Photo Essay: Underground Art in Charleston, SC

 Lady in Red [OBEY]
If you asked me to name one thing that I absolutely love about venturing to new places, I would say that it would simply be seeing the unexpected. To me, that's what is so great about being able to photograph the places and things that I happen upon when discovering a never-before-seen locale. The spontaneous things that I come across are the ones that, oftentimes, have the most impact, not the suggestions and must-dos I read about in guides beforehand. 

For instance, when Cody and I were in Charleston, SC a couple of weeks ago traversing the city, we stumbled upon some out-of-place embellishments that beckoned our immediate attention. Upon finding the first one, and inspecting it with a great deal of fascination, we snapped a few photos and continued on our merry way without burdening ourselves with trying to find an explanation as to why it exists.

It wasn't until we found a second sticker that they really began to stimulate our curiosity. After that, it was like a treasure hunt and the snippets of street art became a collection of booty that we couldn't resist documenting. Nearly each one of the OBEY stickers revealed were different designs. And I'm fairly certain that we only came across one design more than once.

[OBEY] Peace

I just loved that we found them in the most random places, on street signs and newspaper stands, sitting there secretly waiting to be observed, but offering absolutely no explanation as to why there are there to begin with. We knew, though, due to the familiarity with this particular designers' work, but I didn't know they were going to be tucked in peculiar places around the city for us to encounter and interact with. It was a really neat surprise to say the least.

Another surprise was finding out that the designer, Shepard Fairey, was actually born and raised in Charleston, SC. As I said before, I was familiar with his work, although I couldn't have told you his name much less where he was from. Even though he doesn't live there today, I was happy to see pieces of him lingering around the city rebelliously whispering “I'm still here!”.

Star [OBEY]

Shepard Fairey is the fellow who pioneered the Andre the Giant OBEY campaign, which began in the late 80's and grew in popularity from there. A skater kid that started out screen printing t-shirts moved on to create some of the most recognizable propaganda seen by people across the nation. You've definitely seen his work, although you might not realize it. He's the one who designed the famous Obama Hope presidential campaign poster along with other graphics that became icons during the election. Yeah, that guy.

Andre [OBEY]

So what's the big deal? Maybe it's because I think that the typical passerby won't notice such a seemingly small gesture, while others, like myself and Cody, will relish at the opportunity to discover something so menial. One time when we were hovered over the back of a street sign with our arms up in the air attempting to take another sticker picture, a couple walked by. The lady of the combo couldn't have cared less about what we were dawdling over while the dude craned his neck to catch a glimpse of what we were so captivated by. I shouted to him that we were taking pictures of a neat sticker (or something to that effect) and he quickly lost interest. It was kind of funny. 

[OBEY] Duo

The 'street art' isn't only for the people who do appreciate it, it's also for those who deem it meaningless or destructive, and I'll tell you why. Whatever response is elicited from any (and all) onlookers is exactly the emotion the creator was looking to capture. He doesn't care whether or not everyone likes it. He just wants people to be affected in some way, shape or form. The how or what matters not in this instance. The stickers themselves don't necessarily have a meaning because that's left for the viewer to decide.

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  1. interesting - i didn't know about him but i recognize of course the obama graphic.

    i do love the seemingly simple but quite intricut designs.

  2. (Well, except for the dead rat art we have downtown... but that's almost washed away. :D)

  3. Chaz is one of my most favorite cities, it's where I went to Uni. What awesome stickers!!!

  4. Nice works, stickers seem to be the new "tags". You are right about reactions for as Oscar Wilde once said, "the only thing worse that being talked about is not being talked about". For artists, indifference is deadly.