[INTERVIEW]: Street Artist Shepard Fairey Designs for The 99% Spring

Photo: (Getty Images)

What’s a protest movement without a sweet poster?! That’s why last weekend’s All in for the 99% art, music and activism extravaganza in Los Angeles made sure that superstar street artist Shepard Fairey was on hand for some visual inspiration.

Remember the iconic Obama HOPE poster that took over your friends FB profile pics and was plastered all over the country back in 2008? Yeah, that was his. Oh, and the OBEY sticker on your laptop? Yup, you guessed it.

A picture is worth a thousand words, right? Well, in the case of politically inspired art like Shepard’s, the images are even more powerful because it’s not just about getting’ ya talkin’, but boostin’ your butt into DOING something. And if you’re not sure where to start, Moveon.org and Rebuild the Dream (founded by “lefty dreamboat” Van Jones) have launched The 99% Spring Action Training to hone 100,000 peaceful protesters. Time to start flexing those civic muscles, y’all!

We’ve already inspired you to work it out for change with some wise words from Moby – now let’s see what progressive poster phenom Shepard Fairey has to say about the prospects for youth voters in 2012 and why pop culture and the 99% should totes be BFFs.

MTV Act: What’s your advice to young people who are so disillusioned by politics that they don’t even want to be involved or vote this year?

Shepard Fairey: As flawed and as frustrating as the two party system may be, not voting leaves greater potential for the people you’d least want shaping policy to be elected. Voting is essential, but using any tools at your disposal to voice your point of view makes a difference. The media and politicians do take note of activism and popular opinion.

Do you think the “99%” will show up and vote in this Presidential election or will the protest movement avoid mainstream politics altogether? Is there a candidate that best represents the 99%?

I hope people will show up and vote. I don’t think addressing the realities of the present and the ideal goals for the future are mutually exclusive. Progress is a process that takes constant rigorous effort and evolution, not revolution, is usually the way. Obama has not turned out to be the transformative leader I’d hoped for, but I support Obama because I think that of the viable candidates he is best for the 99%. With campaign finance structured the way it is there is little chance of a candidate coming along who does not have to fundraise pandering to special interests. The system itself is flawed, but regardless I think Obama cares about average citizens more than the Republicans. Fixing the campaign finance system is the top priority.

How do you think pop culture and the 99% can work together?

A lot of people don’t consider issues until they are presented in a relatable way. Art, music, and entertainment are great pop culture vehicles to engage the public on the concerns of the 99% movement. People are barraged with so much information daily that a simple slogan, song, or image might be the only way to cut through the clutter. Musicians and artists have been using the pop culture platform effectively for decades and it is even easier to spread creative content now with the internet and social media.