The son of a doctor and a real estate agent, Fairey grew up in South Carolina, studied art and graduated from the Academy of Art in 1988. In 1989 he conceived and created the “Andre the Giant Has a Posse” initiative; scatters the walls of the city with stickers that reproduce the face of the wrestler André the Giant; the same were then replicated by other artists in other cities.
Fairey himself then explained that there was no particular meaning in the choice of the subject, the meaning of the campaign was to produce a media phenomenon and to make citizens reflect on their relationship with the urban environment.
But the initiative that gave Fairey international visibility was the Hope poster which reproduces the stylized face of Barack Obama in four colors, which became the icon of the electoral campaign that then brought the Democratic representative to the White House. Art critic Peter Schjeldahl called the poster “the most effective American political illustration since Uncle Sam”. The poster appeared, again during the 2008 election campaign, with two other words: “Change” and “Vote”. Obama’s electoral committee never formalized the collaboration with Fairey, probably because the posters were posted illegally, as in the tradition of street-art, but the president, once elected, sent a letter to the artist, which was later made public, in which he thanked Fairey for the creative contribution to his campaign. The letter closes with these words: “I have the privilege of being part of your work of art and I am proud to have your support”.
Also author of the redesign of the Mozilla mascot of the homonymous web browser and the Mozilla Foundation, Fairey also appears in Banksy’s documentary on urban art Exit Through the Gift Shop.