Artist Shepard Fairey talks Hennessy bottle design in Wynwood

Photo: Anthony Cave

Shepard Fairey had a canvas to work with. It was the size of the front label on a bottle of cognac.

The street artist best known for his 2008 Barack Obama “Hope” poster and Obey Giant campaign talked about designing a Hennessy V.S. Limited Edition bottle during a press luncheon at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar Thursday afternoon.

Fairey, no stranger to the Miami arts scene with his Tony Goldman mural at Wynwood Walls, as well as his multiple murals inside Wynwood Kitchen, printed out each design to scale, about the size of a sticker, also taking into account Hennessy’s own lettering, during the drafting process.

After submitting a couple variations to the cognac brand, he was good to go.

“I think I have about as much detail in this as I can have without it becoming too fussy,” Fairey said during a roundtable interview. “It’s a real challenge to work at this scale.”

The bottle’s design, which Fairey described as “promoting beauty and peace,” has a quilt-like pattern, with a flower, featuring the Obey logo, radiating from the center.

The South Carolina native talked about the label as another way to reach people beyond murals, or even stickers. And, at one point, he defended his “populist” perspective, answering his own question.

“A bottle of Hennessy is incredibly affordable, it’s very populist compared to most fine art, I look at this as really accessible,” he said.

Accessible, but limited in quantity. Fairey’s design will only be on a U.S. batch of about 300,000 Hennessy bottles.

Fairey also took questions about Wynwood’s growth, reflecting on first putting up posters there a decade ago.

“To see how much art there is here and how inspiring it is to people, I hear about it anytime I’m in Philadelphia, Chicago, people go, ‘Oh, please, can you help us do something like Wynwood here?'” Fairey said. “I’m one artist.”

He even admitted to pasting stickers around South Beach the night before. The street artist joked that he was “creating jobs,” as most of his past stickers were removed.

“I have a rebellious streak,” Fairey said.