Shepard Fairey Paints the Town Red

Shepard Fairey, the urban artist who gained prominence with Obama’s 2008 Hope campaign poster, and a team of artists recently hit the streets of Dallas leaving his indelible mark – a series of murals. This Saturday, the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas (CADD) organized a tour to view five finished Fairey murals. It was another fun CADD trip with a busload of art lovers.

Shepard Fairey Mural | Oak Cliff | 331 Singleton Blvd., near McPherson (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

A question that frequently crosses my mind is “How is this done?” Luckily, Brian Gibb, owner of Deep Ellum gallery The Public Trust, is a long time friend of Shepard Fairey, his fellow street artist. Brian talked with me about the general process and tipped me off to the locations where the murals were happening. I photographed the steps Fairey and his team took over several days to make these urban paintings. The image below is the finished painting at the Dallas Contemporary, followed by the step-by-step activities to make it happen.

Shepard Fairey Mural | Dallas Contemporary | 161 Glass Street, off Riverfront Blvd. | ( photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Step 1: Large rolls of paper with preprinted Xeroxed images of the final design were taped, with regular blue painter’s tape, to the wall after a base coat – in this case, black – completely dried.

Step 2: In the photo below, two artists razor cut the outlines to create a stencil.

Step 3: The stencil was then spray-painted with color. Here, the design instructions called for yellow.

Step 4: After the letters were painted and the paper removed, an artist hand paints any edges where crispness is needed. I noticed the brush was small which means this was a methodical, intense step.

That’s a wrap the Dallas Contemporary site.

So, onto another…

The retaining wall below is located at the historic Belmont Hotel. Step 1: Fairey began with a red underpainting.

The Belmont Hotel | Architect: Charles Dilbeck | Intersection of Fort Worth Avenue and Sylvan (photo: Meg Fitzpatrick)

Step 2: The stencil pattern was a bold design requiring only two colors – black and white – to complete this modern concrete billboard.

Just up the hill, stop at the Belmont Bar terrace for a drink, bite and one of the best views of downtown Dallas.

Until next Sunday…