In honor of Shepard Fairey's forty-fourth birthday yesterday, Complex interviewed one of the artist’s biggest fans, Daniel Weintraub. To say that his collection is extensive is an understatement, though. Weintraub has amassed pages upon pages of stickers, some of which the artist himself no longer has copies. His Andre Heavy Metal print remains pristine, while Fairey’s copy is folded in thirds. Aside from his avid amassing of multiples, Weintraub also brings a keen business perspective to the game. Often, in order to finance a newly found gem, he will sell another work. His level of depth and deft attitude make Daniel Weintraub a fascinating character.
Rhiannon Platt: Were you always a collector?
Daniel Weintraub: No, I’ve only been collecting things since I was 6 years old. First it was stamps, then sports cards, then pogs, then rocks and crystals, then Magic the Gathering cards, then glass marble, and then vinyl figurines. That eventually led me to start collecting “street art” in 2007.
Rhiannon Platt: Why Shepard Fairey?
I sold one for four times the cost to pay for the framing of the other two.
Daniel Weintraub: The simple answer is because I can’t afford Banksy, but in reality it’s because in April 2007, I had the pleasure of going to Japan as a post-college graduation broke rockstar trip. Before I left, my friend told me that the artist behind the “OBEY shirts” I liked was having a show in Tokyo. Turns out it was a collaborative show between Shepard Fairey and WK Interact. I ended up buying all the prints available at the show, and I came home with no money.
I sold one for four times the cost to pay for the framing of the other two. Within a year or so I was selling off all of my glass marbles and most of my vinyl figures to pay for prints, stickers, and shirts. To this day I collect Shepard for a few reasons: I genuinely like 90% of the art he puts out (and he puts out a shit load of art), he is very affordable to collect, the community that collects him is super tight-knit and supportive of each other’s art addictions, and since I have yet to get out of this non-rich lifestyle, I have to think about the future and collecting Shepard’s art seems to be a great and safe investment.
Rhiannon Platt: How did you eventually meet him?
In the middle of a super busy opening, Shepard went over every sticker with me, telling me if it was made in Providence, San Diego, or Los Angeles.
Daniel Weintraub: I’ve met Shepard at a few openings, but the first time we really got to talk was at Jonathan LeVine’s pop-up gallery in Asbury Park, New Jersey. At the time I had collected around 450 different OBEY stickers, and my collector friends finally convinced me to show it to Shepard. I was walking around with my nerdy binder when Shepard’s longtime buddy Adam Wallacavage saw it and asked if I had ever shown it to Shep. I said not yet, and he immediately grabbed the book from my hands and walked it over to Shepard.
For the next half hour, in the middle of a super busy opening, Shepard went over every sticker with me, telling me if it was made in Providence, San Diego, or Los Angeles, along with some cool stories behind some of them. Since then, I have collected over 200 more stickers and actually have sent my collection to Studio Number One to have Shep’s interns scan and document it. Shepard stuck up or gave away almost all of the early stickers, so he believes my collection to actually be more thorough then his.
Featuring the mentioned Andre Heavy Metal on the bottom right
Rhiannon Platt: What started the obsession for you?
Stickers I once paid $20-$30 on Ebay are now going for $300 and higher.
Daniel Weintraub: Have you ever smelled a fresh screen print? That’s what did it; well, either that or when I bought my first super rare, super old screen print from 1994, Andre Heavy Metal. The seller included a handful of super early hand screened stickers. It was at this point that I realized if I ever wanted to own Shepard’s older work there was no way I could afford the screen prints. However, at the time, I could buy really old stickers for pennies on the dollar compared to their screen print counter parts. I would buy everything I could find on Ebay. I would contact sellers of older prints and ask if they had any old stickers. I was really good at sourcing stickers but then the market sort of blew up and now I can’t afford to collect my own collection. Stickers I once paid $20-$30 on Ebay are now going for $300 and higher. Luckily for me, people are starting to recognize my collection as something special and often I find myself getting stickers offered at a discount and sometimes even for free.
Rhiannon Platt: What is the most extreme thing you have done to get a piece?
So, yes, the most extreme thing I have ever done for a print is run.
Daniel Weintraub: One time I was in line at Deitch Projects for Shepard’s May Day show with my buddy Neil, and we read on the message board (thegiant.org) that there were sold out prints available at the pop-up shop about ten blocks away. We sprinted there. So, yes, the most extreme thing I have ever done for a print is run.
Rhiannon Platt: What is your favorite story behind a piece?
Daniel Weintraub: A few years ago I purchased a really old print from Jonathan LeVine’s personal collection called Giant Subliminal circa 1995. It turns out that the piece was originally given to Adam Wallacavage as a gift from Shepard, who would stay with him when he would go bombing in Philadelphia in the mid/late 1990s. When Adam needed to buy a new camera a few years later he sold it to LeVine. It sat in his collection for about 10 years when I was lucky enough to purchase it. Today, it sits in an amazing Dan Tag original frame who, as it turns out, is also Adam’s framer. It's a small world.
Artists: Shepard Fairey and BNE
Rhiannon Platt: Why did you specifically choose to focus on multiples like prints and stickers?
To this day if you are lucky, and quick on the draw, you can get Shepard’s prints directly from his studio for $45 plus shipping.
Daniel Weintraub: If you want to collect old Shepard Fairey work, you have no choice but to collect his multiples. When Shep began, the final medium of his art was the screen print or sticker. Today these forms act as a way for him to get his art to the masses while still selling original fine artworks for significantly more money. To this day if you are lucky, and quick on the draw, you can get Shepard’s prints directly from his studio for $45 plus shipping. There are not too many artists out there who knowingly sell their work for under market value just so the work gets into the hands of the masses. Stickers also allowed me to collect the images I wanted at a fraction of the cost. It would be great if I hit the lottery and could buy canvases and stencil collages, but until then I will keep filling my portfolios with inexpensive prints and anything cool I can touch on the cheap.
An original Alternate Graphics order sheet
Rhiannon Platt: If your apartment was on fire which piece would you save?
Daniel Weintraub: Ha. I think I’d have to go down with the ship.