Obey Giant

Art History – Obey – An Appreciation For The Global Art Movement

The Obey stickers started popping up where I lived around the San Diego, CA area sometime in the mid 1990’s. They were usually placed on the backs of stop signs or in places where people could easily get out of their cars and place them quickly without being seen.

By the early 1990’s when I started painting, I was familiar with skateboarding and wrestling because both were things that I was passionate about as a teenager so it wasn’t hard for me to miss the stickers that started out in the skater community but eventually became a global art movement.


Image credit – TheGiant.Org

About The Obey Stickers

The Obey stickers were created by Shephard Fairey in 1989, but by the mid 1990’s he was being sued for the use of Andre the Giant’s image so he changed the sticker which said “Andre the Giant has a posse” to the iconic “Obey” stickers that we know today.

Once he created the iconic Obey sticker it became even more popular than the original stickers, and with the growth of the Internet, skaters and street artists were able to print stickers or the Obey stencils from home, or copy shops like Kinkos, and use the Obey image anywhere.

Image credit – HBO.com

Thanks to the Obey stickers, Andre the Giant’s memory lives on because, everyone who becomes a fan of the stickers will want to learn more about Andre and that will lead them to watching videos of his wrestling matches and of course the Princess Bride, the 1980’s movie that he starred in.

Andre the Giant’s legacy isn’t the real story when it comes to the Obey stickers though, what’s most interesting is how their use in popular culture gave people a image to stand behind that symbolized resistance and the coolness of the skater culture.

The Obey image is still in use today and can be seen on display by a wide variety of musicians, actors and athletes who wear the Obey hats and clothing because they think it’s cool.

Shephard Fairey

Shephard Fairey

By the early 2000’s, Shephard Fairey was already well-known for his Obey stickers and he turned that creative success into an even more successful art career that saw him sell his original street inspired artwork in galleries around the world.

In 2008 Fairey’s career reached new heights when he created another iconic image, the “Hope” campaign poster for Barack Obama, a young presidential candidate who would eventually become the 44th president of the United States.

The Hope poster quickly became controversial when Fairey was sued for the use of the image of Obama that was originally taken by a freelance photographer. He settled the lawsuit out of court but that lawsuit didn’t stop the success of his art career and as of 2019 his work is still in demand around the world.

As for the Obey image, it’s still being distributed globally. You can download the stencils and print them from home to create the image on a wall near you or you can buy stickers, tee shirts, hats, and lots of other Obey gear online or at your local skate store. 

What’s your thoughts on the Obey image? Feel free to leave me a comment below!

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