LONDON – On the eve of the opening of Rock Style at Sotheby’s S|2 gallery in London, artist Shepard Fairey discussed his work and the pieces he has created for the show.



A PORTRAIT OF SHEPARD FAIREY BY JON FURLONG.

How important is music to your art? How does music move you in a way art might not?
Music is something that I’ve been passionate about since I was a kid, but when I discovered punk rock and realized that music could have an attitude in its style but a specific point of view in its lyrics, I became even more interested in how it works as a way of shaping attitudes and culture. I saw the creativity in the Do-It-Yourself culture around punk rock as a source of inspiration because many punk rock musicians and visual artists were not virtuosos but still managed to make things that were powerful and impactful. I love the accessibility of music; it is democratic in a way that most visual art is not. In fact, I emulate the music model in the ways that I disseminate my visual art.

How did your involvement in this Sotheby’s exhibition come about?
I’m friends with Jeffrey Deitch and acquaintances with Tommy Hilfiger, so I was excited when they asked me to participate because the roster of musicians and photographers is an impressive group of people I admire on both fronts.



DEBORAH HARRY ZEBRA, A NEW PORTRAIT BY SHEPARD FAIREY MADE EXCLUSIVELY FOR SOTHEBY'S
LONDON ROCK STYLE SELLING EXHIBITION.

Your work in the past has regularly featured a variety of musicians from Chuck D to Ozzy Osbourne - what prompted your choice for this exhibition?
I was given a list of some of the people the show included, and there were several who I either had or wanted to make portraits of. The concept of the show is musicians who have also impacted the world visually, which means that they’re almost all visually appealing, but what excited me as well is that they are all people who challenged convention in their presentation and content.

As you have such a reputation for street art, how does hanging your work in a gallery setting change how it is perceived?
Street art is one way to reach people, and I appreciate its accessibility and confrontational nature, but I also like to make paintings that have a more sophisticated and nuanced surface that can be appreciated as art objects and digested over time unlike street art that usually is viewed for a short amount of time and is almost always temporary.