolved into a worldwide street art campaign, as well as an acclaimed body of fine art.

Being a street artist, Shepard began “tagging” every object, building, stop sign, and every surface with the face of obey. His whole objective was and is to inspire curiousity of what is the importance of this figure. The more they see the face and sticker itself, the more they wonder what the big deal is. The truth is that there is no real meaning. It is just the fact that human beings can be brain washed in a way by repetition. The OBEY giant became almost like an OBEY campaign of sorts, a sociological experiment of the masses. Soon, the Andre the Giant face started popping up city to city and multiple countries, spreading like wildfire. More and more citizens became involved in the test without notice. Shepard took front seat to the phenomenon, focusing on the reactions of his students . He was the professor.

Spinning off from the OBEY campaign, people began to take notice of the man behind the plan. He started his OBEY clothing line, which became and still is one of the most popular brands around right now. The clothing in a way goes right along with his idea and mission.

 Street artists usually keep their identity under wraps due to trouble with the authorities. Fairey was underground for awhile, trying to be quiet and just work with his OBEY campaign. Everyone seemed to take notice, wanting to know who this mastermind was. He started putting out shows of his artwork as well as DJing the venues as well. He still was very quiet when going out to illegaly put up his work out on the town. If the authorities do not actually see with their eyes, then they cannot actually punish with cuffs or a fine, well that is how my mind takes it as. He has worked on album covers from the Black eyed peas to Led Zeppen and movie posters such as Walk the Line.

The OBEY campaign is rooted in the Do It Yourself counterculture of punk rock and skateboarding, but it has also taken cues from popular culture, commercial marketing and political messaging. Fairey steeps his ideology and iconography in self-empowerment. With biting sarcasm verging on reverse psychology, he goads viewers, using the imperative “obey,” to take heed of the propagandists out to bend the world to their agendas.

OBEY Clothing was formed in 2001 as an extension of Shepard’s range of work. Aligned with his populist views, clothing became another canvas to spread his art and message to the people. The clothing is heavily inspired by classic military design, work wear basics, as well as the elements and cultural movements Shepard has based his art career on. Through designers Mike Ternosky and Erin Wignall, Shepard works to create designs that represent his influences, ideals and philosophy.

OBEY is about variety and experience, thinking about your surroundings and questioning the purpose. Shepard Fairey has created many influential pieces, he is an activist, and genius at his craft. He was one of the youngest street artists ever to strike gold in the business. Today, at almost forty years of age, he has definately left his mark.
His beautiful and striking artwork brings social awareness as well as intriguing the mind on a walk through the streets. He has been caught up with the law, but the law has never won. He has created work that strikes up conversation and mystery.

“The message is in the medium”



US street culture fist bumps Cape Town with the OBEY label available exclusively at the Unknown Union store on Kloof Street.


(Mad respect and thanks to the guys in store for allowing me to shoot the goods.)

24 Kloof Street
Cape Town, South Africa
Phone: +27 (0) 21 422 2843
Email: hq@unknownunion.co.za