Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Andre Had a Posse

     Ever seen an Andre the Giant Has a Posse sticker? Or the whole “OBEY” line of clothing? The creator, Sheppard Fairy, also made the famous “HOPE” poster for Obama in 2008. Fairy is now a rock star. Back in the day, he was just a skateboarder who went to RISDY in RI. We skated together a few times at ZT Maximus, in Cambridge, MA. He made some funny Andre the Giant stickers. People liked them. Evolution and marketing did its thing. Anyway, below is a very, very old “explanation” Sheppard wrote about the whole Andre thing. I wonder what he would say about this in 2016. The “not for profit” thing clearly changed.

            A Social and Psychological Explanation of Andre the Giant Has a Posse

The Andre the Giant sticker campaign can be explained as an experiment in Phenomenology.  Heidegger describes Phenomenology as “the process of letting things manifest themselves.” Phenomenology attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before there eyes but obscured; things that are so taken for granted that they are muted by abstract observation. The first aim of Phenomenology is to reawaken a sense of wonder about one’s environment. The Andre the Giant sticker attempts to stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the sticker and their relationship with their surroundings. Because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the product or motive is not obvious, frequent and novel encounters with the sticker provoke thought and possible frustration, nevertheless revitalizing the viewer’s perception and attention to detail. The sticker has no meaning but exists only to cause people to react, to contemplate and search for meaning in the sticker. Because Andre the Giant has a Posse has no actual meaning, the various reactions and interpretations of those who view it reflect their personality and nature of their sensibilities. Many people who are familiar with the sticker find the image itself amusing, recognizing it as nonsensical, and are able to derive straightforward visual pleasure without burdening themselves with an explanation. The paranoid or conservative viewer however may be confused by the sticker’s persistent presence and condemn it as an underground cult with subversive intentions. Many stickers have been peeled down by people who were annoyed with the sticker which they consider an eye sore and an act of petty vandalism, which is ironic considering the number of commercial graphic images everyone in American society is assaulted with daily. Another phenomenon the sticker has brought to light is the trendy and conspicuously consumptive nature of many members of society. For those who have been surrounded by the sticker, its familiarity and cultural resonance is comforting and owning a sticker provides a souvenir of keepsake, a memento. People have often demanded the sticker merely because they have seen it everywhere and possessing a sticker provides a sense of belonging. The Andre sticker seems mostly to be embraced by those who are, or at least what to seem rebellious. Even though these people may not know the meaning of the sticker, they enjoy its slightly disruptive underground quality and wish to contribute to the furthering of its humorous and absurd presence which seems to somehow be anti-establishment / social convention.
    Andre the Giant stickers are both embraced and rejected, the reasoning behind which, upon examination reflects the psyche of the viewer. Whether the reaction be positive or negative, the sticker’s existence is worthy as long as it causes people to consider the details and meanings of their surroundings, In the name of fun and observation, the experiment continues…

Thank you for your interest,
(no matter what the reason.)
-Shepard Fairey

Over 350 thousand Andre stickers have been distributed over the last few years. Though the campaign is an experiment and not a profit seeking venture, I must cover my costs in order to maintain production….”

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