by Claudine Zap :Source Yahoo! Buzz

Obama's Artist
Fame is a funny thing.

For the street artist Shepard Fairey, it has meant praise, recognition, and now, charges of copyright infringement and a legal dispute.

The creator of the now-iconic Obama “Hope” image, Fairey began his career as a student at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD). His renegade stickers on lampposts and street signs that read “Andre the Giant has a posse” led to a larger project with international collaborators that plays on images of propaganda called “Obey Giant.” In addition, the artist’s work commands attention through screen-prints of political revolutionaries and rock stars, and ranges from fine, commercial, and political art. As an admiring design student writing for FastCompany.com put it, “His [Fairey’s] blending the role of an artist with that of a leader and of a humanitarian and an activist is incredibly exciting (and goes way beyond the success of the Obama poster).”

From the streets of Rhode Island, Fairey’s stenciled collage of Obama now hangs at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington. A retrospective of the artist’s work is opening at the ICA in Boston. Exhibition curator Pedro Alonzo says of the artist, “Fairey is committed to creating work that has meaning for his audience — by using familiar cultural iconography that people can relate to and by constantly bringing his work into the public sphere.”

Now that public may be biting back. The image of Obama that is the unofficial emblem of the campaign shows the president in red, white, and blue with the word “Hope,” and evokes an ironic Soviet-propaganda style. But the original image was taken from an AP photographer without permission. AP is calling foul. Fairey is calling fair use.

The admitted renegade who doesn’t always play by the rules never hid the source of his art. The plan all along was to go viral with the image. Fairey worked with the Obama campaign to find an image, which he selected, illustrated in one day, and put into production the next. As Fairey explained to The Huffington Post, “I think what then happened was that there were a lot of people who were digging Obama but they didn’t have any way to symbolically show their support…Once that exists it starts to perpetuate and it replicates itself.”

Even Fairey could appreciate the irony: The street artist, giving the president street cred, goes mainstream — and must face up to the consequences.