Nine years ago next week, back when Shepard Fairey was big enough to be the subject of a documentary, but well before he became a household name, he came to the Walker Art Center for a lecture series about "how big ideas get big without going bad." David Logan (now Kennedy-Logan) came up with the list of speakers -- Fairey, Burning Man founder Larry Harvey and HATE comics artist Peter Bagge -- and the Chomskyan series title, "Manufacturing (Dis)content." (Five years later, that would become the title of a book by Michael Perelman.) And he turned to me to help with the marketing concept.
From the start, we wanted to collaborate with Shepard on a poster, but it took some time for us to come up with a compelling concept. (I remember one headline favorite -- "Pissing in the mainstream" -- which we knew wouldn't fly with our institutional bosses.) Eventually, we agreed upon the lline "Revolutionary ideas don't end in ™." In retrospect, the trademark symbol perhaps didn't read clearly, but at the time we felt it conveyed the spirit of the series: how can good ideas take off without being co-opted, commodified or watered down.
Shepard created the imagery for the poster, appropriating an image of a beret-wearing African American man he's used on other pieces since. We also commissioned him to make a series of four buttons for the Walker's Target Free Thursday Nights. (I couldn't find a copy of the fourth one, but I remember it vividly, a fistful of dollars and the words "Free Enterprise.")
Here's the final poster:
at 5:06 PM