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Fairey, Karmaloop team on antigun design

Shepard Fairey

At first glance, the latest Shepard Fairey T-shirt design might be offensive to some, as it prominently features a handgun with a sign that reads, “2nd Amendment Solutions” with an arrow pointed at the trigger.

In fact, this shirt is meant to convey an anti-gun-violence message. Beneath the gun, a fine print says, “It is not the bullet with my name on it that worries me. It’s the one that says ‘To whom it may concern.’ ”

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Fairey, a famed graffiti artist who designed the iconic Obama “Hope” poster and is the owner of the Obey clothing brand, is joining Boston-based streetwear retailer Karmaloop.com to campaign against gun violence through sales of the limited-
edition T-shirt.

“He’s an artist who does things that are very much at the edge,” said Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe, a friend of the artist whose work was the subject of an exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art in 2009. “It’s a provocative image. Sometimes art has to be a little provocative and edgy to make people take notice.”

All proceeds from sales of
the shirt, available at Karmaloop.com, will be pledged to the nonprofit Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Karmaloop.com will match all donations up to $25,000, with a goal of raising a total of $50,000.

The fund-raiser came about after the Sandy Hook tragedy and other recent mass shootings as well as daily reports of gun violence. Selkoe said Fairey had initially planned to use the design as a part of a fund-raiser on his own but instead they teamed up.

“We are both politically involved and we try to do things that help steer the discourse toward issues we care about,” Selkoe said.

‘Sometimes art has to be a little provo-cative and edgy.’

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Selkoe said he feels that Karmaloop has credibility with young people and has an opportunity to start a conversation about the issue through the design.

“We’re part of a larger culture and there’s violence in the larger culture,” said Selkoe, who added that he believes the debate about guns in this country is too polarized. “Politicians and other people lecturing have no connection with younger culture, and they won’t be heard.”

Anna Marden can be reached at anna@annamarden.com.
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