For an artist with the notoriety of Shepard Fairey, his profound and meticulously crafted studio work often gets underappreciated. He is, at his core, a craftsmen, a master printmaker who collages and paints and creates imagery together that, on canvas or on paper, is layered and labored over that creates an aesthetic that feels historic or even unearthed from a previous century. It's all quite beautifully rendered, but with murals, prints, clothing and collaborations being his most famed output, his studio work with paper may be his most precise and the height of his creative powers. 

Printed Matters: Raise The Level is Shepard Fairey's solo exhibition at STRAAT Museum in Amsterdam, opening to the public on August 13th and on view through October 1st, is part of an ongoing series of exhibitions focusing on the importance of printed material in Fairey’s art. “I can’t imagine my art practice without the influence of, and the use of, printing," Fairey says. "Some of my biggest art influences were not paintings, but printed things like album covers, skateboard graphics, punk flyers, and T-shirt designs… Some people say print is on its way out, that it will be wiped out by digital media, but I say you can never replace the provocative, tactile experience of an art print on the street or in a gallery. Printing still matters.” As the museum notes of this exhibition, the phrase "Raise the Level" encompasses various essential topics, urging us to heighten awareness regarding the repercussions of fossil fuels and climate change. In addition to environmental concerns, "Raise the Level" also confronts pressing issues affecting humanity, including nationalism, xenophobia, war, disinformation, and the erosion of democracy.

"Printed Matters: Raise The Level, is an opportunity for us, as an institution and as a community, to acknowledge and appreciate the impact of a heroic artistic journey," says Hyland Mather, STRAAT Gallery Curator. "By sharing this show with Amsterdam and the world, we hope to inspire, uplift, and empower others to embrace their artistic passions and make their mark on the world."

What Printed Matters will also emphasize is just how much Fairey's work has grown, literally, beyond the street practice where he gained his fame. This is a reminder, a moment, where the art of paper and the process of working in traditional formats can be re-energized and re-imagined. Fairey is the perfect artist to start that movement. —Evan Pricco

There is a catalog available for the show that you can get at the STRAAT or in their shop.